Various Artists Sounds from the Black Lodge: A Tribute to Twin Peaks

[No Problema; 2019]

Styles: this is the water and this is the well, drink full and descend, the horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within
Others: Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, Fire Walk with Me

David Lynch saved me from myself.

You think maybe I’m being melodramatic, but you’d be wrong. David Lynch saved me from a life of demanding answers, a life where I could only be satisfied if the line stretching from point A made it successfully to point B with very little ambiguity. That’s right, there would have been a me that was eternally annoyed at Fire Walk with Me, or Lost Highway, or even Mulholland Drive. That’s not really a reality any of us wants right now, is it? One where I pound my fists on my desk like an ape anytime somebody brings up the whereabouts of Agent Chester Desmond, the identity of the Tremonds, or what the heck was going on in that David Bowie scene.

And, maybe above all, when someone asks the most horribly pertinent question: What year is this?

It was Inland Empire, surprisingly, that loosened me up. I say “surprisingly,” because of all of Lynch’s feature films to that point, Inland Empire was the most bafflingly weird. It’s three hours of unfettered dream logic, a surreal head trip where one personality melds with another, all without the benefit of much exposition. Now, I’m not a film critic, and as such I’m not going to dive into Inland Empire — like, at all — but the point is, I tapped into the feeling of that film like I’ve never done before, and I was able to ride it out on the crest of a hallucinatory wave that simply made sense in spite of — or directly because of, or within — itself. It became one of my favorite Lynch films, and also a Rosetta Stone of sorts — not allowing me to directly decipher meaning, per se, but to align me, orient me in such a way that I could see the intention behind the cinematic or narrative decisions.

It helped me come to terms with the lack of a satisfying ending to the original run of Twin Peaks. It also helped me prepare for Twin Peaks: The Return, come what may.1

Dream logic — “the nonsensical logic one possess while dreaming that makes perfect sense until he or she wakes up.” It’s hard to pin down. It often seems to comprise a set of rules that makes sense only within itself. It incorporates a collection of things on the periphery, things that point to other things and incorporate elements of the familiar, but in odd, skewed, haunting, or even disturbing ways. Lynch’s work is filled with dream logic, and as a viewer, the best thing to do is just “go with it.” You don’t have to look at it straight on to feel like you’re a part of it, to feel like you’re fully invested in it.

Songs from the Black Lodge: A Tribute to Twin Peaks is the musical equivalent of dream logic, especially when placed in conjunction with Angelo Badalamenti’s score, Julee Cruise’s contributions, Dean Hurley’s and David Lynch’s sound design, and the performers at the Roadhouse in The Return. Curated by ░▒▓█₳§ᗐM̶R̳█▓▒░, the compilation gathers 252 like-minded artists and producers, each tasked with somehow connecting their electrical equipment to the proper electrical conduits that allow them to traverse that electricity all the way to Lodgespace itself, and then somehow come back through to this side, in various degrees of “scathed,” with enough inspiration to add tangential audio references to the Twin Peaks canon. Some of these artists and producers have glyphs and shit in their names, probably lifted from the walls of Owl Cave itself.

Experiencing Twin Peaks through this, erm, lens is like listening to its (or a) soundtrack through fractured glass — or, perhaps more appropriately, like catching snippets of it as you traverse Phillip Jeffries’s infinite steam loop through time and its unlimited possibility. Familiarity beckons, as it has to within a project like this (or else you’re liable to alienate the very audience you’re trying to reach, the rabid one that convulses into fits of euphoria at the teeniest reference or clue): “Between Good and Evil” by MEZ recalls both “Audrey’s Dance” and “Dance of the Dream Man” with its fingersnaps and jazzy tempo (as does iConsortium’s “The Way the Cookie Crumbles”). Soul▲Craft’s “Forest Trance” hints at “Laura Palmer’s Theme” in its deeply melancholy atmosphere. Unknown Caller’s “She’s Stuck (Between Worlds)” suggests what, I dunno, Laserdisc Visions would have sounded like performing in reverse over the end credits of The Return episode 16.

But while it’s obvious to simply conjure the past, these examples are sidelong glances, cockeyed renditions that only suggest Twin Peaks and pay tribute to it, according to the subtitle. But if these are truly Songs from the Black Lodge, then you’re already prepared for “anything goes.” First Kings’s “And Dark Within” initiates the entire thing with scrabbling noises and sawmill sounds and static, culminating in the Woodsman’s nefarious chant over the airwaves. Inappropriate King Live crafts a 10-minute sound collage called “I Am the Arm,” a fascinating study of Michael Anderson’s “Arm” noises and speech, punctuated at times by FBI agent Sam Stanley’s interjections. Bary Center drops an industrially distorted nightmare rave bomb titled “Everything Is Known to Me.” And in a case of the art imitating art imitating art (I think that’s right; maybe it’s more of a snake eating its own tale), there’s even a track by b l u e s c r e e n called “Spade Burns Better.”

Twenty-five distinct electrical charges, twenty-five missives from the field, twenty-five points of view approaching the action surrounding Twin Peaks in ways both wonderful and strange. If David Lynch saved me from a life of demanding answers via the most direct path possible, then surely I’m not the only one. The artists on Songs from the Black Lodge represent multiple entry points to and exit points from Lodgespace, located all over the world. Point A zig-zags precariously, not to Point B, but maybe to Point X Prime, somewhere along a timeline you haven’t even imagined yet. That’s the beauty of what Twin Peaks inspires, a personalized approach to mythology that’s neither right nor wrong, but certainly compatible with all the other weirdos out there who are of a similar disposition. Now: let’s figure out where/when the hell Coop and Carrie Page are, or at least spitball some theories.

1. I guess mild spoiler alert here, but I won’t really tackle too much.

2. The number 25 was intentional, signifying the number of years between seasons 2 and 3, which also happened to be how long Good Cooper was in the Black Lodge.

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