Tuxedomoon / Cult With No Name: Blue Velvet Revisited
This forty-second volume in Crammed Discs' Made To Measure series allows cinephiles to re-live David Lynch's Blue Velvet in a new and different way. No, Blue Velvet Revisited is not a misguided attempt to supplant the powerful orchestral material Angelo Badalamenti created for Lynch's film; instead, it's an original soundtrack created by Tuxedomoon and Cult With No Name in 2015 for Blue Velvet Revisited, a documentary based on footage shot in 1985 by German filmmaker Peter Braatz on the film's Wilmington, North Carolina set at Lynch's own invitation. The documentary is an invaluable document, given that it includes exclusive, never-before-seen material Braatz culled from three months of unrestricted film set access, specifically footage as well as interviews and over a thousand photographs (some of them shown in a striking twelve-page booklet included in the CD release). For the record, an earlier version titled No Frank In Lumberton was released in 1988 to limited distribution, but Braatz's updated treatment is the definitive one of the two, especially considering that over seventy percent of the original on-set footage was never used.
The hour-long suite created by collaborators Tuxedomoon, the long-standing experimental outfit formed in San Francisco by multi-instrumentalists Blaine L. Reininger and Steven Brown, and Cult With No Name, the London, UK group featuring ‘post-punk electronic balladeers' Erik Stein and Jon Boux, is satisfying, too, even if it doesn't hit with as much force as Lynch's film. Of course, anyone familiar with it will respond immediately to track titles such as “Lumberton” and “A Candy Colored Clown,” while “Now It's Dark” and “Do It For Van Gogh” can't help but call to mind images of Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachlan) locked in their intense psychological and physical battles. An additional selling-point is the participation of John Foxx, who's credited with one of the soundtrack's thirteen tracks, and the cover image of Beaumont inspecting the severed ear is worth the purchase price alone.
It's hard not to think of the music Badalamenti composed for Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me when weeping strings, flugelhorn, and tenor sax woozily murmur throughout the opening “The Slow Club,” and the album's noir-ish side also comes to the fore during the slow jazz swing of “So Fucking Suave.” In “Lumberton,” the musicians pay homage to the film's small-town setting in an elegant classical treatment replete with a dramatic violin solo and sympathetic piano support. In contrast to the generally low-key character and slow tempo of the album, the muscular “A Candy Colored Clown” kicks things up a notch with an uptempo jazz romp, while Foxx's “Lincoln Street” parts company with the other tracks in drenching reverb-tinted piano with ambient-electronic atmospheres. Among the standout tracks are “Do It For Van Gogh,” a dreamy ambient-electronica setting that receives a strong boost from a haunting harmonica motif; “Until the Robins Come,” a haunting, strings-heavy setting boosted by memorable soprano sax playing; and “Don,” for its expressive, gypsy-toned violin soloing.Tuxedomoon and Cult With No Name cast a suitably haunting spell on the recording, even if its impact is amplified by associations between the film and their soundtrack. Stripped of the Blue Velvet connection and the film-related track titles, the music would still hold up perfectly well though it naturally would lack the resonance the associations bring to it. That said, there's no denying the allure of the music, especially when its creators have fashioned it into such a strikingly evocative blend of woodwinds, strings, harmonica, piano, and electronics.