Metavari ~ ABSURDA: Music Reimagined in the Short Films of David Lynch

Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 13!  One of the best things about Record Store Day is the exclusives ~ and this year we’ve got an amazing one to review.  The concept is apparent from the title.  Metavari has gone the extra mile, meticulously re-scoring the short films of David Lynch.  The pleasant surprise is that the album is thoroughly modern, and stands on its own without the visuals.  These will also be made public on release day, while synching lessons are included in the purchase. The album will appear in the UK/EU this weekend, and any leftover copies will be made available to the global audience soon after.

The overall genre is electronic, but there’s a pound of industrial to be found here, along with hints of drone and some fitting audio experimentalism.  Metavari has captured the absurd tone of Lynch, along with the excitement of something new.  “Six Figures Getting Sick (Six Times)” includes sounds reminiscent of airplanes, coins, and (of course) a film reel, along with deep bass and dangling synths.  The mastering is superb; THX would be proud.  The big closing chords are intensely and intentionally cinematic.  Vox and drone haunt “Absurd Encounter With Fear,” while mallet instruments set the stage for a thrilling ride on “The Alphabet.”  The track surges and retreats, using synthesized brass, dissonant harp and huge industrial drums to burst through the speakers and set the heart ablaze.

Lynch’s work is simultaneously subtle and overt, a curious nuance that Metavari has managed to emulate.  While a track such as “Industrial Landscape” may seem to have a straight trajectory, it still manages to take diverging paths, underlining its dual nature with wandering stereo effects.  The artist humbly states that he is “scribbling on top” of Lynch’s films, but it may be more proper to call these tracks an homage.  It’s more common to hear a musician echo another musician than to encounter a cross-genre leap.  But like his influencer, Metavari has a talent for miniatures; the track heard in the clip below is actually the complete version of “Premonitions Following an Evil Deed.”  Elapsed time: one minute.  The sparse nature of this piece amplifies the explosion of “Dream #7 (Extended),” the opening minutes utilizing every available sonic space.

If some listeners experience 80s flashbacks while listening to the music, the association is intentional.  Some of Lynch’s short films go back decades.  But just as Disasterpeace’s It Follows pays tribute to John Carpenter without copying John Carpenter, so does Metavari’s ABSURDA tip its hat to 80s synth without xeroxing it.  One eye looks back while the other looks forward.  Any other associations are positive ~ for example, Tangerine Dream’s “Love On a Real Train” and Giorgio Moroder’s “The Chase.”

So now to the films.  The attention to detail is immediately apparent in “Six Figures Getting Sick (Six Times),” as the animation splices are perfectly synched to percussion.  While watching this student work, one is reminded of how genius ~ and how bonkers ~ Lynch was even while young.  “Industrial Soundscape (Excerpt)” contains the same matching of beat to movement, although the video itself is less busy than the music.  “Dream #7 (Extended)” is another highlight, the film only 48 seconds long but the score triple the length, an honest elongation of the theme.  The same holds true for “The 3 Rs/Epilogue for the 3 Rs,” the highlight being the synching of hammer and beat at the film’s end.

Because synching requires great attention to detail, it’s easy to call this Metavari’s biggest challenge. But the opposite may be true.  Some of Lynch’s films involve minimal movement (the creepy “Absurd Encounter With Fear,” which somehow becomes more creepy with the reveal) or constant movement (“Ballerina”).  In such cases, the musician must capture the mood.  In every instance, the composer succeeds.  Should Lynch ever release another short film, we recommend Metavari to write the score. These are more than just scribbles; ABSURDA is the reciprocation of a great gift.  (Richard Allen)

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