Unclassics 1/Stray Notes
PBW now with more dogs dope and ghosts than ever. But really. "Have you heard about this house? How we idolize, theorize, syllogize, in the dark, in the heart," etc. Well, that's where the hauntology riffage will happen from now on, as the dorks begin to crawl on ceilings and frighten others.
This might be a tired idea - and one that could last for only a handful of posts - but I figured I would make an attempt at sharing albums that have either 1. not gotten a fair shake or 2. I love and nobody else does but I love them so deal with it, okay? The name is pinched from a Morgan Geist compilation of rare disco, but it sounds a lot better than PBW's Unsung Heroes or PBW In Tha Vault or some other allstar trash. On with.
UNCLASSICS 1: Julee Cruise, Floating into the Night
"When you told your secret name, I burst in flame and burned, I'm floating."
David Lynch's movies have never been puzzles to me as much as they've been about a kind of nonsense; the performances he's wrung from actors always attain a kind of forced affect that often exposes the arbitrariness of our own feelings and reactions to the world (just think of the disjointed hypermasculinity of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet; his "daddy wants to fuck" rhetoric, silly "well-dressed man" disguise, and the erratic way he heads his gang of equally archetypal creeps). Hearing Julee Cruise's "The Mysteries of Love" in that movie provided something of a revelation to me: a love song that was earnest to the point of sounding alien, like someone writing what they think a love lyric should sound like, but instead coming out with a series of unsympathetic non-sequiturs. In full: "Sometimes a wind blows and you and I float in love, and kiss forever in a darkness/And the mysteries of love come clear and dance in light, in you, in me, and show that we are Love;" a slight breath over supple analog synths and all flags flying for heaven, buff on the pillow of a cloud, etc. All that and a wave of angels in soft focus. Desire in italics. So forth.
Anyway, Cruise wasn't even supposed to sing; at the time, she was a talent scout for Lynch's composer Angelo Badalamenti. When Badalamenti heard her voice - a wispy, bloodless sigh, sexy and seemingly without emotion - she was drafted to perform "Mysteries of Love." Eventually, the collaboration between the two (and Lynch, who wrote the lyrics) produced Floating into the Night, a full album of surreal pre-rock slink, doo-wop balladry, shifty golden age nocturnes like "Sleepwalking," and even cool jazz, all heard through the fog of a faux-new-age unconscious. Cue Sherilyn Fenn as absent Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks putting on the jukebox, swaying like a hung body, moaning: "God, I love this music; isn't it too dreamy?" That messed me up some, yeh.
It's impossible to ignore what makes this album creepy, but it's also an evasive element of certain music that I adore but have a difficult time putting my finger on. In Floating, the extended ache of a thousand slowdances thwarted by the ruler-distance etiquette of the 50s finally capitulates like wild in a muted underground; the kids didn't want to just kiss, they wanted to claw at each other in shadows totally beyond reason; they don't want to have fun when they fuck so much as feel like they transcend the murk of the idiot lovesickness that they don't know what to do with. Cruise wraps the girl-next-door fantasy in impenetrable mystery and weirdness, conjuring a teenage affect that at times seems incredibly real, but just as often completely contrived in its extremes. It's a dangerous balance, one that almost insults the depth of our emotions by clumsily playacting them, but in the process, Floating opens up a new, absent kind of romanticism where we're rubbed anonymous, blank, and in turn, more poised for passion than before.