In music, hiding in there, is so much, and you just sit and listen to the tracks and these images come.David Lynch
"Listen to the tracks and see what comes."
That's the request the music producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) made of David Lynch upon presenting the filmmaker with a new project — an album called Dark Night of the Soul.
"He said, 'David, I know you don't have time to do videos, but maybe still photographs for each song?'" Lynch recalls.
Lynch went on to produce 50 striking photos inspired by the uniquely collaborative album. They're on view in a show at Los Angeles' Michael Kohn Gallery, where tracks from the album play constantly as viewers examine the photographs.
The songs on Dark Night of the Soul were created by Danger Mouse and musician Mark Linkous, better known by his stage name, Sparklehorse. The compositions were then farmed out to performers including Iggy Pop, the Flaming Lips and The Shins' James Mercer, who supplied the vocals and made their own contributions to the music. Lynch himself even sang on two of the tracks.
A legal dispute with the EMI record label has prevented the release of Dark Night (though you can hear the entire album as part of NPR Music's Exclusive First Listen series). Lynch's photographs, meanwhile, have been compiled into a book that is sold with a blank, recordable CD-ROM that buyers are encouraged to use as they please.
"In music, hiding in there, is so much," says Lynch, explaining his creative process to NPR's Scott Simon on a tour of the Michael Kohn Gallery show. "You just sit and listen to the tracks, and these images come."
Many of Lynch's photographs feature dramatic visual distortions that recall the sometimes impenetrable mysteries of Lynch's films.
"Life holds many, many mysteries — abstract things that we all think about," Lynch says. "In a film, when things get abstract, some people don't appreciate that, and they want to leave the theater. Others love to dream, get lost, try to figure things out. I'm one of those people."