About three decades ago, filmmaker David Lynch fashioned a small head out of raw chicken and cheese, wrapped it in mortician’s wax, and stuck it on a wire in his kitchen. He had an ant problem at the time and filmed the head as the six-legged creatures “emptied the head out, working day and night,” as he recently told Rolling Stone. He used the finished head for the album cover of singer Julee Cruise’s 1993 record, The Voice of Love. And he liked the experiment so much he recently replicated it for his own LP.
The short film Ant Head features the insects devouring his latest experiment in avoiding salmonella set to a soundtrack of music by Thought Gang, his experimental collaboration with composer Angelo Badalamenti. The 13-minute clip features about half of a piece called “Frank 2000” and all of the Badalamenti-narrated “Woodcutters From Fiery Ships,” two tracks that appeared on the duo’s recently released, self-titled record. When the tracks change, the picture transitions to a negative image. “These ants just go wild,” he told Rolling Stone. “They went up the wire and cleaned this thing out again for four or five days.”
For the LP, which was recorded mostly in the early Nineties but shelved until now, Lynch and Badalamenti recruited jazz ensembles to approximate vignettes the director would describe as music; Badalamenti joined in on the recording, too.
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“The sounds that came out of Thought Gang were a cacophony,” Badalamenti said. “It was an incredible, organized cacophony. The players all were one, feeding off each other.”
“I call it ‘modern music,'” Lynch said, “but modern music could mean almost anything.”