There are few fi lm directors whose sonic style seems easier to characterize than David Lynch. Sound and music are as prominent a part of his movies as color, light, and camerawork. Audio and visual media cooperate to build the surreal universes of nonlinear narratives and overlapping realities of his dreamscapes, and the combination is typically evaluated as extremely disconcerting. Even though the validity of a cinematographic, let alone audiovisual-cinematographic, auteur as an analytic concept remains highly debatable, in the case of David Lynch a consistent personal sonic style is overwhelmingly evident. This style, moreover, is deemed so innovative that it has been said to “renew the cinema by way of sound.” 2
The name David Lynch has come to connote a dreamy but uncanny audiovisuality. An online review of Lynch’s 2006 fi lm Inland Empire emphasizes the role that the director’s “signature ominous sound design” plays in the spatio-temporal and psychological destabilizations of the movie, but it does not proceed to describe further characteristics of this signature sound. 3 In a similarly inexact way Former Ghosts front man Freddy Rupert mentions Lynch’s disquieting soundtracks as a major infl uence for the band’s 2011 album New Love : “That you can use something so sweet and nostalgic-sounding to illustrate something that is utterly disturbing.” 4 A fi nal example comes from personal experience. When I told a colleague early in 2011 in which London hotel I was going to be staying, he commented that that particular hotel was “such a David Lynch place,” a qualifi cation upon which he elaborated with a description of endless linoleum corridors in which the only sign of life appears to be the intermittent buzz of a broken lamp.