The City of Absurdity Jocelyn Montgomery with
David Lynch
Lux Vivens: The Music of Hildegard von Bingen

About the Project

David Lynch | Jocelyn Montgomery | John Neff | Mark Seagraves | Heidrun Reshoeft


David Lynch

"It's not dark. Dark could imply evil. It's low, number one. There are a lot of low things. But it's beautiful to me. It's a mood. It's a deep mood."

"I hear the word 'elements' and hear 'nature' and I hear 'animals' or 'birds' and Jocelyn's interpretation and it sort of flows together. Then I hear the word "12th century" and it conjures up certain things and then to feel the spiritual thing of it, that roars in and pretty soon you have a feeling coming through. And that's the thing we all tried to tune in to."

"In my mind it pretty much transcends religion."

"Well, I am not a musician. Even though I did play some on the album, I'm playing a mood or sound."

"I come to music from sound effects and I love when sound effects get close to music. I think about sound effects in terms of lines like in music - one line going with another line going with another line. I love musicians and I love music, but I'm not a musician's musician. Angelo Badalamenti brought me into the world of music and now I'm starting to play the guitar. But I don't even play the guitar in a normal way. I don't hold the guitar in a normal way and I see it more as sound - although we are making music."

"Her name is Jocelyn West [now Montgomery], she’s from England, plays the fiddle and sings ... She came in for a five minute meeting, it lasted seven hours, and we ended up with this [And Still]. I wrote the lyrics with Artie Polemisis’ wife, Artie runs the studio in New York, his wife Estelle and I wrote the lyrics."

This first session eventually led to the recording of "Lux Vivens (Living Light): The Music of Hildegard von Bingen" (Press Release) in David Lynch's own new recording studio which is located in the building where he shot the Madison House sequences for Lost Highway. "And Still" is not on the album. Footage of the recording of this song can be seen in Toby Keeler's wonderful Lynch documentary "Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch".

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Jocelyn Montgomery (formerly West)

"The experiences I've had singing Hildegard and performing it, is that it's always been a very natural and instinctive thing. I've always deeply identified with it. It's the most beautiful music I've ever come across ... ever sung."

"I think it would be silly not to share the music [of von Bingen] with as many people as I can. It's what I'm meant to do; it's what I know."

"To sing it, it's physically incredible because it's so free form," she says. "I do feel in awe of the work. I just don't know anything that compares to it."

"When you are actually singing it, it's really physical. It is vibrant, and sometimes it is like a prayer to sing."

"It's hill-walking music, bath music, it's sort of instinctual."

"We are very fortunate that he [Lynch] was interested to do it. It's amazing that he hears things that other people don't hear. I haven't met anybody else like him. I've met many musicians, but none with an ear like him."

"There's this great thing they do in Hebrdian churches, and basically all the people in the congregation start the psalm at whatever point they want to after each other. You just get this amazing kind of coffly of wailing voices. And I had that idea in mind when I did Hodie. David took the sound of a singing bowl that we played in the studio and de-tuned it. And then he put three more de-tuned singing bull notes in the back to create a kind of drone triad. And then I sang over that. And resang and resang. And everything was moving around and creating this amazing sort of spherical atmosphere. And the voices were panning from the different speakers, and it was like being in the sky."

Artist info
Jocelyn Montgomery's music picks

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John Neff (Engineer)

"Working with David is a very unique experience. He has musical training. He used to play the trumpet for many years, and he can still read music. He has from all the years in film, and as a visual artist, he presents all the ideas, the suggestions for the sonic path, as visual or emotional imagery. The challenge was to come up with a way to make it sound that way. The only thing missing on the record is the movie. When you hear it, it's like you're looking at a great big movie screen. The only thing missing is the picture. Your mind has to fill that in."

"He has got an awfully good musical sense for a non-musician. I know that he has played instruments in the past and he can read music. The big dive-bomb guitar in the opening number, 'Sapiente,' is David."

"Usually in a session a singer has to psych themself up. They have to listen to it. They want to rehearse. They don't want a microphone on for a little bit. And she (Montgomery) just walked down into the room and bang, out it came. David would say, "Well, would you like to sing?" And she'd go, "Okay!," traipse down into the room, put on her headphones. She'd be singing before I had the signal up. You didn't have things plugged in and she's going for it. And then what came out was just astounding."

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Mark Seagraves (D.A.W. Engineer)

"When we started doing this record, we investigated a lot of the images that Hildegard created from her visions. And that really struck me after being able to step away from the technical process, that we really realized that we achieved this message that is really coming from the heart and soul of a human being and reaching out before it's gone."

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Heidrun Reshoeft (Co-producer)

"Jocelyn's interpretation required a composer who could take you to different levels of consciousness. So in David I saw the most ideal artist to create this musical soundscape with a great sense of spirituality guided by Hildegard's timeless, meaningful visions."

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© Mike Hartmann