Happy accidents shaped the sound of Body Parts
Completely unprompted, Ryder Bach brings up the fact that he’s a huge fan of moviemaking iconoclast David Lynch. And what the Body Parts founder loves about the man who’s been called Jimmy Stewart from Mars is the way that he’s entirely open to incorporating mistakes into his art.
“I’ve heard that a lot of the things that end up in his movies were just random, spontaneous acts that just happened to happen on set,” Bach says, speaking on his cellphone from his hometown of Los Angeles. “Like apparently in Twin Peaks they were doing a take and a llama happened to walk by. So they ended up using that take, which I thought was so incredible. I try and do that as well, to be mindful of those kinds of accidents. When they happen, I want to take advantage of them.”
While no llamas wandered through the studio during the making of Fire Dream, Bach was determined to let the songs go where they needed to go. Hence you get an offering like “Unavoidable Things” built around new-romantic synths, the strange thing being that the song was written on guitar with the singer channelling Buddy Holly.
As for the rest of Fire Dream, Bach and coconspirator-singer Alina Cutrono come off like a team that has a serious thing for the ’80s. On that front, they’re hardly alone, the modern indie-pop trenches being overrun with musicians pledging allegiance to a time they never knew. But where most scenesters are obsessed with the neon-glow synth-pop side of the Greed Decade, Bach seems fixated on the well-dressed likes of Peter Gabriel and Bryan Ferry.
Boasting a fabulously funky, entirely Chic underbelly, Fire Dream tracks like “Desperation” work a sophisticated, upscale vibe made for swigging martinis in Monte Carlo with ’80s-era Prince and Kate Bush. Later, you can trade guitar heroics with the members of the Power Station on the flashback postglam workout “Helpless Child” before cuing up the experimental “Interlude A” for that New York City art-show opening with Laurie Anderson.
Laughing, Bach suggests all this is entirely accidental.
“It’s almost like I wasn’t smart enough to try and consciously get the sound that I did,” he says. “I was kind of just working with what I had at the time, in a weird sort of way. I wasn’t really overly familiar with synthesizers. What happens is that I’ll sometimes work on music with new tools that I don’t know very well. I worked on the record with an ’80s synthesizer that I chose almost because I liked the spirit of it. A lot of what you hear ended up sounding the way it does almost by chance.”
But what might stand out most on Fire Dream is the weird disconnect between the music and the lyrics. The record’s title was inspired by a dream Bach had, one in which his parents ended up being murdered by close friends. Over the course of 11 shiny tracks, we get lyrics that often verge on tortured, sentiments such as “I’m still afraid of just about everything” seemingly at odds with the throwback music.
Lynch—who is famous for exploring the evil lurking beneath seemingly idyllic small towns like Twin Peaks—might very well appreciate the dichotomy.
“The drummer that plays with us gave his dad the record for Christmas, and his dad told him, ‘The singer sounds pretty sad,’ ” Bach says. “That was funny, because I never really thought about that. I think what I was after was for all the lyrics to come from, like, a place of a fire dream, and that it didn’t matter if I didn’t totally understand them. There’s something really dark about the world right now, like there’s this whole underbelly we aren’t paying attention to.”
Unless, of course, you’re Jimmy Stewart from Mars.