Double Feature plays like the soundtrack to a David Lynch movie. On one side you have what sounds like an amphetamine-fueled night ride through a worn-down city. The Yakuza are at every turn demanding protection money; the bored looking woman on the back of your chopper coolly smokes tailor-mades and rolls her eyes at danger. For some reason, Elvis haunts these parts. Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai is the guy behind these odd and bluesy, lo-fi surf tunes that sound as if they were piped in through an old coffee tin half-buried in the backyard. The six songs on this section of Double Feature are bits that didn’t make it onto Hungtai’s recently released full-length Badlands, but they work just as well as a mini-album here.
On the other side of the record, a woman sits alone in her studio playing sad piano dirges into the night. Regret and hope fill the air, mingling with a waft of bad incense meant to cover up the ever-present smell of weed. Streamers and plastic cups half-filled with red wine cover every available surface, remnants of a masquerade party from the night before. For some reason, Nico’s ghost haunts her room. This is Brooklyn’s Ela Orleans. Blending neo-folk and beach baroque, Orleans’ songs are richer in sound that Dirty Beaches, but go hand-in-hand with Hungtai’s distant strumming and dangerous ghost-Elvis snarl. Both sound like movie soundtracks. At first, the music was difficult to get my head around but after a few turns it began to sink in, kind of like watching a foreign art film and learning the language as it unfolds. Double Feature is definitely a different but worthy experience.