Danny Elfman Debuts Video for “True” From First New Solo Album in 37 Years “Big Mess”

I got no destination

I just got termination

We talk about our harmony

We think about our termination

Happy belated Elfman Day! At last, following a blistering, intense series of singles, Danny Elfman announces a sprawling, ambitious 18-track double album, entitled Big Mess, his first solo album in thirty-seven years.

Accompanying the announcement is another 11th-day release, the video and single True. Multimedia artist Sarah Sitkin created the video, which embodies the nightmarish vision of a man on the brink of oblivion, a parade of death masks, and glitchy flashback. In contrast to the explosions of fury in the other tracks of Big Mess, this one is more contemplative. True is a modern death aria, a lamentation, a surrender, directly facing down hopelessness and despair. Elfman’s vocals are gritty and growling; his raw, unfiltered delivery adds to the atmosphere of deep pathos.

Photo: Jacob Boll

“The video is an exploration of fractured identity, muffled through the lens of memory,” Sitkin revealed. “Danny is a central figure within the video, yet only in his reproduced likeness via prosthetics, masks and 3d printed body parts. I wanted to make a video that was gritty, unpolished and uncomfortable.”

Watch True here:

Big Mess was birthed during Danny Elfman’s ongoing experimentation with orchestral strings and aggressive rock. Inspired by four years of creeping fascism and civil rot, the Grammy/Emmy winning composer used his ample quarantine time to spontaneously dive into a deeply demonic, dystopian palette of distorted electric guitars, industrial synths, and orchestra. Joining him on the album are drummer Josh Freese (Devo, Weezer), bassist Stu Brooks (Lady Gaga, Lauryn Hill), NIN guitarist Robin Finck, and Nili Brosh (Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert).

He reflects upon its creation: “Once I began writing, it was like opening a Pandora’s box, and I found I couldn’t stop. None of it was planned. I had no idea how many songs I would write, but from the start it quickly became a two-sided project with heavily contrasting and even conflicting tones.”

Big Mess anchors itself in the political intensity of the 21st century, serving as both forms of deeply personal emotional journalism, an outlet of rage, and a meditation on the greed and sickness of the American ruling class.  In making the space to truly sit with his emotions and write uninhibitedly, Elfman achieved the artistic liberation that had been eluding him for decades, rediscovering his voice and reinventing himself in the process. The songs on Big Mess combine harmonically complex arrangements, high energy driving music, and acerbic wit as they confront the chaos and confusion of the modern world. “2020 was an intense year, to say the very least,” Elfman says.

“I knew from the start that this wasn’t going to be a neat, easy-to-categorize record,” says Elfman. “It was always destined to be this crazy cacophony, because that’s who I am. The Big Mess is me.”

Elfman is also releasing a limited edition Big Mess box set. The album artwork was created by Sarah Sit-in from a series of 3D body scans, and designed/art directed by Berit Gwendolyn Gilma. The collector’s edition contains the full album, along with unreleased remixes and alternate versions of songs, Additionally the package will include collectible artwork, a unique USB with video content and bonus material, and an exclusive art book featuring Sarah Sitkin’s original creations and never-before seen photos and ephemera.

The box set will be available this autumn via Epitaph Records. More forthcoming.

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Alice Teeple

Alice Teeple is a photographer, multidisciplinary artist, and writer. She is not in Tin Machine.

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