REVIEW/COMMENT
Words: Dominic Valvona


Monolith Cocktail - Twin Peaks OST

Angelo Badalamenti   ‘Twin Peaks: The Original Soundtrack’
Reissued on vinyl by Death Waltz Records 

Originally aired, give or take, 25 years ago to an audience mostly left bewildered but hooked, the David Lynch and Mark Frost series Twin Peaks left an indelible mark on all those who tuned in to see it, and culture at large. Enjoying a resurgent reappraisal of sorts in the run-up to the third TV series, due to hit screens in the first half of 2017 (aired on Showtime), the most anticipated and welcome return of a cult is now presently being streamed online and the original unsettling but beguiling soundtrack has just hit the shops in the form of a vinyl reissue. From the resurrection experts of many an obscure, left lain dormant, horror and supernatural schlock soundtrack, Death Waltz, a remastered version with new liner notes from its composer Angelo Badalamenti was released earlier this month.

The Internet rumor mill has gone into hyperbole as speculation mounts over the third installment plot. Whilst information is drip-fed to the public – news of this return was announced way back in 2014 – it seems a connected storyline will link it to the original with some of the cast members from the first two outings making a return appearance.

Drawing from the Lynch’s surreal well of morbid and strange curiosity, Twin Peaks’ heart of darkness featured, depending on whether you took the psychoanalytic or supernatural path, a schizophrenic abuser, vessel for a demonic entity, committing the most heinous of crimes, and a central femme fatale, laughing on the outside but crying in a pit of despair on the inside, whose only escape from her tormenter is death. Throughout the series duality is key: As the plot arcs unfold we learn that almost every character has their opposing opposite; some even have a doppelganger; others a foe; yet both make the flawed complete. Even the title itself screams it out loud and clear. Offsetting the esoteric dread, backward talking dwarf and cryptic clue hinting giant, sexual depravity, seedy crime and kookiness is the humour. If the show wasn’t odd enough already, Lynch and Frost place faces from stalwart American daytime soaps and murder mysteries (most notably Columbo and Murder She Wrote; both shows me and Miss Vine adore) into the macabre daemonic world; their hammy and sometimes stilted performances turn Twin Peaks into the farcical throughout.





A dark comedy, a supernatural whodunit, Twin Peaks is many things. Yet even now it evades classification. Perhaps the most influential and, open to debate, savior of early 90s TV the original two series continues to influence. Imbuing if not inspiring, its writing, esoteric meets American cherry pie closeted world themes and settings permeate throughout the TV schedules and film industry (most notably Fargo in recent years). Though running out of steam, and taken off air, it remains a standard bearer for quality and ambition.

But all of this would be unimaginable without the stunning evocative soundtrack; supplied by Lynch’s long-running musical foil Angelo Badalamenti, who entwined both the magic and horror into an often ethereal and ominous veiled suite. Rightly applauded with a Grammy award in 1990 for ‘best pop instrumental performance’ for the main Twin Peaks theme tune, Badalamenti’s eerie and lush tremolo-echoed opening perfectly sets the scene of a beguiling haunted northwestern American everglade, teeming with omnipresent mystery. A gracefully poised and gentle, almost a lullaby, the main signature acts as leitmotif; made more melodramatic and chilling on ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’; part soap, part classical black key trepidation it passes over like a phantom miasma but also offers a plaintive release. Channeling the maddening demon “Bob”, and other miscreant lost souls that inhabit the backwater towns twilight hours, ‘Night Life’ is the most unsettling with its low synth sinister drones and stalker pacing.

 

Far less creepy the album’s light relief is found in the gumshoe noir cocktail and louche lounge brushed snare jazz of ‘Freshly Squeezed’, and the finger-snapping dreamy vibraphone suspense of ‘Audrey’s Dance’; piqued by arch quivers to denote caution and that something strange is afoot. Of course many will remember the unforgettable breathless cooing vocals of another of Lynch’s collaborators, Julee Cruise. Almost like a vapour; a gauzy veil of a voice, Cruise has one of the most translucent vocals of any artist in recording history. She blows in on the beautifully dreamy doo-wop lament ‘The Nightingale’ like an angelic sweetened but damaged 50s throwback. She adds a delicate hymn like ethereal warning to ‘Into The Night’ and gives a whispery misty diaphanous performance on the closing ‘Falling’ love chaste. Originally written by the triumvirate of Badalamenti/Lynch/Cruise in 1989, ‘Falling’ appeared on Cruise’s debut LP Floating Into The Night before becoming the synonymous signature for Twin Peaks.

Bringing the various threads together ‘The Bookhouse Boys’ superimposes the different character themes and moods over each other to create a deft cacophony of suspense. All the angles are played out, from disturbing voyeurism and Laura Palmer’s morose sacrifice to the cool jazz shuffles that accompany the so-called guardians of the town and Agent Cooper.

 

Still just as evocative and stirring, even in isolation taken away from the TV series, as it was all those years back the Twin Peaks soundtrack will hopefully entrance a new generation. Released in its wake, Badalamenti’s score for the accompanying feature-length prequel Fire Walk With Me will also receive the Death Waltz resurrection on vinyl. The actual film was met with catcalls and howls of derision on its release, though the soundtrack is a concomitant continuation of the previous series. Lynch attempted to expand, though many said at the time “cash-in”, on the Twin Peaks universe, bringing in even more characters and plot threads, whilst exhaustively dragging out the sorrowful demise of the chief protagonist, over the films two hour duration. Only a third of the way into to the second series the writers, after finally outing the murderer, began to drift off into the paranormal, throwing in countless references to conspiracy theories, alien abduction, secret societies, to ever-outlandish degrees until eventually running out of gas. Yet it always remained watchable, even though the TV network lost patience and cancelled it.

There’s bound to be more reverence in the run-up to the third series in 2017. For example, next month sees the publication of the spin off novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks by original co-creator of the series Mark Frost, which bridges the gap between the end of the second series and the third. Meanwhile lose yourselves in the soundtrack reissue in preparation for the most anticipated TV moments of recent times.





%d bloggers like this: