Review Summary: Though TV soundtracks are not conventionally associated with amazing musical content, this particular masterwork from composer Angelo Badalamenti proves to be as unconventional as its TV counterpart. A mesmerizing, haunting and touching epic.
If you have not heard of Twin Peaks, you've almost certainly seen the effects of it somewhere. Its effects on the standards of network televised entertainment rendered critics speechless (although, unfortunately, they found their voices before long) and mass audiences flocking their TV set to witness the phenomenon that was unfolding before their eyes.
But, really, Twin Peaks was an amazing murder-mystery show that aired in the early nineties for only two seasons before it became too bizarre for many viewers, causing the show to spiral into the deep depths of untimely cancellations--a condition that plagues the fans of decent TV (Joan of Arcadia, anyone?). Despite this, Twin Peaks did not go down without leaving its unique mark on American television. The brainchild of legendary director David Lynch and writer Mark Frost, the show's extremely unique look into the dark underbelly of American suburbia was simultaneously fascinating, haunting, strange, quirky, beautiful, and even hilarious. Twin Peaks' wildly successful formula has been repeated many times since on shows such as Desperate Housewives. The trouble is, without any imagination and lacking the quirkiness of characters like Special Agent Dale Cooper and the Dancing Dream Man, the witless Desperate Housewives will never repeat the phenomenon of Twin Peaks. It was a show that caught its viewers unwittingly in a world of haunting atmosphere, beauty, intrigue, and strange darkness.
This soundtrack does the same.
But let's start from the beginning. Angelo Badalamenti is a modern day composer/pianist/keyboardist who should
need no introduction, but unfortunately does. His collaborations with David Lynch are completely unforgettable, blending masterstrokes of film with masterpieces of music. There's a synergy between the two mediums that is undeniably palpable, yet at the same time beautifully unique and subtle. Luckily for us, Badalamenti�s pieces are just as compelling�and often intensely moving�without their film counterparts; they stand on their own as not only masterful compositions and displays of atmospheric and textural perfection, but also as slices of nostalgic memoirs of a lost soul.
Twin Peaks (I�ll now begin referring to this album as Twin Peaks) particularly stands out in Badalamenti�s repertoire, displaying the composer�s skills in strikingly versatile form. The album weaves in and out of a plethora of emotions and moods. It�s an extremely atmospheric opus that utilizes the musical effects of string orchestras, pianos, keyboards and singers in a beautiful fashion. While most of the songs are instrumentals composed by Badalamenti (and occasionally collaborator David Lynch), some employ the gorgeous voice of Julee Cruise�a tool that truly serves to enhance the amazing atmosphere of songs like The Nightingale
and Into the Night
. The former employs subtle guitar tones with a distant saxophone melody, overplayed by Cruise�s soft voice for one of the most beautiful and melancholy songs on the album. The latter takes on a darker tone; Cruise�s voice is fragile, floating; the keyboards simply ethereal; the underlying strings ominous, sublime. The song is downright amazing.
There is a darkness that runs underneath the belly of this release (much like its complement TV show), but it is not an overwhelming presence. It is a tranquil darkness that allows the beauty of the music to shine even more, a foil that both counterstrikes and compliments. Who can forget the swelling orchestral movements of the show�s melancholy theme song, or the tear-welling, gut-wrenching crescendos of piano, strings and keyboards in Laura Palmer�s Theme
�perhaps the most moving and heartbreaking moment on the entire album? Night Life in Twin Peaks
is a downright brooding, shadowy piece of music with booming strings and chirping flutes. Still, even at the core of its heart of sadness, Twin Peaks sees a light at the end of the tunnel. There are too many complex layers to this masterpiece to explain anything to full effect. This release creates a spiraling paradox in which the more you peel back, the more you reveal and the more contrasting elements you see working hand in hand for a completely unique experience.
Let�s not forget the great fun of Badalamenti�s trademark jazzy shuffle beat songs. Audrey�s Dance
slinks through the speakers with swells of vibraphone, off-kilter brass, dissonant woodwinds and moody beats, seducing the listener into a friendly trance�all the while the song readies its ulterior motive, preparing to strike and deceive with graceful ingenuity. The song seems to slide surreptitiously into place, then weaves itself into the overall atmosphere before the listener can even blink. The Bookhouse Boys
swirls through a distant ominous tone, intertwining shuffle beats and moments of dark, sparse instrumentation for one of the most interesting pieces on the album. With a flawless transition into the above-mentioned The Nightingale, Badalamenti achieves one of his best, trance-inducing moments ever. Any fan of the television show will reminisce with the smooth groove of Dance of the Dream Man
, which bops through the speakers with soulful saxophone and a chilled rhythm. The album ends on an incredibly moving and infinitely sad piece, which is a rendition of the first song with Julee Cruise adding her sweet, soft vocal talents. It is the perfect ending for such a release.
If I had only one word to describe this album, it would be �subtle.� Then again, there are some amazing not-so-subtle moments on here. But to hell with it, there�s no way to describe this to full effect, much less describing it in one word. So listen to it for yourself, and prepare to be swept away in its gorgeous, ethereal uniqueness and nostalgic quality. It may leave you slightly confused as you reach one song like an indescribable bout of deja-vu, before going into a piece of music that is unlike anything you�ve ever heard before. Badalamenti is a composer who is capable of greatness, and it shows on this album.
Highly recommended to any fan of music.