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Soundtrack review: Twin Peaks archive – episode 1 (music from “Pilot”) – Angelo Badalamenti

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Soundtrack review: Twin Peaks archive – episode 1 (music from “Pilot”) – Angelo Badalamenti

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How would you feel if suddenly they announced that they were resuming your childhood? Because you wanted it so much, as a special favor, your childhood will be resumed, next year, from the point where it stopped over 25 years ago. Wouldn’t that be one of the most amazing gifts you could get? Wouldn’t you start remembering what was going on back then, the special moments, and bask in the sweet joy of anticipation? It will all come back, but not just a replay, as you often did in your mind, but as a continuation.
As the “Twin Peaks” theme starts, there’s a unique flow of memories and feelings. This flow is even deeper and more intense now, when it’s official that the show will resume in 2016, after a 25 year break. I remember the evening when I saw the first episode. I was about 12, and I had been anticipating it, we knew it was going to be something special. I spent that afternoon playing soccer with my best friend and watching the neighbors across the street, some French kids we wanted to become friends with. We had just cooked up a clever ploy to maybe accidentally lose the ball in their yard, when we realized that it was time for the show to start… I still can’t believe that we’re going back to that place that still exists…It’s a dream I, as many others, have been having since it ended so abruptly. The show, the place, the characters are as immortal as this theme song by Angelo Badalamenti. They’ve always been there, their time continued flowing for the past 25 years, and we’re going back. And this news deserves a special celebration. Since David Lynch was kind enough to bring to light a few years ago the entire musical archive of Twin Peaks (212 songs, over 9 hours), I will be reviewing it in 9 episodes, every Saturday, starting from today. Saturday was the day we used to see Twin Peaks here, so it’s appropriate. The music of “Twin Peaks” is as crazy as the show itself: an insane mix of wonderful jazz, orchestral pieces, percussion cues or the saddest piano tunes you could ever hear.
The first review is for the music heard in the famous Pilot episode. There are few TV show themes as recognizable and haunting as the “Twin Peaks” main theme. There are few themes ever composed that match this one in beauty. There is no other theme for me so linked to a show, to specific scenery, like this one. The main theme makes me see those opening credits…the calm, idyllic images of mountain, trees, a quiet saw mill, a river…a small town lost in its own time and space…a town that hides something underneath all that. Nostalgia factor aside, “Twin Peaks theme” is a perfect cue. You can smell the fresh and chili mountain air when you listen to it. The emotions are subdued, but so deep that you can’t see the bottom. There’s sadness in this theme, thin and neverending as the morning mist…it’s not as heavy as not to allow you to go on, but it leaves unforgettable marks. If “Twin Peaks theme” sets the tone for the time and place of the show and serves as a welcome into that mysterious place, “Laura Palmer’s theme”, its counterpart, breaks your heart from the get go so you wouldn’t get hurt later. The main character of the story, who is found dead in the first couple of minutes, gets a theme so bittersweet, so heartbreaking, so intense that it’s hard not to get teary eyed when you hear it. You can hear echoes of the joy that her life must have had, dark tones of the demons that haunted her, and the immense sadness of loss.
The jazz bits in this first episode are brilliant. “Audrey’s dance” (with three different versions), “Dance of the dream man” (with two versions) and “The Bookhouse boys” are groovy and mysterious, twisted and addictive, playful and creepy, the perfect sounds to introduce us to what lied beneath the apparently calm and uneventful life of Twin Peaks. Flirty and playful Audrey…the Bookhouse Boys trying to keep the order in the town and the strangest character in TV show land, the dream man…unforgettable characters.The jazz cues slowly and cunningly peck away at the clean image of the characters and start unveiling us their dark sides. Once we’re there, it gets really dark. “Half speed orchestra 1” and “Slow speed orchestra 1” (an 8 minute long threat) were the blueprints of the menacing and suspenseful themes of the show. It is horror music at its best, following you everywhere, making you want to turn on the light, creeping around you and covering you like an invisible spider web.
“Love theme”, a slightly lighter variation of the “Laura Palmer theme” is present in this first part of the score with its solo Rhodes piano version. This version is so intimate and sweet that I imagine having a music box with this tune. The lonely metallic sound of this version would be perfect for a toy like that and I would carry it with me everywhere. That’s how love feels in Twin Peaks. Listen to that theme and you will know. It’s not your usual sweet, joyful and hopeful feeling…
And we come to Julee Cruise’s incredible voice…”Twin Peaks” wouldn’t have been the same without the most haunting and ethereal voice I can remember, a maker of dreams….David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti discovered her and used her unique vocal capabilities for “Falling”, the vocal version of the main theme. Her voice adds a dimension I didn’t think could exist to an already perfect composition and leaves me stunned and hypnotized every time I listen to it. The Nightingale lessens a bit the grip sadness had taken on our hearts and brings about as much hope as the Twin Peaks world can ever see…
The first chapter of the archives ends with a piano-only take of “Laura Palmer’s theme”. If you take a heartbreakingly beautiful theme and strip it of every other instrument, leaving only the piano to convey the emotions, you get one minute that will send you all alone to the darkest basement…
…to be continued….
My ratings:
Cue rating: 80 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 43 / 70
Album excellence: 62%
Cues to listen to:
Twin Peaks Theme
Laura Palmer’s Theme
I’m Hurt Bad (Industrial Symphony No. 1 version)
Audrey’s Dance (Clean Fast)
The Bookhouse Boys
Dance of the Dream Man (original)
Dance of the Dream Man (Solo Sax)
Love Theme (Solo Rhodes)
Falling
The Nightingale
Laura Palmer’s Theme (Piano A) take 2
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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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