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Soundtrack review: Twin Peaks – The return (Angelo Badalamenti – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Twin Peaks – The return (Angelo Badalamenti – 2017)

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Writing about “Twin Peaks – The return” without touching on the original series is a tight rope walk I am willing to take because of how different the two entities actually are. I grew up with Twin Peaks; the first incarnation of the show caught me at the right age and I ate it up, became addicted, to the show, the books, the music, everything. Everything except the second half of the second season maybe…and I thought that one was bad. Suffice to say I reviewed all 191 cues from the Twin Peaks archive that David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti made available for the first two seasons and the movie. When I heard that we were going back to that place I was as happy as every single Twin Peaks fan was. I counted the days…I marked the calendar…and by the fifth episode I decided for maybe the first time in my life that nostalgia, as astonishingly high as it was int his case, wasn’t enough to keep me watching this…thing that David Lynch wrote either having gone completely insane with his love with his own weirdness and legend or in an attempt to completely punk Showtime and the fans with something senseless, useless and, ultimately for me, unwatchable. But music is music and since the original score is in my top 10 of all time and since the same composer returned I was as excited about the score release regardless of the incoherent dribble that happened on screen.

The album opens with the iconic, unforgettable main theme that for me is unbeatable in this world or the next. No matter how many times I might listen to it the feelings it gives me are just as intense as the first time I heard it. The music takes me back to that charming and insane small town filled with secrets and cruelty. I wish the show had taken me back as well but the charm was completely gone. For me the moment that marked the difference in scope and perspective between the two shows was when a murder of a high school kid was announced to the police; this was the most important element in the original, the heaviest moment, the one that started it all while in The Return it was treated as a trivial even and never mentioned again. But I digress. “Laura Palmer’s theme”, the love theme from Twin Peaks which I often enjoyed even more than the main theme, also returns in its original form and my comfort zone with the album is established.

Having extensively listened to the entire Twin Peaks musical archive helps me connect easier with the new material. “Accident / Farewell theme”, the first new theme from this score, sounds as if taken from the same dark basement of wonders where the harpsichord rules; it’s a seductive and addictive ambient melody, dark and sad, the kind that leaves me longing for more. The jazz vibes that made up for the other half of the original sound return as well in “Grady groove” or “Deer Meadow Shuffle”, another outtake from the archive. I love the ambient echo of “Windswept (reprise)” by Johhny Jewel because it fits perfectly with the Twin Peaks atmosphere and opens my eyes and ears to an artist I want to get to know better. I am addicted to ambient music more than anything and 5 cues into this score I have forgotten all about the actual show and I am on my own trip inside the thick forest of the music.

Listening to this score makes me wonder what went wrong with the show because I know David Lynch was deeply involved in the music, as usual, and it recaptures just the atmosphere and moods I was looking for; there is absolutely no flaw in the darkness of this score, in the slow burning tortured keys of the cues, in the minimalistic yet poignant way in which textural pieces like “Dark mood woods / the red room” or “The chair” flow. Once again I remember a similar “Dark mood woods” theme from the archives except it was a 16 minutes long version there. I love getting lost in music like this, I love exploring these cues and once again the harpsichord and synth pad. “Night” could very well be the moment of closure for me with this score, with this show, because it sounds like a sequel to Laura’s theme and it’s my favourite new piece from this album.

Textural is the key word for “Twin Peaks – the return”. Angelo Badalamenti dug into his vast library of hours and hours of Twin Peaks sounds, motifs, scrapped pieces, reworks and ideas and came up with an album that lacks the melodic and thematic qualities of the original but is even more fascinating. Just as David Lynch did, Angelo left the comfort of the small town for the dark and mysterious woods. He saw the light in the warmest piano theme of the score, “Heartbreaking”, the evolution, the maturity of the themes from 26 years ago, the kind of cue that brings tears in my eyes without me even noticing it. I might not have been ready for the show itself but I was more than ready for this score. Ambient music is my drug and when it’s as intense and addictive as this album, I am a happy customer.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 54 / 73

Album excellence: 74%

Highlights:
Twin Peaks Theme (Angelo Badalamenti)
Laura Palmer’s Theme (Love Theme From Twin Peaks) (Angelo Badalamenti)
Accident / Farewell Theme (Angelo Badalamenti)
Windswept (Reprise) (Johnny Jewel)
Dark Mood Woods / The Red Room (Angelo Badalamenti)
The Chair (Angelo Badalamenti)
Deer Meadow Shuffle (Angelo Badalamenti)
The Fireman (Angelo Badalamenti)
Night (Angelo Badalamenti)
Heartbreaking (Angelo Badalamenti)
Audrey’s Dance (Angelo Badalamenti)
Dark Space Low (Angelo Badalamenti)

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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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2 Comments

  1. Ian Smith 21st September 2017

    Check out that Windswept album by Johnny Jewel: it’s essentially a Twin Peaks album in all but name and possibly superior to either of the official soundtracks that Twin Peaks: The Return spawned.

    Reply
    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 21st September 2017

      Thank you, I will

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