And as the last note from “Love Theme” fades, David Lynch pats Angelo Badalamenti on the back, before leaning closer to whisper, “you are my muse.” Angelo, caressing the hand resting on his back, returns “and you mine.” The two, now with hands clasped, are shrouded by a ring of light, a light that grows outwards, piercing the room and reaching into the sky before vanishing in a galvanic flash; revealing a composing-directing singularity where two men had previously sat.
This is what I imagine happened sometime around Blue Velvet reaching post-production. A moment of fusion, maybe not as literal as my interpretation, but a moment where Lynch and Badalamenti understood another so fluently that their ideas synchronised and TV’s greatest composer-director duo was born.
There’s a harmony between the composition and the content of the series that may never be recreated. The scored themes melt to the characters and the story as it unfolds, moving from ambient and melancholy to dreamy and sublime, creating audio cues that provoke the subconscious into expecting certain things to happen when a certain theme plays. And for as much as the series has been lauded, the soundtrack has still managed to become its own creature.
It’s been labelled the summit of TV soundtracks and title track Twin Peaks Theme has even snatched a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance back in 1991. The music itself is an exploration of the same themes the show contemplates, peeling back the veil of suburbia and challenging the tropes of good and evil through a range of orchestral and contemporary sounds.
Classically trained Badalamenti opens the soundtrack with a hymn for suburban America, Twin Peaks Theme is calm and progresses with climbing synths and a clear, simple bass. But the lower piano cords come in almost discordantly, and leave the sense that something about the song is to be mourned, like there’s something beneath its surface. It’s this sensation of distrust that is shared between the series and the soundtrack mutually.
The three songs with actual vocals are no less plangent or reflective, combining the lyrics written by David Lynch and the voice of Julee Cruise to form ballads that remain beautiful in their eeriness. Laura Palmer’s Theme is an unsettling mix of piano and synth that wanders between good and bad, but like the character herself, never decisively falls one way or the other. The entire album is haunting, nostalgic and some the most atmospheric music to ever originate from a visual format.
On Monday the 22nd of May, 2017, Twin Peaks returned with the many faces that had made the show what it is, an aged Sheryl Lee, two versions of Kyle Maclachlan’s Dale Cooper and a thinning James Marshall as James Hurley. But the return would have been decaf without the ambient soundtrack from Angelo Badalamenti, and just as the Soundtrack From Twin Peaks remains his magnum opus, so does it remain the summit of TV composition.
To celebrate the return of Twin Peaks in 2017, Rhino have re-reissued the original Soundtrack From Twin Peaks on a 180-gram vinyl. The soundtrack will feature the original tracklist (picture below) and has been available for purchase since May 19th.
TWIN PEAKS TRACK LISTING
- Twin Peaks Theme
- Laura Palmer’s Theme
- Audrey’s Dance
- The Nightingale – vocals by Julee Cruise
- Freshly Squeezed
- The Bookhouse Boys
- Into the Night – vocals by Julee Cruise
- Nightlife in Twin Peaks
- Dance of the Dream Man
- Love Theme from Twin Peaks
- Falling – vocals by Julee Cruise
Twin Peaks is currently streaming on Stan.