4 out of 5
Label: Death Waltz
Produced by: Angelo Badalamenti, David Lynch
Chances are, if you’re a fan of Angelo Badalamenti, you’re a fan if David Lynch. And if you’re a fan of David Lynch, then you likely have favorable feelings toward Twin Peaks’ initial outing, or at least its first season. And so: chances are, if you’re listening to the Twin Peaks score, it’s not exclusively as a Badalamenti pursuit, but, in part, because you’ve watched the show. So you know how iconic and transportive its main themes are; they are inextricably linked to the viewing experience. And really hard to evaluate without that influence as a result.
I mean, they should be considered together, as one influences or supports the other, but it can be difficult to say “this is a good / bad score” without, to some extent, your feelings about the show influencing your statement. And I… am not enamored with Twin Peaks. First season or not. And I am not fully enamored with its score. But: I do think it is an incredibly effective score – a.k.a. a good one – and the fact that I can’t possibly divorce the Twin Peaks audio from the visual is a testament to that.
There isn’t any arguing with the main themes, which bookend the album: the opener; Laura’s theme; the Love theme; and Julee Cruise singing over the Laura track, appropriately re-titled (in context of the character) Falling. While you have to give yourself over to the synthy, jazzy vibe of the album, the themes absolutely swirls with mystery, drifting between a sense of innocence and danger, perfectly effecting the dream-like state in which most Lynch work operates. In between you get the variations on these ideas, along with the more cheeky Bookhouse Boys and Nightlife, all of which effortlessly bring to mind the characters or moments to which they were once wed.
The mission of supporting the show is undoubtedly accomplished, and with much more depth than we would’ve expected from a series of its era.
However, I withhold bestowing endless praise upon the thing for suffering from the same issues as the show (inextricably linked, I tells ya!): that it stalls on its central idea – that mix of fear and wonder – and doesn’t dig much deeper. So those themes are wonderfully dense, and emotive, and then were sort of hanging around in the memory of them on the other tracks. The show reflected this by repeating the exact same tunes over similar character interactions countless times, to an extent that you could fast forward related scenes if you know they bore you just by tracking the musical queues.
But I digress, and re-acknowledge: If a score props up its show’s vibe, even when I consider it that vibe flawed, then ain’t the composer still just doing his job?
The Mondo reissue of this on vinyl is a little disappointing: the faux-50s jazziness should be a great sound on wax but the recording oddly doesn’t have much warmth or depth to my ears. And the vented cover is cool, but the packaging just feels like it’s missing that something extra, whatever that may be.