This is the soundtrack from the early 90's television show 'Twin Peaks'. All songs are written by Angelo Badalamenti and were also produced by him and the show's writer and producer David Lynch. The album features mostly instrumental tracks but there a few tracks with vocals by Julee Cruise. Cruise is best known for performing the show's theme tune 'Falling'.
Twin Peaks is a true enigma and the town is populated by oddball characters whose motives are often shady. The plotline of the show involves the Laura Palmer murder mystery - a beautiful homecoming queen who had been living a secret life. Yet even in the wake of this tragedy there are as many situations on the show which exploit a mood of black comedy as there are that are steeped in sombre reflection. The music of Twin Peaks plays a vitally important part of creating these various moods and enhancing the themes of the show. This album, then, contains a mix of upbeat, swinging jazz tracks and softer, sadder laments.
The music in the show was always very noticable and the melodies always very memorable. I think it is testament to the quality of the music and the show that people who have watched might recall a scene simply from hearing a little snippet of Badalamenti's score.
The track listing is as follows:
1. Twin Peaks Theme Instrumental: This is the beautiful, romantic theme song which played over the show's iconic credits. Everytime I hear this I feel like I am swooning - it is so stunning.
2. Laura Palmer's Theme: This track was used a lot to colour a moment of intense drama or when something ominous was about to occur. There is a sense of tension which builds up then spills into a mournful, melodic section. It is both eerie and beautiful and captures the sense of loss associated with death and the end of romance.
3. Audrey's Dance: This is a lively, naughty piece of music which seems to tease and snap. The snapping finger style percussion is quirky and cute.
4. The Nightingale: This track is performed by Julee Cruise. Lyrics to all songs appear in the CD booklet. This is a pretty, sweeping song where Cruise's cotton-candy soft voice sings with a tone of hope. The lyrics are poetic and moving. I am reminded of youth and romance when I listen to this song.
5.Freshly Squeezed: This track is a little meandering. The percussion is frothy and this cymbal track is cut with chimes and bass strings. The tone is upbeat and there is a comedy feel to it- as if it is the theme of a geek!
6. The Bookhouse Boys: This starts with a smoky, sexy saxaphone intro. The percusion then kicks in and has a rabid energy. The rhythm is uneven and this causes unease. There is a sense of something about to go wrong.
7. Into The Night: This is an eerie track voiced once again by Julee Cruise. The lyrics begin with a whispered line and this feels strange and scary. The lyrics talk of shadows, darkness and fruitless searching. It is a dark, sad song with a sharp, dramatic peak in the middle.
8. Night Life In Twin Peaks: This is a terrifying, unsettling track and evokes images of night and danger. There are skewed, incongrous sounds used in the track to promote this feeling. The sustained one note keyboard voice makes me feel like I'm in limbo.
9. Dance of The Dream Man: This is a brisk version of 'Freshly Squeezed' and it has more flair and is much more upbeat and energetic. It is a happy track that suggests progress and enterprise.
10. Love Theme: This is a variation on 'Laura Palmer's theme' and is performed on clarinet and flute. The use of these instruments seem to add a mist and darkness to the song. It is beautiful but full of regret and sadness. This is one of my favourite tracks and the climax of the melody always makes me feel like crying.
12. Falling: This is the theme song with vocal by Julee Cruise. This song was a chart hit for this singer and was widely praised by the show's fans. It is a lovely song with simple, poetic language and the voice of an angel. It is ultra romantic.
I love listening to this album and find that the music inspires a range of responses in me. I can be moved or inspired, I can laugh or cry. Only one of the tracks doesn't work so well as a stand alone song - this being 'Night Life..." as it is too abstract to have much meaning. Otherwise, this album is a stunner and definately one I couldn't live without!
Review also appears on Ciao!
David Lynch and Mark Frost's 'Twin Peaks' was one of the defining television series of the nineties, its success and surprising popularity opening up the possibilities for supernatural-themed drama that followed, from series such as 'The X-Files' and 'Buffy' to more recent works like 'Lost' that still share a distinct serialised format. Its unique atmosphere, in the first season at least, was a mix of clichéd soap opera parody and a distinctly darker edge exploring the seedy, secretive life beneath the surface of a close-knit community also evident in Lynch's earlier success 'Blue Velvet,' and the soundtrack succeeds admirably in capturing this bipolar fusion in Angelo Badalamenti's electronic jazz themes and the pleasantly eerie original songs from Julee Cruise, with lyrics written by Lynch. The job was never going to be an easy one, and it's interesting to ponder how the series would have been affected if a different composer had been drafted, but for the most part these compositions are perfectly suited to the scenarios they were originally prescribed in the early episodes, before being repeated endlessly thereafter to varying degrees of relevance.
The 'Twin Peaks Theme' itself is a great piece of music that's soothing and also somewhat joyous in its overture of soft horns, and of course the listener receives the added benefits of early nineties nostalgia and pleasant nature imagery through the mental recollection of the opening titles that accompanied it in its edited form (that little robin, ahh). For containing the more memorable and prominent scores, this first section of the album is the most appealing and entertaining, and while it's a little odd to hear the opening theme stretched out to a full five minutes, the subsequent 'Laura Palmer's Theme' is a very revealing and intricate piece familiar to most viewers as three or four separate themes, so it's a real surprise to learn that the opening, middle and closing sections of the major movement (repeated a few times over five minutes) were all part of the same extended piece. The opening keyboard bars would come to characterise any night-time establishing shot aimed towards a sinister mood, and once the powerful piano melody reaches its full strength, it brought back the memory of Laura's parents sobbing in grief over their daughter's death, just before Leland Palmer went crazy ape bonkers.
When it comes to scene-specific themes, the next track is the most offending, memorably used to introduce the sultry and similarly unhinged Audrey in the pilot but afterwards cropping up in the most random places. It's the first of Badalamenti's jazz pieces, performed on piano, xylophone, sax and clicking fingers, but certainly isn't the last; tracks five and nine both follow pretty much the same course but with less distinction, though the latter has the advantage of being tied to the series' most famous scene of all, and has a Pink Panther style sax solo for people who like that sort of thing. The problem of repetition affects much of the album in its second half, the 'Love Theme' being essentially a slightly different version of Laura's theme performed in a Vangelis-style Oriental flute keyboard melody that doesn't particularly serve to conjure feelings of love at all, while Laura's theme also forms the foundation of 'Freshly Squeezed.'
The other major thread running through this album is Julee Cruise, the show's in-house singer, whose haunting, angelic style is of the variety that reminds you that angels are dead people. 'The Nightingale' is her finest achievement here, memorable from the show itself and also catchy in a commercially viable manner than her later, more atmosphere-based songs fail to attain. It's great just how well she does fit in to Badalamenti's sound (thank god they didn't go for a rock singer for coolness), but she's also sadly responsible for the album's sole abomination, the closing 'Falling' that attempts to butcher the Twin Peaks theme by adding lyrics in the way Anita Dobson butchered the 'EastEnders' titles, a show I'm naturally too interesting to watch but that I'd have to endure the sound of my mum singing along to three times a week as a child. Listening to this album too frequently could have the same effect, if you ever find yourself supplying Cruise's lyrics of love and friendship or whatever it was to a great theme song that was never designed to have vocals, so I'd urge you to be like me and try your best to erase them from your short-term memory as soon as the album has reached the end.
Apart from the finale, this is a decent soundtrack album from a great TV show that becomes very repetitive but at least aims to be comprehensive, though I have no idea whether there's material missing that was used in the show but not present on the soundtrack, I don't have the recall power and attention to detail of dooyoo's soundtrack guru berlioz II. The lounge jazz stuff may put some people off, but this is a great album for relaxation if you're partial to a bit of synth, and it conjures pleasant pastoral images of waterfalls, robins and dead teenage girls wrapped in plastic.
1. Twin Peaks Theme
2. Laura Palmer's Theme
3. Audrey's Dance
4. The Nightingale (Julee Cruise)
5. Freshly Squeezed
6. The Bookhouse Boys
7. Into the Night (Julee Cruise)
8. Night Life in Twin Peaks
9. Dance of the Dream Man
10. Love Theme from Twin Peaks
11. Falling (Julee Cruise)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Twin Peaks
2 Laura Palmer's Theme
3 Audrey's Dance
5 Freshly Squeezed
6 Bookhouse Boys
7 Into The Night
8 Night Life In Twin Peaks
9 Dance Of The Dream Man
10 Twin Peaks (1)