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Monday, 24 February 2014 17:05

Lynchian Analysis: Twin Peaks

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In honor of the just announced rerelease of the Twin Peaks soundtrack on vinyl, we decided to examine the music from David Lynch’s two-season powerhouse drama.Twin Peaks

The show, for those of you unfamiliar, combines the classic small-town coming-of-age narrative with a murder mystery. It centers on straight-A, homecoming queen, Laura Palmer whose body was found washed up, wrapped in plastic on the shores of Packard’s mill.

As the story begins to unfold you’re taken through iconic Lynchian dream sequences and character development, but the appeal is the intricacy with which Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost tell the story.

The characters, as is typical for small-town dramas, are all interwoven but with Laura’s death hanging over the town, everyone is affected and it adds an unsettling--yet intriguing--edge. It’s like a television version of Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology (a collection of poems narrating the afterlife perspective of a small-town’s residents).

The show is considered one of the most beloved series on television, scoring an amazing fourteen nominations at the Emmy Awards in its first season, and an additional four in its second. On the night of its debut, LA Times critic Howard Rosenberg wrote “Twin Peaks teeters on the very edge of exquisite absurdity. Its genius is that it plays both on the level of subtly ludicrous melodrama and on the level of a baffling whodunit, as most lines of dialogue appear to contain a hidden meaning, most faces [sic] a dark secret.”

Unfortunately, popularity waned towards the end of the second season and the show was eventually cancelled, but its iconic score is not to be overlooked. Without Angelo Badalamenti’s insanely recognizable score, the show’s legacy would have been severely stifled (we think), but with it the sounds and sights of Twin Peaks have lived on. The show’s heart-achingly beautiful intro is everything this drama needs to pull you in, and you’ve not even made it past the credits.

The opening track, known simply as “Twin Peaks Theme” seems to shout “small town,” “mystery,” “death,” “beauty,” and “young love” all at once. Then they hit you with Laura Palmer’s theme, which you’ll notice every time something pertaining to her murder is afoot.

Following the musical themes is as enjoyable and as interesting as the characters represented. “Dance Of The Dream Man” is another great theme, but “Audrey’s Dance” and “The Nightingale” -- featuring vocal by Julee Cruise -- are equally as intriguing and quirky.

Brian Mansfield, for Allmusic.com, describes the score brilliantly:

The score “Set the tone for David Lynch’s bizarre television soap with a haunting theme created from electric piano, synthetic strings, and the twangiest guitar this side of Duane Eddy. The love theme, appropriately enough, sounds like a funeral march. The rest of the music, instantly recognizable to anyone who saw even one episode of the series, borders on fever-dream jazz. The music from Twin Peaks is dark, cloying, and obsessive -- and one of the best scores ever written for television.”

The series is being released on blu-ray in precisely 31 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes, and 30 seconds (at the time of writing), and you can hear the soundtrack now on Spotify, but the vinyl rerelease doesn’t yet have a date.

According to welcometotwinpeaks.com, Death Waltz Recording Company -- the company set to reissue the albums -- promises to maintain the “analog sound” beloved by the show’s fans and to “press enough copies to go round!”

If you’re a fan of all Lynch’s work and happen to live in NY, or want to plan a trip, see our story on the Lynch theater event and try to catch a showing! If you can’t make the show, visit Lynch’s website for more on the artist’s work, and visit welcometotwinpeaks.com for the latest!