The Ones I Rarely Play: Angelo Badalementi – “Soundtrack from Twin Peaks”

I bought this one because I loved Twin Peaks (that the cliffhanger ending to season 2 was left unresolved because the series was cancelled is, twenty-two years on, a nagging frustration), and because its soundtrack was not just the most apt I have ever heard but almost a character in itself.

The CD is like visiting Twin Peaks: Badalamenti’s slow, soft, atmospheric, jazz-inflected sounds offer minimalist melodies, of which the theme music is a perfect example. It appears here as the opening and closing tracks, the latter being the vocal version, entitled ‘Falling’, a number 8 hit in the UK, sung by the impossibly fragile-sounding (and looking) Julee Cruise. The track is built around the repeated three-note bass riff, overlaid with a synthesizer playing the main melody, rising slowly towards a peak.

Another example is the theme for the Man from Another Place, which is built upon a shuffling rhythm of plucked double bass and lightly brushed percussion providing the platform for a saxaphone to blow.

I said jazz-inflected above. I am not into jazz, I know very little about it and understand even less, so my comments here betray a deep-rooted ignorance. What I hear is a smoky, lazy sound, music that plays in dark, sparsely populated clubs whose patrons sit in silence, absorbing the sound as much through their skins as their ears. In the series, the music is not only on the soundtrack: Julee Cruise’s band are the houseband at the Roadhouse and their performances are incorporated into the story: it adds another layer of strangeness to the show that this avant garde, ‘cool’ music is the choice of everyone, especially the high schoolers, as opposed to something more representative of the time.

But Twin Peaks is about strangeness. beneath a surface veneer of normality, and so is its music. The CD evokes the television show, but is a presence in its own right. When I listen, I think of Twin Peaks, but not of any specific scenes. The music exists on its own, not merely as a background, or an influence, to words and actions.

There are three vocal tracks from Jule Cruise on the CD, the perfect balance to the intstrumental tracks, and each feature the wispy, not-quite-falsetto voice of ‘Falling’. All lyrics are by Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch. The CD sets its own mood and every now and then I go under its power.

4 thoughts on “The Ones I Rarely Play: Angelo Badalementi – “Soundtrack from Twin Peaks”

      1. Whereas I only have this by Badalamenti. With the eception of The Prisoner, this is the best, and most musically superb theme music I’ve ever heard.

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