Soundtracks on Vinyl: Two for Twin Peaks - The Return (2017) - Reviewed

After the second episode of the series premiere of Mark Frost and David Lynch’s revival series Twin Peaks: The Return with The Chromatics playing Shadow at the now famed Roadhouse, it became clear this fast and loose third season of everyone’s beloved town of damn fine coffee and the best cherry pie in the world would be as eclectic of a listening experience as viewing.  Unlike the original series which largely culminated with Julee Cruise crooning Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti’s sorrowful lyrics bathed in light against red curtains, this new iteration of Twin Peaks instead sported a wide variety of guest artists, longtime Lynch collaborators and even key characters of the show singing their hearts out. 

Including but not limited to the aforementioned Chromatics, The Cactus Blossoms, Au Revoir Simone, Blunted Beatz, The Paris Sisters, Nine Inch Nails, ZZ Top, Eddie Vedder and even Booker T. and the MG’s, the inspired variety of artists lined up would transform the Roadhouse into a kind of tourist attraction with an even wider range of music than on any other David Lynch property than ever before.  Further still, Lynch even included specific tracks for comic timing, notably trolling the fanbase with James Marshall’s effeminate Just You as an offbeat joke, utilizing Dave Brubeck’s Time Out for exceptional sketch comedy and goofing on how much everyone loves ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man

Twin Peaks of course wouldn’t be a proper return without the man who made the theme music for the show’s original iteration so iconic and unforgettable: Angelo Badalamenti.  Reusing the composer’s original tracks from the first two seasons as well as remixing tracks from the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Badalamenti also served up a hefty amount of entirely new compositions that are unmistakably of the world of Twin Peaks while clearly being completely new. 

Of the new compositions, my personal favorite is The Fireman which can’t help but take me back into some of the greatest moments of the now legendary eighth episode of the show which could be among the best pieces of film Lynch has ever directed.  And last but not least, as with Wild at Heart and Inland Empire, Lynch indulges in his favorite avant-garde Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki’s terrifying Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima as performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra.  If there’s ever a piece of music to strike stark terror in the hearts and minds of listeners, it is most certainly this one.

With the now celebrated David Lynch and Mark Frost penned and directed limited event series Twin Peaks: The Return having wrapped recently followed by a formal blu-ray announcement slated for December 5th, 2017, Rhino Records have released two separate vinyl soundtrack albums encompassing the show’s eighteen hour running time.  Divided by the kind of music being utilized, one entitled Music from the Limited Event Series with the neon red lit sign for the Bang-Bang Bar encompasses the preexisting tracks and guest performers while the other entitled Limited Event Series Original Soundtrack with the classic ghostly image of Laura Palmer’s face over the woods make up the instrumental Angelo Badalamenti tracks as well as the bone chilling Penderecki composition. 

Each album comes housed with two vinyls (some pressings in limited color vinyl) with a gatefold and exclusive cover, with the album of preexisting tracks adorned with photos of the bands touring the roadhouse and the original soundtrack album sporting the now famous image of Laura Palmer’s face inside a glowing translucent gold orb.  While separate releases, these two albums are clearly intended to be listened to together while divided by the kind of compositions included on each disc.  There's close to two hours in music combined and both should give listeners a multifaceted sonic experience both radically new and bearing nostalgic familiarity.

If there is a complaint to make it’s that the albums don’t include absolutely everything heard on the show.  Granted no soundtrack album ever truly includes everything but I was a tad dismayed Au Revoir Simone’s A Violent Yet Flammable World didn’t make the soundtrack as I listened to it far more than Lark.  Also curiously missing is the truly unsettling track heard when those pesky Woodsmen show up and smear blood all over Evil Cooper, another standout for the eighth episode.  Despite missing a few things, for Lynch fans these should provide an otherwise fantastic listening experience which will no doubt take viewers back into all the highs and lows, good and bad, wonderment and horrors of arguably the best television show of the last decade!

- Andrew Kotwicki