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The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy

  • Jun 25, 2011
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His sixth collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti is also David Lynch's most involved, as the most formal of all surrealist filmmakers wrote much of its music and all of its lyrics, even contributing percussion to a couple of tracks. Still, most of this score is unmistakably of Badalamenti's mode, and his unique blend of light jazz and synth pads was never so prominent in any of his projects before or since.

Distinguished by its mellow, melancholy trumpet lead, a morose opening theme establishes the score's foreboding, downbeat tone. In contrast, follow-up track The Pine Float is snappy and up-tempo, cleverly incorporating passages from both the aforementioned theme and the TV series' iconic Dance of the Dream Man. Though bound to induce finger snapping, it's barely featured in the film's soundtrack! The same can be said of haunting Sycamore Trees, sung by Jimmy Scott in his trademark contralto. Onscreen, this song was premiered in the Twin Peaks series finale; for whatever reason, it's included here rather than on the second-season album. Perhaps it was utilized more extensively sometime in nearly three hours of footage that Lynch regretfully discarded to produce the theatrical cut of Fire Walk With Me, in which only a fragment of it (omitting Scott's vocals) is heard. Although the lightweight, mellow Don't Do Anything (I Wouldn't Do) is easy on the ears, its presence in the movie's soundtrack is just as fleeting. I can't help but wonder if this album was assembled prior to Lynch's post-production schedule.

While Badalamenti's crazed, spoken-word babble in A Real Indication is a hilarious complement to Dana Ashbrook's frenzied euphoria in a brief scene, it's a whit too silly when removed from its filmic context. The same might be said of The Black Dog Runs at Night, for which Badalamenti voices the titular lyric repeatedly and generates some synthesized and pianistic clatter to counterbalance Lynch's offbeat bass percussion. However, these portions are great for those seeking to bemuse their dinner guests.

Julee Cruise's vital contribution is a breathy, angelic vocal for Questions in a World of Blue, perhaps the most beautiful song that Badalamenti and Lynch wrote for her. No one else could voice this gentle expression of longing and lost love with such heartfelt frailty.

For me, the selling point of this album is The Pink Room, composed by Lynch to underscore the apocalyptic filth of his picture's degenerate Canadian PARTYLAND truck stop. Propelled by a slow, chugging beat, cemented with a steady bass riff and punctuated by shrill blasts of cacophonous guitar noise, this is something to which the most dissolute can party and fuck. Only four minutes in length, it's also a fifth as long as it ought be; the hypnotic effect that this track imparts waxes palpably approximately a minute before it ends.

Co-written by Lynch and David Slusser, Best Friends is a simple, appealing tune obviously intended for any given scene in which Laura Palmer and Donna Hayward exchange angsty gossip - again, it's heard only momentarily in the soundtrack. Lofted by meandering vibraphone, tinkling piano variations and light percussion, Moving Through Time hangs unfolding in the air like a multitude of ambiguous questions, tethered by the weight of a steady acoustic bass and erratic, curiously inquisitive cello. Equally substantial, Badalamenti's Twin Peaks pastiche cunningly segues some of the series' most recognizable themes - Girl Talk, Birds in Hell, Laura Palmer's Theme, Falling - all of which are arranged for maximum effect. I'd have preferred the entirety of Falling as a separate track, as it's featured in its entirety in Fire Walk With Me, but its inclusion in the first-season album likely precluded this possibility.

Composed for the film's denouement, the heart-rending The Voice of Love is a bare, synthesized progression of beautiful melodies and simple harmonics that represents the joyful redemption of a wayward, tortured soul, prematurely remanded to her strange and terrible afterlife.

At his very best, Badalamenti creates music that's felt so much as heard. Only he can compose music so befitting Lynch's themes of lost innocence and defiled beauty. Like all of his most substantial scores, this is accessible, yet never obvious - even his loveliest passages possess a certain elusive quality, and Lynch's lyrics are indecipherable to the uninitiated.

Also recommended as an aural accompaniment to: passionate cuddling; filthy, loveless sex; laundry chores; hallucinogenic experiences; aimless telephone conversations; rural wandering; funerals.

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Robert Buchanan ()
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I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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The music for Fire Walk with Me, David Lynch's brooding feature film follow-up to the groundbreaking TV series Twin Peaks, again uses the talents of Angelo Badalamenti to create a chilling backdrop to Lynch's dark psychosexual thriller. Film noir is once again the touchstone for this perfectly pitched score, and these 10 tracks stand repeated listening in their own right. This is in part due to the use of some top notch jazz players such as Buster Williams, Grady Tate, and Vinnie Bell, as well as vocalist Jimmy Scott's haunting delivery on "Sycamore Trees." Sax, vibes, upright bass, and percussion set a smoky atmosphere, and the eerie synthesizer and string arrangements augment the general spine-tingling melancholy and menace. Singer Julee Cruise also appears, lending angelic repression to "Questions in a World of Blue"; Lynch contributes compositions and percussion throughout this exercise in bleakness and love gone awry.--Derek Rath
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Label: Warner Bros, Wea
Genre: Soundtrack
Release Date: August 11, 1992
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