Music has always been an integral atmospheric element to the films of David Lynch. But when the acclaimed director set his sights on the small screen for two surreal seasons of “Twin Peaks” beginning in 1990, the role of the soundtrack was magnified. Geared largely around compositions by Angelo Badalamenti, the music of “Twin Peaks” became a mixture of hipster groove and synthesized doom.
The recently completed third season of the series, which came to us 27 years after the first two, was stranger, moodier and, overall, more Lynch-ian. So are two new albums of music tied to the reboot: “Twin Peaks: Limited Event Series Original Soundtrack” and “Twin Peaks: Music from the Limited Event Series.”
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The former is essentially a score, complete with echoes of the eerie cool that distinguished the ’90s shows before establishing several darker and more ambient new pieces from Badalamenti. Among them, the Eno-esque “Dark Mood Woods/The Red Room,” “The Chair” and the concluding “Dark Space Low” appear like fog in layers of electronic humming.
The resulting soundscape is interrupted severely at the midway point, just as the third season was, by a strident nine minutes of Witold Rowicki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.” As performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra Warsaw, the interlude is a total sonic assault that befits the season’s eighth episode montage of atomic age imagery and Stanley Kubrick-level abstraction, taking us light-years from the disquieting Washington town of Twin Peaks.
The accompanying “Twin Peaks: Music from the Limited Event Series” is a sampler of songs, many with a sense of detached stoicism that often (but not always) was staged in Twin Peaks’ prime den of inequity, The Roadhouse, and were used at the conclusion of most episodes.
Though the songs create a very different mood piece, there is considerable variance here. Chromatics’ “Shadow,” for instance, embodies the icy but emotive despondency initiated in the original series by Julee Cruse, who returns to close the new album. But The Cactus Blossoms opt for a vintage pop feel that’s a dead ringer for the Everly Brothers. Want more? Then dig into six raging minutes of Nine Inch Nails on “She’s Gone Away,” a pensive solo acoustic confession by Eddie Vedder in “Out of Sand” and, way outside of The Roadhouse, a slow, exhaustive update of “Viva Las Vegas” from Shawn Colvin.
The records purposely remove us from what made “Twin Peaks” so arresting, but both use the show’s origins as a starting point. Each begins with a version of Badalamenti’s familiar theme song for the series, a lush mix of synthesized orchestration and distant guitar twang. Curiously, the versions offer pretty much the only sustained moments of warmth during the records’ unyielding road to Lynch-ian darkness and rediscovery.