Let's talk about the new sound of Twin Peaks. More than halfway through Twin Peaks: The Return, it's clear David Lynch and Mark Frost had no interest in simply retreading the best pieces of the original series. The new season's approach is a clear defiance to today's model of remakes and franchise-building, with the story simply not being told the same way. As with the original run, this new series is testing viewers to see how far they will go.
It's been known from the beginning that a lot of contemporary bands would be part of the show's musical landscape, and they're seen performing in true Lynchian style at the Twin Peaks roadhouse. Composer Angelo Badalamenti was also billed as returing, and many assumed that this meant along with many of Badalamenti's familiar themes returning there would be new music.
As with all of Lynch's work, music defined Twin Peaks. His work always incorporates a mix of original score, expressive sound design, and musical catalogs of diverse time periods. Being able to understand the blending of '50s bebop with industrial, modern classical, and jazz has always allowed Lynch to create space for an audience to experience an otherworldly setting.
For the original iteration of the show, Badalamenti filled the environment with music that transcended a specific time and place. Blending elements of jazz, classical, and ambient music to create a modern nostalgia aesthetic bending to the otherworldly, the composer positioned Twin Peaks in a surreally suspended space and time.
With The Return the original theme has been intact from the beginning, and a few pieces from the original run have made their way in, but altogether there's much less score than in the show's original run. As noted by the website Welcome Back to Twin Peaks, "apart from the hard to distinguish "Frank 2000" track made with David Lynch under their Thought Gang moniker, there hasn't been any fresh material from the Brooklyn-born Maestro." This changed in episode six when a new three-minute composition by Badalamenti appeared over one of the show's most horrific sequences yet.
This absence changes the show, and it reflects Lynch's increasing sophistication as a sound designer. This has led to a curious cultural moment: one where shows like the recent American Gods demonstrate great reverence for the ground Twin Peaks forged and pay their respects to its musical lineage, whereas the new Twin Peaks has largely divorced itself from that method of using music.
As with the first iteration, Twin Peaks: The Return is charting new territory; it's one of television's most challenging series ever to air. A soundtrack to the new season is forthcoming, and a new language of space and time is being developed musically as well as visually. It requires your complete attention to grasp the full experience, and in asking that of an audience, and maintaining their interest, the new season has achieved more than many had imagined.
Follow the continuously updated playlist on Spotify to stay on top of the new musical world as it unfolds: