Synth version of Twin Peaks soundtrack shouldn’t work but does incredibly well
Something’s should be covered. They are originally perfect, so why mess with them? When I read that a label from Austin was going to put a 1980’s synth version of the Twin Peaks soundtrack, I was dubious. The whole reason why the original Twin Peaks soundtrack worked was because it matched the screen perfectly. One of Twin Peaks’ elements of genius was that everything was slightly off kilter and had its own timing, like good jazz. If you remove that organic feel, and replace it with stark digital instruments, you’ve lost the whole point of the piece. However when I started playing the album I realised that this wasn’t synths in a Duran Duran, Thompson Twins way, it was a Jan Hammer, John Carpenter 1980’s synths.
Opening track Twin Peaks Theme, sounds very close to the original, at time too close to the original that is feels like a remix rather than a cover. However the next track Who Ha’s take on Laura’s Theme is a total re-imagining of the original. There is an underlying broodiness that the original only hints at. At a minute in the track starts to throb and get the Vangelis treatment. Audrey’s Dance is one of the standout tracks. They use the original riff as guideline and add vocal samples, sax and synth solo’s to create something totally new. Freshly Squeezed is another track that plays with the original’s composition. The whole thing takes on a glitchy jazz vibe, think Digitonal doing jazz and you’re on the right vibe.
The standout track however is Transcend’s Night Life in Twin Peaks. This is one of the most emotive and evocative tracks on the original album. What Transcend have effectively done is update the moody jazz, with drum and bass with a dreamlike soundscape behind it. As Twin Peaks is coming back, this track would easily fit in with its modern setting.
There are downsides to the track however though. That tracks that involve vocals sound a bit flat. Julee Cruise has such a distinctive voice and style that the tracks sound odd without her on them. Lucy Black does a good job on Into the Night and Falling, but ultimately they feel a little flat. Luckily, however there are more positives on this album than negatives. What Retro Promenade have successfully done is re-imagine a classic album, whilst never losing the essence that made it classic in the first place.
If you are a Twin Peaks fan, you need this album. If you are into Jan Hammer, Vangelis and John Carpenter’s scores, you need this album. It you are into novelty/cover albums, you need this album. This is some dam fine synths!