Twin Peaks might be the perfect synthesis of popular art we’ve ever seen. From the story, to the visuals, to the music, it was the ideal of what art could be on television. Appealing to a broader audience, while still keeping it weird.
When it was announced that Death Waltz Records was remastering and reissuing Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks – Original Score, excitement in the fan community was palpable. Long forgotten in the Warner Bros. archive, with fans thirsty for anything Twin Peaks and the emerging interest in soundtracks and scores on vinyl, a release by a respected label like Death Waltz was universally embraced.
Death Waltz founder and manager, Spencer Hickman explains that at the time, getting the ability to do the re-release was surprisingly easy.
“Weirdly, at the time, when we acquired the permission to reissue Twin Peaks there was only Death Waltz and Mondo doing this kind of thing. Now there’s a huge amount of labels doing similar things to us but at the time there wasn’t,” said Hickman. “It was one of those odd things where I couldn’t believe somebody hadn’t asked for it or it wasn’t in Warner’s own schedule to re-issue. It just kind of blew my mind that it wasn’t already snapped up.”
“I literally just asked because I had a contact and really good friend, Billy Fields, who’s Warner’s vinyl master and I just said ‘I’d love to re-issue Twin Peaks’ and he was like ‘OK, let me put you in touch.’ And weirdly that was the simplest part because it’s been delayed and delayed and delayed through no one’s fault. Sometimes these things happen.”
Ah, the delays. Fans waited. And waited. And waited. The promised release date of 2014 came and went and the internet grumbled, giving up hope. Sure, vinyl releases are delayed for all kinds of reasons, but fans don’t care. Without reasons and explanations, fans wondered if it would ever happen at all.
“Because this record in particular has been so hard to put out, it’s taken three years because we originally said it was going to be released in 2014, sometimes you lose sight of things,” said Hickman. “As much as I am a fan, this is my job and when things get delayed it can become frustrating. When it’s done, like the day we put it into production, that’s cool. And then it lands and you’re like ‘oh man’. Then the reaction the records got it just makes you fall in love with it all over again.”
“Interestingly it’s a better release for me now that we’ve joined with Mondo. Because we didn’t have a die cut sleeve until Jay Shaw (Mondo’s Brand Director) said ‘oh man we should do this’. I actually think the release has benefited from the delays. If it had come out in 2014, we wouldn’t have sleeve notes from Angelo (Badalamenti), we wouldn’t have had test pressings approved by Angelo. So it’s been beneficial for this, although it’s also very incredibly frustrating. And I do understand people were upset it’s taken so long, which is why we decided to make one edition and make it affordable. It’s kind of like a thank you for waiting.”
So after this long wait, how is it?
It’s stunning. It’s absolutely stunning.
“Obviously David has been incredible. We’ve been getting artwork signed off by him because he has to approve it personally,” Hickman said.
“When you get that that email that says ‘Spencer, Mr. Lynch approves’, you’re like ‘yeeeessss’. It’s really interesting because we sent three or four different die cut ideas (to Lynch) and I said in my email that I think the third one works best for the cover. The email came back and it was like ‘David thinks so as well’ and we were like ‘yeeeeeeeaaaahhhh!’. You know that’s like when you turn into the little fanboy again. I’m very lucky that this is my job. It’s very cool.”
The time honestly paid off for this release because every ounce of work and love shows. There’s an intangible “thing” to the release that just feels top notch. The sound? Just a little clearer and more crisp. The packaging? Feels a bit heavier and well-constructed. I’ve seen really high quality records, but this one just feels different. Like Mondo and Death Waltz knew the stakes were high and wanted to do everyone right with the release.
And man, that sound. I dare you to put on the “Twin Peaks Theme” and not be immediately transported to the swaggering cool of the show.
When I got my record, it was an overcast day in Cleveland and rain clouds were rolling it. The minute I put the needle to the groove, I felt like I was right there in the Pacific Northwest.
“Warner went directly to their archives and their guy in the audio archive, Tal Miller, remastered from the original tapes for us,” Hickman said. “He didn’t change the sequencing because the track listing is the track listing, but swapped a track from side one to side two so it could sound better. When Fire Walk with Me originally came out on vinyl it was a single record but it has 52 minutes of music, so it sounds pretty horrible to be honest. No disrespect, but it sounds very thin and not very powerful. So we had that re-cut for a double record and it sounds absolutely phenomenal. Obviously I listened to the test pressings last year and we sent it to Angelo and David, and everyone was happy. But to sit and listen to the finished record I was like ‘This sounds fucking great man’.”
“Dave Cheppa cut the laquers (for Twin Peaks – Original Score) for us and he’s a fairly legendary lacquer cutter and he told me how honored he was to do this. I feel really lucky. I’m really proud of everything we’ve put out but Twin Peaks has taken up so much time that it’s great when you get that finished package and it looks and sounds great. And the majority of people online seem to really like it as well and you’re like ‘alright cool we’ve done a good job on this’.”
Overall, this is a classic piece of music that any fan of Twin Peaks, or just a fan of great movie/television soundtracks, should own.
Plain and simple. Death Waltz and Mondo have committed to doing a big run of this release and if you want it, you should be able to get it. That’s super cool and worth your money.
Just talking to Hickman, I could tell how proud he was of this release and the love that he put into it.
He shared with me the little hidden tribute they put in the runout groove (which you’ll have to find and check out) and it shows he’s truly a fan of the work and wanted to get this right.
I would say he did.
“Obviously the show was huge and has grown in stature over the years but Angelo’s music is iconic,” Hickman said. I was just talking to Mo (Shafeek, Mondo’s Record Label Production Manager) yesterday and we were talking about how it’s incredible because it’s really concise, it’s not like 52 tracks, it’s the most amazing selection of music from that show sequenced beautifully,” Hickman said. “For me it’s one of the greatest pieces of music for film or television that I have ever heard. It gives me shivers when I listen to it. This for me, nothing comes close to it.”
“As a standalone piece, take it away from the show for a minute, the music itself is beautiful but sinister in its own way. There are some odd pieces of music in there as well. It’s an easy listen, but it’s still unsettling. It’s hard to explain, but you put that record on and when it starts, it takes you to a different place. Whether that’s Twin Peaks and you remember that or you’re just reading a book, the actually music transports you away from your speakers.”
A writerly writer guy who writes about music, basketball and writing. He now writes here, but has written other places too. He also writes for a big fancy company as his 9-5. Writing, writing, writing. If you want to read his basketball writing (or listen to his podcasting, which isn’t writing but you know).