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Angelo Badalamenti: Absolute Sound and Vision

Sean Beardmore pays tribute to the late iconic ‘Twin Peaks’ composer.

It’s been a sad month in music, as we lose one of the finest film composers.

Angelo Badalamenti was 85 years old, and we are reminded that he would create one of the finest TV soundtracks of all time in the Soundtrack of Twin Peaks – a 49-minute dream pop masterpiece. It was here where his collaboration with David Lynch would forever change how television programming could look and sound.

It’s no doubt the finest body of work he’d ever create from Laura Palmer’s Theme, Audrey’s Dance, the Twin Peaks Theme itself (in which he’d win a Grammy for) to Dance of the Dream Man and so on. It also didn’t hurt that the 1990s quirky phenomenon of the television show took off instantly, and as of today a program that continues to permeate through popular culture with annual re-watches, new generations of fans and even another season decades later.

I’ll get to the point, though: media isn’t a one-way street. It generally takes many individuals to pierce the cultural curtain. Lynch, already considered one of the finest American auteurs currently working, had not only five films under his belt but albeit one Palme d’Or for his 1990 Nicholas Cage starrer, Wild at Heart, as well but it was his 1986 release, Blue Velvet, where the lighting got all up inside that bottle.

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Story goes, Lynch wanted the music of the Cocteau Twins to anchor the film, however with financial constraints, a guy who used to go by the name Andy Badale (a former name used by Angelo) was drafted in to help in the music department, not only assisting actress Isabella Rossellini in belting out the phenomenal Bobby Vinton track Blue Velvet, but also the co-writing with Lynch, the track Mysteries of Love, led by voice of an angel Julee Cruise who went on to reach another level of success with the Twin Peaks track Falling.

David Lynch not only fell for Angelo, but at that moment found his new music collaborator who would go onto to score all his work up until Mulholland Drive.

Badalamenti had been at it from an early age, getting into arranging for known singers such as Nancy Wilson and Nina Simone, to getting involved in film scoring with 1973’s Gordon’s War and 1974’s Law and Disorder. After initially working with Lynch, Badalamenti would see an instant boost in his career going on to work with many more film auteurs with the likes of Joel Schumacher, Danny Boyle, Jean Pierre-Jeunet, Jane Campion and Paul Schrader with instantly recognisable delicate mood pieces, combining gloomy slow keys, with jazzy brass sections. From piano lessons at the tender age of eight years old, to the song that he claimed would be the bedrock of all that he would accomplish in Irving Berlin’s 1923 track What I’ll do.

Angelo Badalamenti firmly solidified himself as one of the most unique composers of the twentieth century in one of the most important creative partnerships of our times. Absolute sound and vision.

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