When Angelo Badalamenti won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Ghent Film Festival World Soundtrack Awards in Belgium, I could have cared less. Sure, his theme for TWIN PEAKS was a minor classic, but that was “just” TV music. How much had he truly contributed to film music?
Sometimes my ignorance and arrogance know no bounds.
According to the newly released FOR THE RECORD – ANGELO BADALAMENTI, Mr. Badalamenti has enriched the world of film music for over 20 years, just not my narrow, myopic view of it. This is the third CD in the Ghent Film Festival’s For the Record film music series, following entries for Craig Armstrong and Mychael Danna. The 2-CD compilation features 20 tracks of cues and suites from the past 23 years of Badalamenti’s career performed by the Brussels Philharmonic conducted by Dirk Brossé. (A complete track listing can be found at the end of this review.)
As the musical voice of David Lynch’s films, seven tracks are dedicated to music that is integrally intertwined with Lynch’s cinematic vision. Of course, there are the memorable themes and the recognizable bass guitar of TWIN PEAKS. But offsetting the typically dark harmonies of BLUE VELVET and MULHOLLAND DRIVE is the simple acoustic guitar-based “Rose’s Theme” from 1999’s THE STRAIGHT STORY.
Click Track: Rose’s Theme
Badalamenti began his career writing songs and his haunting music complements the lyrics and vocals included in this compilation. A major discovery from the set was the suite from 1995’s THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (La Cité des Enfants Perdu) with its creepy accordion waltz, followed by Marianne Faithfull’s weathered, poignant vocals on “Who Will Take My Dreams Away?”
Who Will Take My Dreams Away
Click Track: “Who Will Take My Dreams Away?”
The compilation also features a suite of music Badalamenti composed for the Inside the Actors Studio TV series, as well as the “Torch Theme” written for the opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Many fans will agree with Badalamenti’s statement in the liner notes that TWIN PEAKS “defines the Angelo Badalamenti sound. That’s a snapshot of me, and I love it.” But for me, the standout track–the music that gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes–is the ravishing love theme from 1989’s COUSINS, starring Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini.
Love Theme (COUSINS)
Click Track: Love Theme (COUSINS)
Brossé and the Brussels Philharmonic perform Badalamenti’s music as if they’re making love to it. And who can blame them? Brossé certainly knows his way around a film score and the orchestra displays a feel for this type of music that is rare in concert organizations. Bravo on the performance front!
If you’re already a Badalamaneti fan, you probably own most, if not all, of the original soundtrack recordings. But for those of you like me who are senselessly late to the game, FOR THE RECORD serves as a remarkable introduction to a remarkable composer. You can order the CD directly from the Flanders International Film Festival-Ghent website. Not only will you get 90 minutes of exquisite film music, all the proceeds benefit UNICEF.
This is easily one of the best film music albums of the year. “For the record,” I was an idiot. Mea culpa. If I were a religious man, I’d say a thousand hail Mary‘s in penance for my arrogance and thanks that I saw the light before it was too late. Like a good novitiate, I now lie prostrate at the feet of Badalamenti’s music.
Join me, won’t you?