By JackThe maven behind the legendary Italians Do It Better label has dropped an expansive collection of material intended for Twin Peaks: The Return. Expansive and cerebral, shiny and sinister, this is a fantastic near hour of music showcasing the lonely musings of Johnny Jewel.
Fans will get what they expect. Eerie synth washes and bubbling analogue bass are all there and good, from the opening Vangelis tinged ‘Requiem’ to the oceanic seizing of ‘Red Curtains’. However Themes has its fair share of suprises. The need to fit a pre-determined sound and style is clearly pushing Jewel to explore new possibilities. The dusty squawk of horns on ‘Windswept (Minimal)’, the clattering of wind chimes on ‘Loveless’, and the airy syncopated beats on ‘Lipstick’ all speak to a noirish vein of jazz.
Voices pop up here and there, lending from the Italians Do It Better stable of icy female vocalists. ‘Saturday (Evening)’, a stripped back version of that played on the show, featuring the gorgeous voice of Megan Louise, is a stand-out.
The heartbreaking melody of ‘Shadow’, which was performed by The Chromatics on the show, in the notorious Roadhouse venue, is pushed to the fore in the drumless ‘Shadow (Opening Titles)’. This is evoked again on ‘Waking Up’, and you can understand Jewel’s fondness for the melody, since it perfectly encapsulates not just his own sound, but the distant and alien beauty of the show Twin Peaks itself.
Themes For Television is what it is – a collection of soundtrack music. It’s unlikely to form part of your work-out mix or get played at many parties. It demands a close listen, and time to let the atmosphere seep into your bones. Put simply, this latest from Johnny Jewel asks a lot of the casual listener, but rewards in spades. A genuine work of art, and perfect for study, lonely walks and moonlit musings in the witching hour.