Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday morning tunes: Now it's dark

So I was listening to Julee Cruise singing "Into the Night" from the "Twin Peaks" soundtrack album earlier this week. It's a quiet, breathy song, but at about the 3:25 mark there's a very jarring break -- a softly rising cymbal sizzle followed suddenly by six staccato notes, increasing in pitch and volume as they come at you in a tense and definitely unresolved broken chord.

It sounds like horns, strings, and percussion, though it's probably synthesized. It's over in three or four seconds, the last note seems to echo for a fraction of a second, then there's a moment or two of silence. Then Cruise picks up the song again for a repeat-fade out. That's it.

And it makes an otherwise-haunting song suddenly creepy as hell.

(So does one other thing: At the beginning, Cruise whispers "Now it's dark." That was the nightmarish Frank Booth's line from "Blue Velvet," but you'd have to know the inside joke to appreciate that one: David Lynch, composer Angelo Badalamenti, and Cruise collaborated on "Blue Velvet" before "Twin Peaks.")

I've wondered for years what that break was doing there. All that, just to give me the willies? I was pretty sure it didn't have a connection to anything happening on-screen when Cruise, as the roadhouse chanteuse, performed the song in an episode of TP. So I did some digging and found the video, with a bit of remix work, directed by Lynch (no surprise there; look at the video's thumbnail), released at around the time of the album.

Four of those six staccato notes remain. And then -- well, it's striking to remember I originally thought the album track version was creepy.
Remember: Listen for the brushed cymbal at about 3:25.

(If you're reading this in FB Notes, you'll probably need to click View Original Post to see the video. )

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