Collectively, we didn’t feel as though we had enough noteworthy “unmetal” content to fit into our typical biweekly column. I’m not one to step off the soapbox so easily, though, especially considering how many times I’ve spun the latest single from Cali experimentalists Xiu Xiu. For those of you who don’t follow my personal best-of-lists religiously, I listed Xiu Xiu’s latest album Angle Guts: Red Classroom as one of my top albums of 2014, and for good reason; everything about the project took what I love about art rock and experimental music and elevated the genres’ eccentricities to the point of sheer discomfort. It’s because of this that the band’s decision to interpret Angelo Badalamenti‘s music from cult classic show Twin Peaks for Record Store Day doesn’t surprise me in the least. To the contrary, it stoked my excitement quite a bit, especially after the band posted a reworking of the band’s iconic main theme under the name “Falling.” Head past the jump to share in my chilling excitement:
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For the sake of transparency, I want to admit that I haven’t seen the majority of Twin Peaks…meaning that I watched the pilot episode in my TV, Communication & Culture class during junior year of college and left feeling a mixture of intrigue and utter confusion. It’s an odd, jarring show from what I’ve gathered, and the release of this single has prompted me to finally sit down and watch the series (Episode 2 is currently paused in another tab). But while I pegged Xiu Xiu as the band to take on an endeavor such as this, I didn’t expect the result to simultaneously stay true to the TV show while also standing alone as a profound piece of music. One of the most persistent parts of an iconic show is its theme music, something that’s especially true for Twin Peaks. It’s uncomfortable juxtaposition of mournful and uplifting sounds recurs numerous times within the series and always seems to take on a slightly different meaning whenever it does.
As soon as Xiu Xiu’s interpretation begins, the source material is immediately clear. Yet, this isn’t meant to seem indicative of laziness; the way the band works the familiar, haunting rockabilly chords strikes with a rich ring of nostalgic warmth and swells into emotional bliss. But at the same time, it feels just different enough to feel not only unique, but distinctly modern and fresh. It’s one of those coveted musical moments that brings you back to a fond memory while pulling you forward into an invigorating future of unexplored sonics. It was a particularly bold move for frontman Jamie Stewart to sing over the composition, especially considering how polarizing his vocals tend to be. But he pulls off the feat effortlessly, soaring over the music in a comparable manner to how David Bowie did on “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” the closing opus to Blackstar. Stewart’s vocals feel in line with the the elements of Twin Peaks, and elevates the music that much more beyond the heights it already achieves on its own.
Glancing at my word count, it’s clear to me that this has quickly become one of my most anticipated release of the year. I’m not usually one to stand in line for Record Store Day, but I plan on pitching a fucking tent – figuratively and literally – and waiting as long as I need to so that I can secure a copy of this undoubtedly incredible album.
Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks will be released on Record Store Day, which falls on April 16th this year. For details on the album, click here; for a full list of RSD 2016 releases, click here.