I finally finished watching Twin Peaks recently and something’s been on my mind ever since the final episode. It didn’t really occur to me how familiar the Black Lodge’s decor felt until I probed my memory banks and then, EUREKA! The Persona series!
The design of the Velvet Room in the early titles feels eerily similar. Here’s a comparison of the Black Lodge and the Velvet Room featured in the original Persona:
Both locations feature a striking design consisting of velvet drapes with a contrasting patterned floor. However, the similarities run a bit deeper than just the decor. Both rooms are occupied by peculiar hosts (Igor and the dwarf) and their beautiful assistants (Margaret and Laura Palmer).
After doing some research, it appears that ATLUS has confirmed this theory.
Upon further reflection, the similitude extends to the audio, as well. One of the integral elements of Twin Peaks is the heavy use of music. It can often be heard during important conversations to heighten the tension or evoke deep emotion, whereas other directors might mute the soundtrack to keep the audience focused on the conversation. However, Angelo Balamenti’s score is crucial in creating Twin Peaks’ atmosphere. Here’s an excerpt from the Twin Peaks Wikipedia page describing the music:
In fall 1989, composer Angelo Badalamenti and Lynch created the score for the show. In 20 minutes they produced the signature theme for the series. Badalamenti called it the “Love Theme From Twin Peaks.” Lynch told him, “You just wrote 75% of the score. It’s the mood of the whole piece. It is Twin Peaks”. While creating the score, Lynch often described the moods or emotions he wanted the music to evoke, and Badalamenti began to play the piano. In the scenes dominated by young men, they are accompanied by music that Badalamenti called Cool Jazz. The characters’ masculinity was enhanced by finger-snapping, “cocktail-lounge electric piano, pulsing bass, and lightly brushed percussion.”
The jazzy “cocktail-lounge” theme is one of the things I found to be initially jarring because of how it didn’t quite fit with the haunting, somber tones of the rest of the soundtrack. The theme can immediately change the mood of the setting, regardless of the juxtapositioning of the scenes.
I feel the same way regarding Shoji Meguro’s score in P3 and P4. He derives a lot of influence from jazz to create his fusion J-pop soundtrack specifically for the series. Just like Badalamenti’s theme, some of Meguro’s tracks sound totally out of place in the grand scheme of things, but they work and provide tonal diversity. It makes you wonder if Badalementi’s score influenced Meguro’s choice of the fusion J-pop soundscape for the series.
After realizing these similarities, I wondered if the internet had any other hypotheses or evidence to support my claim. I stumbled upon Katers Gonna Kate’s tumblr and found some interesting comparisons between P4 and Twin Peaks that I hadn’t thought of yet.
The Twin Peaks/Persona parallels are really at their best in P4:
- Handsome sharply-dressed newcomer comes into a small town from the big city, proceeds to become wrapped up in murder investigation
- flips the usual tropes on their head by charming these cynical small-town folk with his kooky idealism and his enthusiasm everything
- newcomer soon finds out that supernatural goings-on are happening in small town, gathers group of colourful quirky locals that quickly become his dearest friends and help in his investigation
- inn-keeper’s quirky daughter falls for him instantly
- everyone in small town has SECRETS
- he has dreams/visions about a room with a strange-looking man full of cryptic words and a mysterious beautiful blonde woman who gives him nuggets of information.
Those are some pretty heavy influences, though Twin Peaks’ impact on pop culture has been quite visible through the 25 years since its creation. However, all these similarities do make me wish for a confirmation from ATLUS regarding the extent of its influences (if only just to put my mind at rest).
What do you guys think? Coincidence? Or a deliberate homage?