The Red Room & The White Room

Are there connections between The KLF's 'White Room' and David Lynch's 'Red Room' from Twin Peaks? Both are unreal places which represent a certain state of mind, but are there any, more concrete, links between the two?

Richard Murkin (@richmurkin on Twitter - go follow!) has pointed out the musical similarities between the track Build A Fire on The White Room album - specifically, the bit from 1:02 to 1:11...

...and Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks Theme:

The White Room album was released in 1991 and Twin Peaks debuted in 1990, so could there be a deliberate, conscious link between the two? Or to put it another, did The KLF, who openly stole from many, many records, help themselves to the Twin Peaks Theme as well?

It seems not - true, Build A Fire (and it bloody would be Build A Fire, wouldn't it?) was released in 1991, but it dates back to 1989. It first appeared on the original, unreleased version of The White Room - the soundtrack to The KLF's unfinished road movie. So The KLF version predates the Twin Peaks theme and, as it was unreleased when Antonio Badalementi was scoring Twin Peaks, it seems unlikely that he could have been inspired by them.

It's all just one of them wild coincidences, in other words. You know the ones.

Those who have read my KLF book may remember that I refer to David Lynch's creative process (which he writes about in this book here) and compare it to Jung's Collective Unconscious and Alan Moore's Ideaspace. All these are models which allow a number of artists to stumble upon the same idea at the same time. In light of this, I find this interview with Badalamenti fascinating - he demonstrates how he and Lynch almost pulled the Twin Peaks music, fully formed, out of thin air.

(That video - which I highly recommend you go back and watch, if you skipped past it - is an excerpt from the extras of the complete DVD set. The full version also includes Badalamenti's anecdote about how The Queen snubbed Paul McCartney in order to watch Twin Peaks.)

So a musical motif which Badalamenti and Lynch uncovered for a series underpinned by the idea of the Red Room matched one from The White Room. Both stories are centred on fire, which is highly significant for both the KLF and Twin Peaks ("Fire walk with me"). They both include an otherworldly figure named Bob. Agent Dale Cooper seemed destined to remain in the Red Room for 25 years, while The KLF have vowed not to discuss their money burning for 23 years. Twin Peaks features a Black Lodge and a White Lodge (with the Red Room being linked to the Black Lodge), and this nicely echoes the KLF's Black Room and White Room.

All in all it's a nice example of how Alan Moore's Ideaspace can be seen at play in the world at large, how the synchronicities keep coming, and of how much fun utter coincidences can be. It might be worth noting that @richmurkin, who alerted me to this on Twitter, has a large scary rabbit avatar.

In 1992, incidentally, The KLF began (and abandoned) and album called The Black Room, whilst The Orb - who originally included Jimmy Cauty - released the forty minute long Blue Room, which has been called "the last truly original thing to ever appear on Top of the Pops." Clearly if coloured rooms are your thing, the early 90s was the place to be.

The owls, incidentally, are still not what they seem.

(***UPDATE*** It seems there may have been a window of a few months when The KLF could have been 'inspired' by Twin Peaks - see comments for details...)


  1. The original demo version of 'Build a Fire' had a very different production:


    1. True that. The edit of the film itself which is floating around includes a version that echoes the Twin Peaks theme, though. It's hard to pinpoint the dates of these things exactly, but if you factor in that Twin Peaks aired later in the UK than the US, it seems unlikely that there was conscious influence.

      I hadn't actually heard that version before BTW, or not for a long time anyway. Thanks for that!

  2. I think that edit had a soundtrack added later - when I first saw it in the 90s, I'm sure it didn't have anything from the final White Room album on there.

    This is what I think the mundane sequence of events could have been... they made the original film and recorded the demos for the soundtrack. Twin Peaks was first broadcast in the UK in October 1990 and they incorporated the ambience in the rejigged version of the White Room album that they were working on at the time. It was released in March 1991 complete with a better version of Build A Fire.

    But that only explains the *music* side of things! The rest is more interesting.

  3. Ah, that is interesting, that does change things. If that soundtrack is later then you're right, that does open up a small window when they could have been 'inspired' by Twin Peaks. Which is interesting because the first episode is the one that includes the major 'Red Room' sequence in that first series, and while I don't think that it was referred to by that name, the general ambience of the place may well have sunk in.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    (Someone may be able to correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I don't think the feature-length version of the first episode, which was made for European TV and had a lot more 'fire' stuff at the end, was the one that was broadcast in the UK. I *think* we got the normal series over here..?)


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