Michael WHALEN Titanic:
Anatomy of a
Disaster Soundtrack of the Discovery Channel
Performed entirely by the composer ("synclavier, synthesizers, ewi, piano,
percussion and programming," to cite the production notes), Michael Whalen's
"Titanic: Anatomy of a Disaster" sounds like a modern adventure in the Atlantic,
despite underscoring a documentary on the science and history of resolving
a then 85-year-old mystery.
The synthesized orchestra and other musical effects are by
turns aggressive and euphonious. The 'orchestrations' are august, the themes
are basic and contemporary -- perfectly serviceable, but the contexts, rather
than the statements, provide the interest. To achieve greater melodic depth
it deserves the benefit of counterpoint. Motivic dynamics are almost required
when dealing with issues of past and present as they suggest monumental things.
Whalen's straightforward approach instead overextends itself at 51-and-a-half
minutes... I become irritated about halfway through, but I cannot say exactly
whether it is due to an overall lack of variety or simply because of the
vertiginous synthesized patches. I suspect the latter is most liable.
One item that sticks out is the score's sense of place. It
sounds nautical. It *sounds* like the Atlantic. Social conditioning obviously
comes into effect, but how Whalen tapped into the phenomenon as deeply as
he did is gratifying and auspicious. The album is not much but is sufficient,
and the music within is generally better than a few higher-paid composers