Thursday, March 4, 2010

Album review: Alice in Wonderland OST (2010)

Danny Elfman Alice in Wonderland OSTAlice in Wonderland is a Disney 2010 fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton, written by Linda Woolverton, and stars Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen and Stephen Fry and music by Danny Elfman. The story is an extension of the Lewis Carroll classic novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are long time collaborator with past projects such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Alice in Wonderland Original Motion Picture Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records.

The album opens with ‘Alice’s Theme’. Marching beats and children choir starts the theme before complex passages come. The musical theme of Alice repeats multiple times using the choir as well as multiple instruments. The theme invokes the feeling of fear, lost, panic and distress while still being courageous and full of wander. It paints the story of Alice in Wonderland very well. There are five reprises to this theme scatter through out the album as well as the final track.

In contrast to the ‘Alice’s Theme’, ‘Little Alice’ is a short and slower piece that paints a happier times. ‘Proposal/Down the Hole’ starts slowly but soon enough the main theme is intertwined before everything become distressful and haunting. ‘Doors’ and ‘Drink Me’ have these eerie and unsettling vibes to the tunes. ‘Into the Garden’ blends after the previous tracks creating a sense of mystery with voices of bells.

‘Bandersnatched’ starts with energetic and powerful force but slows down as a much darker version of the main theme intertwines into the piece before going upbeat into a climax. ‘The Cheshire Cat’ is mysteriously playful with hints of mischievous. ‘Alice and Bayard’s Journey’ invokes the sense of despair of bleak outlook.

Well put original score that brings colours to the mystery that is Alice in Wonderland. No track was out of place, everything just blend wonderfully. Alice in Wonderland OST has acceptable to good dynamic range, no clipping and nice imaging.

Alice in Wonderland OST
by Danny Elfman
3.5 out of 5 star
Released:March 2, 2010
Label:Walt Disney Records

Track listing
01."Alice's Theme" 5:07
02."Little Alice" 1:34
03."Proposal/Down the Hole"2:58
05."Drink Me"2:48
06."Into the Garden"0:50
07."Alice Reprise #1"0:26
08."Bandersnatched" 2:42
09."Finding Absolem" 2:41
10."Alice Reprise #2"0:38
11."The Cheshire Cat" 2:07
12."Alice And Bayard's Journey" 4:04
13."Alice Reprise #3" 0:24
14."Alice Escapes" 1:07
15."The White Queen" 0:36
16."Only A Dream" 1:25
17."The Dungeon" 2:18
18."Alice Decides" 3:14
19."Alice Reprise #4" 1:01
20."Going To Battle" 2:41
21."The Final Confrontation" 1:41
22."Blood Of The Jabberwocky" 2:37
23."Alice Returns" 3:14
24."Alice Reprise #5" 2:55

Monday, March 1, 2010

Album review: Norah Jones's The Fall (2009)

Norah-Jones-The-FallThe Fall is unsettling for long times fans of Norah Jones. Her latest album starts like a complete breakaway from the directions of her first two hits albums, ‘Come Away with Me’ and ‘Feels like Home’ yet as it goes the familiars still linger.

The album opens with the lead single ‘Chasing Pirates’, this is a nice song, but the choice of the instruments used to support Norah sultry voice is odd. Use of traditional classical instruments rather than synthesizers would have been better.

Next are ‘Even Though’ and ‘Light As a Feather, now these songs are ruined by whirring strums and strange synthesisers. Both songs used the wrong sort of noise to create the ambience. The noise are not offensive but shame really because these songs would have been great without them noise. To some degree, ‘It’s Gonna Be’ suffers the same problem.

‘Young Blood’ is different story altogether, the electric sounds managed to work cohesively and musically, creating a nice upbeat song. This song is the highlight of the experimentation in this direction, very good and highly enjoyable.

Now tracks like ‘I Wouldn’t Need You’, ‘You’ve Ruined Me’ and ‘Back to Manhattan’ bring back memories of the vintage Norah Jones. ’December’ is the best track of the whole album. Jones traded the piano for the acoustic guitar for this piece and the result is just wonderful to listen. The final track, ‘Man of the Hour’ is probably the inspiration for the cover art of this album. Man’s best friend is the Man of the Hour. It even has the ‘rwoof’ at the end, nice touch.

The limited edition features an extra disc, ‘Live at The Living Room’. It contained live performance recording of ‘It’s Gonna Be’, ‘Waiting’ and ‘You’ve Ruined Me’, as well as cover of ‘Jesus Etc’, ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ and Strangers. It is a nice bonus, however, a DVD like her previous deluxe edition albums would have been preferred.

The album has acceptable dynamic range despite the use of distorted electronic instruments in the more rock-oriented tracks. Overall, hard to be disappointed with Norah Jones's The Fall, her voice is just silky smooth and very sexy, any annoyance with the ambient noise will become a minor thing once ‘The Fall’ grows on you.

The Fall (Limited Edition)
by Norah Jones
3.5 out of 5 star
Released:November 17, 2009
Label:Blue Note

Track listing
01."Chasing Pirates" 2:40
02."Even Though" 3:52
03."Light As a Feather"3:52
04."Young Blood"3:38
05."I Wouldn't Need You"3:30
07."It's Gonna Be"3:11
08."You've Ruined Me" 2:45
09."Back to Manhattan" 4:09
11."December" 3:05
12."Tell Yer Mama" 3:25
13."Man of the Hour" 2:56
B1."It's Gonna Be" 3:25
B2."Waiting" 3:33
B3."You've Ruined Me" 2:56
B4."Jesus, etc" 3:46
B5."Cry, Cry, Cry" 3:15
B6."Strangers" 3:35