Sony Music Soundtrax, 1996



I remember the name James Horner because of his fantastic work in Aliens which gave another dimention to director Cameron's thrilling storyline. The flutes at the end of the explosion, the adrenaline pumping thematics and the eeriest sound effects ever made by classical instruments all contributed to H. R. Giger's formidable landscapes and of course, the Alien design. That movie had three key things going for it; the set, Sigourney Weaver, and the music.

Titanic has the set (understatement), Kate Winslet (DiCaprio? Don't make me giggle) and ... well ... the music.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The usage of Celtic themes and someone who sounds a lot like Enya is the centerpiece of this album, interrupted by a non-Celtic Celine Dion singing in her usual formulaic theatricality. This album needs her; the instrumentals are not as multi-dimentional as one would expect of Horner.

The bagpipes in "Never An Absolution" and "Hymn To The Sea" are a surprisingly fitting touch while the pennywhistles are reduced to playing exactly two themes over and over again. The obvious synthesizers in "Southampton" and "Leaving Port" are irritatingly unemotional while they do lend an ethereal quality to "Distant Memories" and its reprisal at the end of the album.

The action sequences are totally bland; "'Hard to Starboard'", "The Sinking" and "Death of Titanic" are disappointing outside the theater and it's hard to believe that this man is the only person to rival John Williams in the composition of thrilling scores. This album is not being bought for its excitment.

It has to be in the sentimental tracks; it's a sentimental movie. Tracks like "Rose" and "A Life So Changed" are lyrical enough but then again, so are the tracks by Enya. Even the Celine Dion track is very different from the one with one hundred and five million or so airplay points (the one here cut out a connecting bridge and has no backing vocals). What made this soundtrack such a huge success?

Whitney Houston pay attention: what we are seeing here is the rare case of a movie selling its music; not the other way around. It can be done! The music in question, though it does have its high points, is not such a remarkable piece of work. The consumers want a souvenior, something to go along with their coffee table book to pass the time until the video comes out. The coffee table book was number one for quite some time as well.

I would recommend Enya's Shepherd Moons for anyone who found this album life-altering. It's more solid in its usage and much more multi-dimensional. But I do warn you, it won't go along with the coffee table book.

Rating: B-

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