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Tall Ships: Privateer Lynx by David James Nielsen

Tall Ships: Privateer Lynx

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Tall Ships: Privateer Lynx (Soundtrack) by David James Nielsen

Tall Ships: Privateer Lynx
Composed by David James Nielsen
Moviescore Media (2011)

Rating: 5/10

 Buy Tall Ships: Privateer Lynx (Soundtrack)  by David James Nielsen from iTunes


“Whilst the music never achieves the thematic individuality of what one would expect from a major Hollywood film, NIELSEN has certainly crafted an evocative backdrop to the documentary.”

Sails or Floats?
Review by Richard Buxton

Expeditions in the infinite blue of the oceans have provided audiences with many a good listening experience down the years. From the likes of TITANIC to THE PERFECT STORM, to the swashbuckling adventures of THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, the high seas have regularly exhibited memorable musical moments. With the occasional use of artistic license, cinema has been crafted in a mould that permits composers to produce scores of outstanding thematic content to accompany these sailing adventures, yet a documentary exists purely to convey real life. Are the bold themes of the sea-faring blockbusters attainable, or better yet appropriate for a production such as TALL SHIPS: PRIVATEER LYNX?

DAVID JAMES NIELSEN’S music for TALL SHIPS answers that question with a somewhat indecisive answer. Whilst the music never achieves the thematic individuality of what one would expect from a major Hollywood film, NIELSEN has certainly crafted an evocative backdrop to the documentary.

The overarching atmosphere of NIELSEN’S music is one of reserved boldness, an attribute expertly conveyed in the main theme. First heard in “Tall Ships: Privateer Lynx (Theme” (1), the brass-led main theme is one of heroism but also of restrained dignity. On first listen this may be hard to interpret as the synthetic nature of the score is perhaps the first noticeable element to the score, but on repeat listens the theme soon shines through. The theme is of a relatively simplistic construction melodically and harmonically, and can be heard on numerous occasions, and in various variations throughout the 38 minutes of music present on the soundtrack. The theme can easily become associated with the ocean, even when listened to outside the context of the documentary. The reverb splashed across the majority of the tracks provides a strong flavor, reminiscent of the all-powerful seas. Announcing itself in the opening track, the main theme makes a swift reappearance in the background of “Sailors at Work” (3), supporting the various chopping string and guitar motifs. It again resurfaces, mildly altered, in “She’s A Fast Ship” (5), in the form of a delicate brass melody. The two greatest variations on the main theme come in two consecutive tracks. A militaristic and reflective variation can be heard in “200 Years Apart” (10), starkly contrasting the soft guitar rendition that dominates “First Mate Killick’s Message” (11). The stirring guitar plucks debuted earlier in “Our Precious Mother Earth” (2), glossing the score with a more reflective and relaxed texture. The score rounds out with “Sailing In A New Era” (16), a summary of the score’s main themes.

Somewhat diverting from the overuse of the main theme, “The Forces of Nature” (14) generates ample excitement, using a potent rhythm and strong string ostinato that support the percussive string melodies. The switch in emphasis is a welcome one, providing a sufficiently different landscape to that of the rest of the score.

The greatest drawback of NIELSEN’S music for TALL SHIPS is the immediate recognition upon hearing the music that it is clearly of a synthetic disposition. The endless pursuit of the perfect orchestral simulation continues, and this is a constant blight on the score. This is never more obvious than in the more hectic moments in the score. The chopping strings are a constant reminder, while the robotic consistency of the guitar and brass genuinely begins to grate as the final tracks approach. NIELSEN’S tendency to use swift ascending and descending patterns often fall victim to the artificial finish of the score, the proximity, interval and duration of each note regularly stating the synthetic approach used.

Despite such a major drawback for a score, NIELSEN has produced some genuinely invigorating moments for TALL SHIPS, moments that induce appropriately stirring oceanic images. The reliance on the main theme is occasionally glaring however, as the remaining tracks offer little to divert a listener’s attention, and this makes TALL SHIPS: PRIVATEER LYNX hard to recommend to those unfamiliar with NIELSEN or the documentary itself.

Rating: 5/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Tall Ships:  Privateer Lynx (Theme) 2:23  ***
2 Our Precious Mother Earth 2:02  ***
3 Sailors at Work 1:44  ***
4 "I'm the Captain" " Captain Craig Chipman's Theme 1:40  **
5 She's A Fast Ship 2:03  ***
6 The Last Battle of the Revolution 3:14  ***
7 Heroes of the Ocean 2:17  **
8 Learning the Ropes 2:32  ***
9 Tall Ships Are Made of People 0:50  ***
10 200 Years Apart 1:45  ***
11 First Mate Killick's Message 1:04  ***
12 The Isthmus 2:44  **
13 The Earth Is a Ship 5:58  ***
14 The Forces of Nature 3:51  ****
15 Touching the Sea 2:04  **
16 Sailing in A New Era 2:09  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 38 minutes  


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