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White Squall (Soundtrack) by Jeff Rona

Tracksounds Rating = 9/10

White Squall (Soundtrack) by Jeff Rona

Composed by Jeff Rona
Performed by uncredited; various
Released by Hollywood Records in 1996

Track Title Time Rating Rona's Wave
by Christopher Coleman

Ridley Scott's white capped adventure film exploring the mysteries of the high seas as well as the mysteries of manhood, is held steady by composer Jeff Rona's beautiful score.  The CD release by Hollywood Records grabs hold of the highlights of Rona’s score and throws in a few period rock and roll tunes scattered throughout the movie.

Still Waters is from the opening titles and is the first track of the CD.   It sets the mysterious, ominous tone for the film.  It features shiver-me-timbers choral work that most have come to know and love from many-a score from the Media Ventures family.  The oboe also plays a prominent role and adds a great sense of wonder, innocence, and memorial to the piece.  This particular track seems to be a musical memorial to the inevitable tragedy that strikes the crew of the Albatross.  One knows, right from the onset of the film that this will likely not have a happy ending.  Interestingly, this theme, as fantastic as it is, is not found again until track 12, The Return Home.  Rona, here, returns us to the solemn memorial. By this point in the film, the tragedy has occurred and now the survivors are left to deal with the aftermath and the memory of those lost.  The majority of the remaining tracks take on a much different set of motifs and textures.

Departures features the harp, strings, oboe, in an almost dreamy-style. It is here we also get our first audible glimpse of Jeff Rona’s wonderful use of conk shells.  At the onset of the track, this piece is much lighter and cheerful than its predecessor and conveys the wide innocence of most of the young, student-crew.  As the track concludes it becomes a bit more ominous as the conk shells blow, various Caribbean percussions echo and rumbling bass shakes the listener. 

The tempo increases significantly with The Journey Begins.  With driving island-percussions, penny whistles, and uilleann pipes this track is a perfect fit for the high seas.  The latter half of track 5, On the Water/ Dolphins utilizes this theme as well, albeit a bit more subdued and with strong use of the steel drums. About a third of the way through track 3; however, the mood changes greatly, to one of suspense, challenge, or even threat.

The best track of them all is The Power of the Wind.  It is very simple, at the onset, with strings and harp and woodwinds.  With one blast of a conk shell the moods once again shifts as the synths take a bit more of stage and a trumpet takes the lead.  Those marvelous whistles come and go.  The strings ebb and flow and one can almost hear the waves crashing against the hull of the ill-fated sail ship.  A similar sound is found in track 10, The Test, but it does not quite reach the same intensity.

A Wonderful Sail sounds like a mellowed celtic-dance tune and Ringing Out flows in the same style as tracks 3-5.  They are similarly mellow, free flowing, and of the sea and wind.

The Cubans/ New World (Track 8) bring what many have come to expect as a Media Ventures suspense track, yet Jeff Rona does not completely fall into that mold and keeps it comparatively fresh although a bit uneventful.

Galapagos starts as with strong percussion usually associated with celtic music and one only heard the first measure of this piece they might think they were listening to a bit from The Last of the Mohicans.  Of course, that changes quickly as the uilleann pipes make a strong show of themselves.  Also incorporated are some of the themes introduced in Power of the Wind.

White Squall (Lifeboats) is the tragic track that Still Waters (Track 1) foretold each of us of. The soft strings sing of the helpless Albatross ship and the crew that struggle against the affects of this meteorological phenomenon.  Here the chorus subtly returns as the strings pay their last respects.  Hope is returned through the blowing of the conk shell and we can hear that not all were lost to the squall.

The CD concludes with several rock and roll tunes- some well known (I Want to Walk You Home, The Twist) and some obscure (Teenage Ska).  Thankfully, they are all corralled and placed at the end of the CD (as per Jeff Rona) so they can be skipped, if one isn’t in the mood.

This is likely the best known of Jeff Rona’s works thus far.  It is an imaginative effort that greatly enhanced the embracibility of the film.  Hopefully, other directors will hear this score and sign him to create another wave of sonic beauty for their film.

1

Still Waters

3:24

****
2

Departures

4:34

****
3

The Journey Begins

4:38

***
4 Power of the wind 2:43 *****
5

On the Water/ Dolphins

3:58

***
6

A Wonderful Sail

3:19

***
7

Ringing Out

2:52

***
8

The Cubans/ New World

4:10

***
9

Galapagos

2:40

****
10

The Test

1:05

***
11

White Squall (Lifeboats)

4:21

****
12 The Return Home 3:24 ****
13

I Want to Walk You Home

2:24

**
14 The Skye Boat Song  2:24 **
15 Yellow Basket (Tommy McCook and The Supersonics) 3:15 **
16 Be My Guest (Fats Domino) 1:59 **
17 The Twist (Chubby Checker) 2:39 **
18 Somethin' Else (Eddie Cochran) 2:03 **
19 Teenage Ska (Baba Brooks Band) 2:38 **
  Total PlayingTime 58:30    

Category

Score

 

Film Continuity

10  

Originality

10  

CD Length

8  

Track Order

8  

Performance

8  

Final Score

9  
         

Other reviews:

Despite the poetic gentleness that is a constant thread throughout this score, there are diverse moments like the moody and synthesised "New World" (where Rona appears to have found some inspiration in Vangelis), or the percussive parts in "The Journey Begins" and in "The Cubans," After a mélange of synthesized sounds, the rich tones blowing into conch shells, a wide range of percussive elements and some penny whistles, "White Squall: Lifeboats" played almost completely by a string orchestra comes out as a tidal wave of emotion. ****1/2
Martin Provost - Cinemusic


Composer 
Jeff Rona

White Squall (Soundtrack) by Jeff Rona
Rona's approach is much different to his stablemates - his main title, 'Still Waters', is a slow, ambient piece played on an oboe with a soft male-voice backing, and 'Departures' is quiet and lyrical, this time featuring a delicate harp and pan pipes. In fact, most of the music could be described as 'relaxing' - enchanting, moody, slightly desolate seascapes with exotic elements like penny whistles, uillean pipes and even couch shells thrown in amongst a standard, albeit smaller orchestra. ***
Jonathan Broxton - Movie Music U.K.

CD available through

White Squall (Soundtrack) by Jeff Rona

All artwork from The Avengers is exclusive property of Hollywood Records (c) 1996.  Its appearance is for imformational purposes only.

 

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