Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Sting - Symphonicities

Symphonicities is a chance to hear some Sting classics reinvented - not particularly in a modern way, but certainly in a new way. Think of this as an album of orchestral rearrangements, a fresh review of the originals rather than an album of entirely new tracks or mere remixes of the old ones.

Favourites including Roxanne and Englishman In New York are given the treatment - some to a greater extent than others - while Sting's vocals are still there; these are not instrumentals. The instruments are the stars here though, with Sting's delivery similar to a live performance, fairly stripped back, and the arrangements allowed to shine through.

High Points

This is a bit of an indulgence, but Roxanne is arguably one of the positives of this album purely because of Moulin Rouge - anyone who's been pining for a proper orchestral version that's anything like El Tango De Roxanne in that movie has something to get their listening gear wrapped around. Granted, it's not as much of a departure from the original as the Moulin Rouge version, but it's still good to hear the music given extra depth and the timbre of a live orchestra.

Across the board, the introductions are strong, fitting the symphonic motif of Symphonicities. Swelling strings and deep brass stand alongside one another on more than one occasion, pushing for an emotional response from the listener even before Sting's unmistakeable voice joins the orchestra.

The Verdict

If you can't make new music, make good music. That's what this is all about - there are no apologies for presenting a line-up of songs that have not only been released before, but are among the most recognisable of their era. Instead the recognition and reinvention complement one another nicely to create a new listening experience that won't alienate long-term fans.

Personally, I do enjoy Sting's voice - I know plenty of people don't - and I've never been put off by the casual delivery. It creates the idea of open-mic nights early in Sting's career and a connection with his roots. Look out for the digital version of Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic - arguably the best on the album, perfectly arranged as a grand-scale version of the original which uses the orchestra to its absolute fullest advantage.

I'm gonna knock a few points off, purely because I can't imagine playing this album too often or for too long at a time - maybe once through with a glass of good wine when nobody else is home, but it's very much a listening experience that demands attention, rather than just something to stick on.

Final Score: 68%

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