I looked at the spine of the jewel case for this album, and it said “A Map of the World.” I tucked it away in my stack of CDs to review, and forgot about it. I came back to it this morning, and noticed on the cover that it said, “Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture.” I thought to myself, “Hmm…you can never tell what to expect from one of these.” Sometimes, it can be broad and lavish orchestrations, whether good or bad. Sometimes, from a mainstream, non-classical performer such as Pat Metheny, it can be just like listening to a somewhat conceptual album of works similar in style to that artist’s normal sound.
The album starts with its title track, a beautiful suite with some very interesting guitar work and a very interesting melody overall. The second track, “Family,” is equally interesting, and it gets the album off to a wonderful, rich beginning.
As the orchestra is slowly worked into the mix, the songs become more and more sappy, and less and less inventive. The melodic spark that highlighted the first few tracks begins to sink into the preverbal pit, with little hope for survival in sight.
A few shorter tunes, which I can only assume are actually from the film score (not just “inspired by” it), dominate the middle section of the album. These tracks take what was a still respectable little film score, and dumb it down amongst cellos and what I’ll bet were referred to in the score as “soaring violins.” A few modest variations on the original theme show up, one being a beautiful piano piece, with light and airy lines, and, unfortunately, a running time of just 53 seconds.
The rest of the album goes back and forth between guitar pieces and orchestrations, and never seems to complete itself. Also, it ends with a much more dreary feeling than I had hoped for around the third to last track. It does make me stop and wonder if I would have liked the album more if I had already seen the film. Maybe I would understand the dismality of it all.
...Damn…I hate when mega-corporations like Warner Bros. make me think stuff like that. Stupid cross-marketing.