Thomas Newman & Rick Cox – 35 Whirlpools Below Sound

Thomas Newman Rick CoxI admit: I was a bit biased.
Thomas Newman is the widely acclaimed composer of more than 50 film and television scores, earned no less than twelve Academy Award nominations and six Grammy Awards for an impressive list of movies that are not exactly of the lesser-known kind.
Just to name a few: American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, The Horse Whisperer, The People vs. Larry Flynt…
Knowing this, I expected to hear some well crafted and slick ‘movie soundtrack music’.

But I was wrong!
Maybe not about the ‘well-crafted’, and maybe not even about the ‘movie soundtrack music’,  but definitely about the ‘slick’!
The 19 tracks on 35 Whirlpools Below Sound” took me on one of the most fantastic, caleidoscopic journeys into soundworlds I hardly believed could exist!

My interest was triggered because the album is released on Cold Blue Music  a label focused on (West Coast) minimalism and post-minimalism – ánd because Newman teams up with Rick Cox, with whom he regularly worked since 1985.
Cox is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, explorer of ‘prepared electric guitar’ techniques, who has played with the likes of Ry Cooder, Jon Hassell, and is no stranger to creating film music himself…hence their connection.

The strange title was another indication this could be something very special.  It is taken from a line in Hervey M. Cleckley’s classic psychology study, The Mask of Sanity, in which the author quotes the following sentence from one of his patient’s letters: “Until you gentlemen decide further what my occupation is, you may as well announce me as comforting 35 whirlpools below sound.”

Scoring successful soundtracks obviously provides the luxury to break completely free of the usual constraints and create something beyond any expectation.
Simply put, this is one of the strangest albums that I can imagine. And not just because of the fantastical soundworlds Newman and Cox create in these “short, richly detailed, multilayered electro-acoustic soundscapes” – but also because of the way these sounds are recorded, the depth of the sound itself.
As Film Score Monthly aptly stated in their review: “I have a feeling that this music is what one would have heard if they’d put a stethoscope to the forehead of Samuel Beckett.”

Posting one single album track as an example does not do justice to the variety of sounds on this album.
So you’ll have to take my word for it, or check the samples at Amazon

If you want to order from Cold Blue Music, here’s their info about ordering (as they don’t have a Bandcamp page as far as I can tell).


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  1. luMar

    after re-read, today, Stalisnaw Lem “Solaris”, TELEGRAPH VINE, sounds like the perfect ambient soundscape to it . Hope the full album sounds, goes on that way.