A city below the waves? Or something more primordial? While putting together my introduction to the concept and enigma that is possibly a false Paul McCartney, I have begun to revisit the work of post Beatles’ Macca. Some of the albums I remember from my college years, other albums are first time auditory adventures (or misadventures) for me. One that happened to stand out recently, at least from an album cover perspective, is Paul McCartney’s Ocean’s Kingdom. With a spot of synchronicity in my world having begun to explore the concept of “space as water, water as space,” and simultaneously researching the Odyssey of Faul, the album’s cover immediately captured my interest. Let’s take a quick look at it.
The story behind Macca’s involvement with the ballet soundtrack’s commission appears fairly straightforward. Macca met New York City’s Ballet Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martin in 2010 at the School of American Ballet’s Winter Gala, and decided to collaborate on a project together shortly thereafter. Commissioned by the NYCB, Macca then begun to research the concept of a score for a ballet after visiting the Royal Opera House in London. Focusing his music on the concept of the purity of the ocean, the score, character development, and theme of the ballet work apparently came together fairly quickly. With the assistance of his daughter’s fashion design background, the Ocean’s Kingdom was premiered on September 22, 2011 in NYC.
Imagine two worlds, if you will. There is the world of the ethereal and pure Ocean’s Kingdom below the surface of the ocean, and the menacing Earth Kingdom whose antics pose problems (ie pollution) for the residents of the Ocean’s Kingdom. Princess Honorata, royalty of the Ocean’s Kingdom, meets and falls in love with Prince Stone, royal family member of the Earth Kingdom. The Earth Kingdom takes it upon itself to possibly attack the ethereal depths of the Ocean’s Kingdom, courtesy of the Terra Punks, when love befalls Honorata and Stone; Terra has no interest in letting their peaceful neighbors stay at peace, let alone allowing a romantic relationship to exist between the two civilizations.
Prince Stone’s evil brother, King Terra, also falls in love with Princess Honorata, and with the assistance of Scala, a wicked assistant to Honorata, allows for Honorata’s capture by the Terra Punks…I think Scala changes her mind and helps Honorata later escape the Terra Punks with Prince Stone, there is a big fight, characters perish, lovers are reunited…as I’ve not seen the ballet in person, I’m not quite sure what happens or how the story line unfolds. I’ve attempted to piece the plot together with sources online, but the majority of articles are focused on pointing out the shortcomings of the production’s a) choreography, b) costume design, and c) plot line, or some combination therein, as a portion of a larger level of criticism hinting that the Macca/NYCB collaboration as being a contrived marketing ploy.
Does it really matter what the story line is? I think we all know how the theme plays out; as Macca could say it no better, “love happens when earth meets water.” It may not quite be all four elements of alchemy, but it is a start. And as I’ve just mentioned, I’ve not seen the production, therefore I have no really right to make any criticisms on the theatrical utility or appreciation of Ocean’s Kingdom.
The Track Listing
There are four tracks that Sir Macca composed to accompany the theatrical work includes:
- Movement I : Ocean’s Kingdom
- Movement II : Hall of Dance
- Movement III : Imprisonment
- Movement IV: Moonrise
I’ve re-listened to it again twice today. Not bad; a very pleasant use of harmony and chord structures…perfect for background music at work.
Ocean’s Kingdom Album Cover Art
Per one of my favorite websites, The Beatles Bible, the artwork is described as such:
The artwork for Ocean’s Kingdom continued the underwater theme of the music and ballet. The front cover also contained a depiction of the notes from the computerised musical score as a digital readout, reproduced to look like neon lights. (c)
It is an interesting image; one could argue that the neon lights form a shape of a sea creature, when the image is extended out. The lights could also represent the fantasy world of Prince Horonata and the structures of her Ocean’s Kingdom. Or could it be hinting at something else….
The Media’s Portrayal of the Meme that Space is Water
Returning to the original scope of the article, and the previously mentioned idea that the media implies that “space is water,” I want to summarize a second possible layer of imagery embedded in the promotional art above.
Of initial interest are the neon lights. Officially, the lights are a digital readout of the musical notes of the score. Also implied officially, the scene is that of the Underwater Kingdom. One could argue, however, that the neon lights strike a close resemblance to a city’s skyline. Skyscrapers, offices buildings, and other complexes dot the horizon, wherein above the the city is sky of water. Through this layer of water light is shining through; it could be light from the Sun or the Lunar Moon. I would argue a case could be made for the latter. Space is possibly water, with a light transmitted through the water to the Earth from with the watery heavens. Throw titles of compositions such as “Imprisonment” and “Moonrise”, and the secondary imagery could get down right depressing. Let’s pass on that theme for the time being.
More Rotten Apple Stuff
The point of this article? I was hoping to find something of interest in the story’s plot in regards to the Lunar Moon, the Greater Universe, possibly even some glimpse of the Abyss or Great Darkness. It might be there, but as I doubt I will ever see the production, I can only go on what others have written and discussed. Do I think that Macca is hinting that “space is water, water is space” with the image of his cover? I do not think that is true either; unless it is possibly a release of art “stuff” that manifests certain truths known by our larger collective unconscious.
What I do find curious is the theme of space attached with Macca. Returning to the YouTube series The Rotten Apple Series, it is hinted that the material that makes up the series is insider provided, and that clues are inserted in the stream of images, dialogue, and music of each episode. If one takes the time to watch the series, one will note imagery of the Lunar Moon, Pluto, and other possible celestial objects (Saturn, anyone?) inserted into the stream of pictures and videos as the series gets into episodes 70 through 80s. Very curious imagery for a Beatle. What might that imply? More on that in the coming weeks….
As always, feel free to leave any comments or criticisms. As I always state, this is simply my opinion, and my opinion could be based on me incorrectly connecting coincidental dots. Or maybe the dots are not coincidental. Either way, I do recommend the album to any Macca fans with a taste for light classical.
c: “Paul McCartney: Ocean’s Kingdom | The Beatles Bible.” The Beatles Bible. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.