LOBSTER WARS – Andy Kubiszewski

Original Review by Alan Rogers

Off the coast of New England, five lobster boat crews struggle to land their catch in any weather in Lobster Wars, a Discovery Channel documentary series from 2007 (the show is also known as Deadliest Catch: Lobstermen). Lobster Wars is one of a long line of fly-on-the-wall documentaries that follow various sections of life who endure difficult and sometimes extreme conditions in order to just do their job (Ice Road Truckers anyone?). American/Polish musician Andy Kubiszewski has composed music for numerous TV shows (e.g., Monster House, Ice Road Truckers, America’s Toughest Jobs), many of which feature a hard-edged score that reflects the extreme nature of the subject matter (and also the characteristically “in-your-face” narration that accompanies these documentaries). Kubiszewski bases his score for Lobster Wars around a small group of instruments (live and synth), using growling electric guitars and pounding percussion elements together with fiddles and accordion/concertina to provide an enjoyable score that feels like a grungy Celtic rock group’s latest instrumental album.

The album opens with “Catch Experiment”, which features a very catchy riff played on fiddles that gives an immediate Celtic feel to the score and is perhaps suggestive of the geographic setting of the series. Percussion beats, growling guitar licks and the occasional anvil hit adds colour to the basic repeating fiddle motif. The Celtic feel to the music is very prominent throughout and seems also to hint at the boat crews’ camaraderie, risking their lives to land their catch. The fiddle takes centre-stage in cues such as “Fiddle 1”, “Fiddlework” and especially in “Catch of The Day” where it plays out a jig in celebration of the crew’s success. What sounds like uilleann pipes (“Out To Sea” and “Adventure At Sea”) and accordion/concertina (“Sea and Sky” and “Wind Driven”) reinforce the Celtic air and, together with the fiddles (and the solitary use of female vocals in “Celtic 1”), links the various tracks to a common sound. Kubiszewski does a good job at establishing the setting (geographical as well as maritime) with this Celtic sound. 

Many of the documentaries of the this type are very much male-oriented when it comes to focusing on the jobs at hand. Kubiszewski uses these opportunities here to reach back to his rock musician days – with bands such as the Exotic Birds and Stabbing Westward – to give the score a hard-nosed rock sound that is full of the aforementioned growling electric guitars as well as pounding rhythms (these pounding rhythms are a feature throughout the score whether the music is the hard-edged rock or Celtic tracks). Both “Wilbo Heavywork” and “Timothy Michael Work” are compositions that are based around repeating low guitar riffs and add a whole bucket load of testosterone to the scenes where the crews land their lobster. They are one of the highlights of the album.

Kubiszewski’s Lobster Wars is a surprisingly enjoyable album that just flies by. A length of thirty-five minutes is just about right and the split between the Celtic sound and more rock-oriented tracks sounds fine as well. Tracks such as “Dragger 1” and “Melancholy Sea” slows the place down a bit, allowing the listener to pause to catch their breath, but the slower pace with the associated emphasis on a more orchestral sound betrays the electronic source of the orchestra (particularly the strings). This is just a minor criticism and by the time the 50-second “Lobster Men” rounds out the album (encapsulating in that time the whole sound of the score) the concerns on these slower tracks is forgotten. Lobster Wars can be purchased at selected online stores.

Audio samples can be found HERE for samples of entire album or individual tracks.

Rating: ***

  1. Catch Experiment (1:47)
  2. Out To Sea (2:04)
  3. Fiddle 1 (2:43)
  4. Sea and Sky (2:07)
  5. Celtic 1 (2:24)
  6. Timothy Michael Theme (1:46)
  7. Dragger 1 (2:17)
  8. Melancholy Sea (2:28)
  9. Wind Driven (2:40)
  10. Adventure At Sea (1:43)
  11. Catch of The Day (2:02)
  12. Wilbo Heavywork (2:28)
  13. Timothy Michael Work (2:13)
  14. Celtic 2 (2:26)
  15. Intrigue (1:37)
  16. Fiddlework (1:56)
  17. Lobster Men (0:48)

Running Time: 35:35

Amygdala Music (2007)


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