Composer Bill Whitley is no stranger to storytelling through the art of composition. Central themes in his works include that of embarking on a journey, the thrill and spontaneity of discovery, and the comfort and reflectiveness of the eventual returning home. These form a story arc as old as time, beautifully transcribed and made new through Whitley’s compositions.
THEN ELEPHANT SPEAKS is no exception. Like the symbol of the elephant, the works on this album are strong and powerful, representing the search for truth. The instruments, whether they be piano, harp, vibraphone, electric guitars, or electronics, build patiently, gathering up every second to create one living, breathing force.
According to Whitley, as the piece Then Elephant Speaks was being written, the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred. The event influenced not only the mood of the piece, but the approach to remixing the songs as well. Like every great story, the narrative belongs in the hands of different perspectives which all work together to find truth. Motifs are shared among the original compositions and remixes, but each reiteration makes you rethink what you once knew about the piece, giving a new truth to the listening experience.
Whitley’s second composition on the album, The Circles, is remixed twice. Each of the three tracks share the spirit of the cyclical journey, but each offers a unique perspective. The original track sets a relatively conventional tone with piano melodies over electronic harmonics. The first remix takes the same melodies and asserts a greater electronic influence over the composition, driving the piece into a realm of ambient music. The second remix, one that was written seven years earlier than the first two, is the skin and bones; uninterrupted piano leading the listener through the sonic journey.