Sting: All This Time
Sting’s entry into the CD-ROM arena is Sting: All This Time (Starwave Corp.), two discs of a breathtaking virtual British estate that provides an exhaustive look at Sting’s solo career. The man himself is on hand to ruminate, with his usual articulate pretension, on subjects ranging from death to modal fifths to literature to jazz. Sting is an intelligent man and a talented songwriter; he also possesses a powerful voice and an oh-so-handsome face. Perhaps it is his awareness of his varied blessings that makes him off-putting to so many people.
On this disc he ranges from wildly self-confident (“I have a tremendous vocal range,” he deadpans) to realistically modest (he makes it clear that, although he works with many jazz musicians, he does not consider himself a jazz performer because he does not improvise). He is never falsely humble and he doesn’t brag, but he’s not afraid to acknowledge his own talents. But even if you’re a fan of Sting’s solo music, it would be nice to see some of the Police represented on the disc – it’s one thing to move on with one’s career, but it’s another to deny the past. All This Time is so much Sting’s show that there’s not room for anybody else.
The virtual environment appropriates different images from his solo work, including blue turtles and fields of gold, and refers to the Police years only in passing, if at all. There are samples of literature that inspired Sting, clips from his various movie and TV appearances, a section on musical influences, footage of him doing yoga, and photographs of his Newcastle home town (“I lost my virginity under that pier,” he narrates with a chuckle). This CD-ROM is a success because of the very same things that sometimes turn people away from Sting: he’s not afraid to sound pretentious, and so he talks at length about many subjects that are usually considered only tangentially related to music. In the process, he makes All This Time into more than a shrine devoted to himself. It is a thoughtful exploration of the relationship between life, death, love, and religion, all bound together under the umbrella of music. Call it synchronicity; it’s his home territory, and nobody is better qualified to act as a tour guide.
-May 1996, Music