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Posts Tagged ‘Sumthing Else Music Works’

DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION

Composer: Michael McCann

Release: November 2011

Length: 12 Tracks

Label: Sumthing Else

The main theme of Edios Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that of Transhumanism: the study of transforming the human body by developing and technologies to eliminate aging, and enhancing the human condition physically and mentally. This theme, coupled with a ‘cyber-Renaissance’ art style, brings about an interesting concept. What we’re looking at today is how this theme has affected the music, composed by Michael McCann. With award-winning soundtracks like Splinter Cell: Double Agent under his belt, McCann has quite the reputation to bring to the game. Will he be able to transcend this soundtrack into greatness?

Unfortunately the full soundtrack hasn’t been released yet, however, those lucky enough to afford the Collector’s Edition of Deus Ex: HR (not the already beefy Augmented Edition) will have a 30-minute soundtrack included, and this is what we’ve been listening to for the past week. There are only a small number of tracks available, but they seem to feature a range of themes, from dramatic to epic, action-orientated to electronic ambience; appropriately mimicking the different play-styles involved in the videogame.

There are a number of comparatives that we can make straight away: Mass Effect, The Dark Knight, and Blade Runner spring to mind. However, McCann has a great skill for blending cinematic scores with organic soundscapes. The theme of transhumanism is apparent in the track “Opening Credits”, with its electronic bass rumble, and despite having those dramatic strings we’ve all grown to love from other cinematic scores, there’s an electro beat hooking up with a solo vocalist. “Detroit City Ambient Part” is another example of the game’s main theme influencing McCann’s style.

The cyber-punk/Renaissance theme is augmented by the use of choirs and solo vocalists. In “Icarus – Main Theme”, we’re treated to McCann’s skill as a cinematic composer; his use of dramatic piano sounds and synths give the music extra effect. But it’s his use of vocals that carry the most weight, sustaining any emotion the music may provoke.

Until we hear this complete soundtrack, we’re going to reserve our full judgement. It’s a good start so far, but there’s nothing here to grant this soundtrack into prominence. We’ve been looking forward to hearing this, but the twelve tracks available at the moment are not enough for us to go on.

Check out more of Alec-Ross Bower’s writing at Thirteen1.com

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ADVENT RISING

Composers: Tommy Tallarico, Emmanuel Fratianni, Michael Ploughman, Laurie Robinson

Release: June 2005

Length: 27 Tracks

Label: Sumthing Else Music Works

There’s a great deal of emotion and drama surrounding Advent Rising for many reasons, mainly its retail failure. It must be heart breaking to have such faith in a project that ultimately fails due to no fault of your own, which is exactly what happened to computer graphic designer GlyphX when they decided to develop their own IP. Advent Rising, an Xbox game released in 2005, had amazing potential; an original script written by renowned sci-fi author Orson Scott Card, innovative gameplay, and plans to make it into an epic trilogy. However, due to poor sales, the sequels were cancelled, and perhaps with the launch of the Xbox 360 a few months subsequent to the game’s release, Advent Rising was forgotten and it’s story surrounding humanity’s future has laid in limbo ever since. It’s a tragic tale, and one made all the more poignant by listening to the game’s orchestral score done by legendary videogame composer, Tommy Tallarico.

It’s not common you’ll come across a soundtrack to a game you haven’t played that instantly mesmerises you, but we have a rarity on our hands this month as Tallarico’s soundtrack does just that.

There are 27 tracks, and from the get-go Tallarico hits you hard with emotive string sections and sorrowful piano and choir melodies with the opening track, “Muse”. The choir arrangements that feature in several tracks invoke memories of the Halo and Fable games, along with a hint of Danny Elfman. The piano carries a lot of the drama, particularly in “Poeta”, a track that will ignite the senses of any classical music enthusiast. “Greater Lights” has the same melody as the two previous tracks; however it’s more of a song and it features the beautiful and evocative vocal talent of Charlotte Ma.

The game’s battle music has the correct balance of percussion and brass instruments, perfectly enhancing any dramatic action sequence, especially in “Canyon Encounter” and “The Rise of Aurelia”, the latter reminiscent of John William’s score from Star Wars. In fact, a lot of the music to feature on this soundtrack would suit a lightsaber duel or spaceship battle from a Star Wars film; however Tallarico manages to hold back on the cheese factor that Williams is very guilty for, especially in the later films. Another great action track is “Seeker Assault”, which will literally fuel you with adrenaline to go start an assault of your own.

But with all the action sequences this game must have, what really stands out in this soundtrack is the dramatic themes of the game’s plot. Tallarico has composed a strong and provocative melody that acts as the game’s theme tune, and it has the ability to tug at those all important heart strings.

The full story of Advent Rising may never get finished, remaining as a lost tale like many great myths and legends before it. However, Tallarico’s soundtrack remains as a reminder of what could have been, and should be listened to by all those who believe videogame music is a valid and truly awesome art form.

9/10

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Mass Effect OST

Composers: Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, Richard Jaques and David Kates

Release: November 2007

Length: 37 tracks

Label: Sumthing Else Music Works

Is the soundtrack to Bioware’s greatest space RPG out of this world?

Space exploration is an exciting career path. Traversing through the stars, encountering different alien species, and defeating the scourge of the universe, is all in a days work for a space explorer. The same applies for Commander Shepard, the morally confused hero of Mass Effect.

The Mass Effect Original Soundtrack was composed by the highly regarded Jack Wall and Sam Hulick (Richard Jaques and David Kates also made contributions, but their work goes unaccredited).

With 37 tracks, the soundtrack invokes memories of classic films, such as Halloween and Blade Runner, the latter being an understandable inspiration. The score is synth heavy, but the composers’ have the ability to sweep between grand orchestral moments to dense and simple electronic passages – it’s remarkable. “Saren” the theme for the game’s antagonist is a perfect example of this. The piece starts with an ominous bass synth played with brutal force, and gradually additional sections are introduced and the track reaches an eerie crescendo. The game’s lead track, “Mass Effect Theme”, is another example; an introduction of ambient tones and breathy effects leads to a splendid string composition, which is reprised in “Spectre Induction”, “The End” and ever so deftly in “From the Wreckage”.

The softer side of the soundtrack comes from the pieces “Love Theme” and “Uncharted Worlds”. The former is a piano driven composition that captures the grief of the main characters after they lose a well-loved member of the crew. The latter is an organic piece with drippings of bass synths and a frivolous piano running through. A lot of the in-game tracks are repetitive and relatively simple, shying away from the orchestral aspect of the score. Particular tracks such as “Eden Prime”, The Citadel”, and “Feros”, though all completely different in terms of sound, approach and rhythm, share a similar musical blueprint. The first half of the soundtrack primarily features in-game music, and the second half features the grander scores. After track #19, the pieces begin to blend into one another; the gap between each track becomes a blur, save for one or two fade-outs and long pauses.

The soundtracks main drawback is the brevity of the majority of the pieces, most tracks average less than two minutes and finish just before they achieve prominence. Nonetheless, praise must go to the soundtrack’s many composers, who have skilfully arranged it to contain powerful and occasionally mellow pieces. Wall, Hulick, Jaques and Kates, take a bow.

11/13

Recommended Downloads:

Mass Effect Main Theme

Love Theme

Saren

This article was originally published in Issue 22 of Thirteen1

abel: Sumthing Else Music Works

Is the soundtrack to Bioware’s greatest space RPG out of this world?

Space exploration is an exciting career choice.path. Traversing through the stars, encounteringmeeting different alien species, and defeating the scourge of the universe, is all in a days work forof a space explorer. The same applies for Commander Shepard, the morally-confusedmorally confused hero of Mass Effect[HL1] .

The Mass Effect Original Soundtrack was composed by the highly regarded Jack Wall and Sam Hulick (Richard Jaques and David Kates also made contributions, but their work goes unaccredited).

With 37 tracks, the soundtrack invokes memories of classic films, such as Halloween and Blade Runner, the latter being an obvious understandable inspiration. The score is synth heavy, but the composers’ have thean ability to sweep between grand orchestral moments to dense and simple electronic passages – it’s remarkable. “Saren” the theme for the game’s antagonist is a perfect example of this. The piece starts with an ominous bass synth played with brutal force, and gradually additionalmore sections are introduced and the track reaches an eerie crescendo. The game’s lead track, “Mass Effect Theme”, is another example;, an introduction of ambient tones and breathy effects leads to a splendid string composition, which is reprised in “Spectre Induction”, “The End” and ever so deftly in “From the Wreckage”.

The softer side of the soundtrack comes from the pieces “Love Theme” and “Uncharted Worlds”. The former is a piano driven composition that captures the mournfulness grief of the main characters after they loseing a well lovedwell-loved member of the crew. The latter is an organic piece with drippings of bass synths and a frivolous piano running through and drippings of bass synths. A lot of the in-game tracks are repetitive and relatively simple, shying away from the orchestral side aspect of the score. Particular tracks, such as “Eden Prime”, The Citadel”, and “Feros”, though all completely different in terms of sound, approach and rhythm, share a similar musical blueprint. The first half of the soundtrack primarily features in-game music, and the second half features the grander scores. After track #19, the pieces begin to blend into one another; the gap between each track becomes a blur, save for one or two fade outsfade-outs and long pauses.

The soundtrack’s drawback of the soundtrack is comes from the brevityabrupt briefness[HL2] of the majority of the pieces,; most tracks average less thanunder two minutes and finish just before they achievereach prominence. Nonetheless, praise must go to the soundtrack’s many composers, who have skilfully arranged it to contain powerful and occasionally mellow pieces. Nonetheless praise must go to the scores many composers who have skilfully arranged a powerful and sometimes mellow score. [HL3] Wall, Hulick, Jaques and Kates, take a bow.

11/13


[HL1]Could you stick a sentencen here to link?  Something like, ‘And such exciting exploration needs a soundtrack to equal it’?

[HL2]It’s not briefness it’s brevity, and abrupt brevity doesn’t really make sense

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HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED OST

Composer: Martin O’Donnell & Michael Salvatori

Release: June 2002

Length: 26 tracks

Label: Sumthing Else Music Works

Is Martin O’Donnell’s first attempt out of this world?

Halo: Combat Evolved was the starting point of something spectacular. In 2001, Bungie introduced the new FPS to the gaming world and players around the globe were blown away. The first Halo had everything, explosive gameplay, intelligent enemies and a superb soundtrack by Martin O’Donnell – Marty to his friends – and his talented work partner, Michael Salvatori. For every Halo game, this duo have put everything into their music, and each soundtrack has evolved appropriately with the series.

In the first game, the soundtrack features a variety of musical techniques, including chanting, string orchestras and experimental percussion pieces. Mixing these techniques with electronic compositions gave the game a sci-fi and ‘ancient’ feel, something which the games developers requested from O’Donnell. At a glance, the soundtrack can seem quite intimidating; there are 26 tracks in total, many of which have humorous titles that show Bungie’s and O’Donnell’s sense of fun and pride towards the game. “Rock Anthem for Saving the World” is a fine example of this. This heavy-guitar track is the first sample of O’Donnell’s experimentation with the main theme and a distorted guitar, a favourite with most Halo fans, which became extremely popular after the release of the second game.

A lot of the tracks summon some great memories, for instance, “Brothers in Arms” reminds many of their first encounter with the hunters, while “Under Cover of Night”, with its rhythmic and catchy bass line, sends flashing images of a sniper rifle scope focusing on an Elite’s alien brow. And who can forget the terrifying music that accompanies the Flood. “Devils…Monsters”, with its high-pitched chords backing a dramatic drum composition, invokes fear and panic into those who’ve encounter the parasitic entities.

Pieces that really stand out are the terrific “Walk in the Woods”, a great sound system is needed for this fuzzy track to sound its best, and the “Covenant Dance”, which at first starts out with yet another drum composition that turns into a fantastic alien-like track with a body-popping melody.

After a while, the soundtrack does begin to get repetitive. The non-stop drumming and frequent chanting can drown out other melodies within the tracks. Plus there will be times when you think you’re listening to the same song again, until the track suddenly changes inappropriately.

All this aside though, and you’ve got a fantastically produced soundtrack for a momentous video game. It’s certainly not the best in the series, but it definitely set a great standard for the following soundtracks.

8/10

Recommended Downloads:

Truth and Reconciliation Suite

Perilous Journey

Devils…Monsters

This article was originally published in Issue 20 of Thirteen1

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