Friday Album, A Bit Late: Gustavo Santaolalla – “The Last of Us” OGST

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGsuMgeVlVg To be strictly reductionist, The Last of Us is a staple zombie apocalypse game (complete with the requisite gunplay, gore, and tight-corners fighting), but its superbly tense plot and cavernous characterization caused a stir. Linear storytelling in games has almost become risky in recent years, not so much because writing has gone downhill but [...]

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Soundtrack Month: “Imaginaerum” (Tuomas Holopainen)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofx7LzWdHqQ&list=PLqk_JOBZMYvEeLvs6cvlb2hu3Z7qGLplH A score for a small-budget movie you’re sure to have missed unless you follow Nightwish, frontman Tuomas Holopainen finally got a chance to flex the full strength of his orchestral muscles with this project. Nightwish has long been known for broad, sweeping sounds and epic flavors (I can count the metal bands I listen [...]

Soundtrack Month: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [The Complete Recordings]” (Howard Shore

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F_OH_hX6MY&list=PL99D96766C5C05441 This probably appears to be an excessively obvious choice, but it’s still worth considering if you really haven’t listened to it yet. The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some of the longest soundtracks in recent years. In an age when a 100-minute movie is considered long, only Bollywood soundtracks boast a longer average [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Vikings: Season 2” (Trevor Morris)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8-G1t5W4yI&list=PLkvtu-zWyS5hsbrNnCBhIHHAzdUPYSLeG&index=1 Vikings is a fascinating, unsettling, and frequently brutal series, but it’s also bar none for strange atmospheres. The music is no exception. Trevor Morris (with more than a little help from some neopagan enthusiasts) mixed beat programming, ambient thoughts, and a variety of unique solo instruments together to get the mysterious cocktail that is [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Serenity” (David Newman)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unrD3b129P8&list=PLKnjrif5pVKdFL_Qi5__SN1nObwby3BRq Serenity was the sobering epilogue to Joss Whedon’s fun but short-lived Firefly TV series. The music is a bit more reflective than the show’s was, but it still has a decently gritty, spunky, and achingly melancholic Old West feeling. This one is perfect for those of you who want structure without excessive formality.  

Soundtrack Month: “The Golden Compass” (Alexandre Desplat)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuu2CTQo-Lw&list=PLOe4317hNRKIuKbdt42cxmXgXjLicD3hw While The Golden Compass as a movie made some disruptive and dividing waves among viewers, the soundtrack is delightful. I don’t always understand Alexandre Desplat’s music (especially when  the moments in this score when an army of pianists play through a section at the same time – talk about organized chaos!), but the balance [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (Nicholas Hooper)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21Nk5-Pszno&list=PL37B12F0DC4E243EC Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has a strange place in both the film  franchise and book series. Gone is the startled, biting darkness that Order of the Phoenix so masterfully covered. Harry and those around him are both grimly resolved to fight chaos and irrecoverably entrenched in teen angst. The movie’s overall vibe [...]

Epic Trailer Album: “Magnus” (Audiomachine)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBaHVEQ4wW0 At the rate they generate new material, Audiomachine is, well, practically a machine. Their music is primarily used for advertising and movie trailers, but rumors abound that they have increasingly made more music for the sake of music since the epic trailer genre gained momentum several years ago. Their albums usually have plentiful tracks [...]

Game soundtrack: “Halo 3: ODST” (Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a33iI6xfld0 For an inexplicable reason, many soundtracks in shooter games of the last decade have either leaned into strong rock sound or thoughtful, delicate, semi-choral, rather ambient ones. ODST somehow merges the two. While not without harsh rocker moments, it’s mostly a gorgeous and meandering playlist full of excellent harmonies, sweet piano solos, and gentle [...]