|Regular | Headlines
|All times are
PT (Pacific Time), U.S.A.
|CD Reviews: Halo 2 and Headhunter|
|Posted By: Steven A. Kennedy on March 29, 2005 - 9:00 PM|
CD Reviews: Halo 2 and Headhunter
By Steven A. Kennedy
Halo 2: Volume One *
MARTIN O'DONNELL AND MICHAEL SALVATORI
Something Else SE-2013-2
21 tracks - 69:28
This video game soundtrack, produced by Nile Rodgers, uses the same
techniques as film soundtrack albums -- that is, a series of "inspired
by" works are mixed in with the material written specifically for the
game. The opening of the disc has a wordless male chorus in a kind of
false Renaissance chant mode that soon moves into a pure rock number
featuring guitarist Steve Vai. It is a kind of cross between Tangerine
Dream and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The rest of the disc is filled
out with selections performed by Breaking Benjamin, Incubus and a
"bonus cut" featuring Hoobastank. Incubus performs a four-movement work
that is split throughout the disc and was written exclusively for the
album. These are massive four- to-nine-minute tracks of varying
interest. The others have all contributed new songs. That should give
you an idea of who the primary audience is for this disc.
The non-rock material is composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael
Salvatori, who also co-wrote the music for Halo: Combat Evolved. The first
"score" cue, "Peril" sounds like it was produced by a high end
synthesizer, but the booklet says it is "orchestrated and conducted,"
so I could be wrong. It's fairly standard underscore with a kind of
Thomas Newman edge to it. The choral sounds created in "Ghosts of
Reach" are interesting but nothing extraordinary. The titles of the
individual tracks no doubt go with some specific scene in the game, but
most of them sound pretty interchangeable. There are standard little
rhythmic ideas with punctuated low string sounding chords -- lots of
little motivic loops that are all but required by this sub-genre.
If you enjoy a more drum-heavy, rock sound you will be more than happy
listening to much of this disc. Most of the time, I waited patiently
for something...anything to happen. At best, the score sounds like
something out of the early Media Ventures days. Again, the music may be
a step above the standard pulsating noise that accompanies some game
play, but it does not have musicality enough to truly stand on its own.
Then again, perhaps it was never intended to do so.
Headhunter/Headhunter Redemption ****
La-La Land 1023
Headhunter: Redemption (Disc One): 26 tracks - 66:44
Headhunter (Disc Two): 22 tracks - 66:19
Early in 2004 La-La Land released Michael Giacchino's Secret Weapons Over Normandy, which
I really enjoyed. Now they have released another eagerly awaited
video-game soundtrack in their ever growing catalogue, this time from
the Headhunter series.
Richard Jacques is fast becoming a well-respected name in the video
game industry with his bar-raising work on Headhunter, for which he received
the 2002 Game Audio Network Guild Recognition Award at the Game
Developer's Conference in March 2003. Game Industry News nominated Headhunter for their 2002
Soundtrack of the Year. This two-disc collection features the score
from the original video game and the score for the newest game release
in the series.
I'll start with the second disc, which is devoted to music from Headhunter (2002). This score is
noted for being one of the first to use a world-class recording studio
along with an orchestra more noted for its work in the film world. The
music here is a delightful mix of action cues and wonderful lyrical
reposes. The music of "Jack's Theme" is as good as Arnold's
contributions to the recent Bond scores. There are a lot of orchestral
details in this track. It features a kind of pop Baroque orchestral
sound, a little techno beat, some great string writing, and an extra
flute line that floats above and around the music.
The opening of Headhunter: Redemption
features a brooding horn solo that recaps the primary thematic idea of
the earlier score. The synthetic sound reproduction here is
unbelievable, and, to the credit of the production, a list of the
samples used in the score is provided. Even though a "live" orchestra
is not used, one would be hard pressed to figure that out on their own
in many of the tracks. The music has more electronic additions than the
previous score utilized in a way that is again well-integrated into the
overall sound of the music. "MIG Encounter" has perhaps the most
"game-ish" sound of the lot, but even this is far superior to similar
Highly recommended for fans of this genre, though sitting through both
discs in a row may not be the best way to enjoy them. The album can be
ordered from a number of outlets including the label's site www.lalalandrecords.com. You
can learn more about the composer at his website www.richardjacques.co.uk.