I have been collecting film music for many years now, in fact too many years I think at times, but in the 5 decades that I have been adding soundtracks to my collection I have seen many composers come and go and many genres come into fashion and go out as quickly as they arrived. However as a collector of music for film I suppose nowadays we have to include music not only for TV and motion pictures but also music for video games etc, many collectors of soundtracks do I know dismiss the medium of video or computer games, but when you investigate and explore the music for these games they are in fact movie scores, and many of them are grand and symphonic and have to them a fully lush symphonic sound. I decided that I would start to explore these scores more and have had some wonderful listening experiences doing so. I think the first game score I fully appreciated was CASTELVANIA as it was so atmospheric and was a soundtrack of powerful and epic proportions, it also contained themes, which is something that is discussed a great deal these days amongst film music fans, or at least the lack of said themes in movie scores.
Maybe composers have become to reliant upon the synthetic and sample options and because of budget in many cases directors and other film makers go for a slightly cheaper way of getting the music or the sounds that they want for their movies. However, I was told many years ago by Maurice Jarre that a synth score can at times be more expensive route than a conventional soundtrack. I recently went online and just randomly selected a couple of video game scores, which I am pleased to say turned out to be first class choices, these were both from the WITCHER 3 series of games which contain some of the earthiest and near operatic sounding scores that I have heard in a while. So, where better to start than WITCHER 3-BLOOD AND WINE which was released in 2016. My initial thoughts on this score were it could be Woljeich Kilar but written in a more contemporary style, it is epic and powerful driving and commanding and the main parts of the score are by Polish born composer, Marcin Przybylowicz with contributions from Mikolai Stroinski and Piotri Musial, the collaboration obviously works because the music is constantly good throughout and the style to is similar each cue complimenting the other.
The use of solo vocals both performing songs or performing wordless and soaring passages within the score is stunning and gritty making them a compelling listen, add to this creative use of percussive elements driving strings and powerful utilisation of brass’s woods and choir and we have the makings of an inventive and innovative sounding work that would certainly not be out of place in any block buster movie. The composer or composers also throw into the mix ethnic instrumentation which adds another dimension and gives the score a more depth and credibility.
BLOOD RUN (track number 4) is a favourite of mine, and although brief it has an unworldly quality that evokes memories of Kilar’s DRACULA score the dark and the light textures fusing becoming one eventually to purvey an atmosphere that is filled with tension and apprehension but underlined with a sense of melancholy and romanticism. Then we move to track number 6, I CANNOT LET YOU LEAVE which could be out of a Morricone western score from the 1970.s forthright percussion and sharp dark string stabs act as a background to chanting female voices that create an affective piece that stands out. The score also has some less upfront pieces within its running time and again the use of wordless female vocalising and lush strings in track number 7, THE BANKS OF SANSRETOUR, for example is breath-taking. The cue being melodic fully romantic. This is a score you must check out, NO, this is a score that you must own. The only thing is if you add this to your collection, you will after listening to it be craving more of the same, so why not also investigate, THE WITCHER 3- WILD HUNT, which is a score that is of equal stature and quality, again the work of more than one composer which with video game scores can be the norm.
This is a more vocal score as in choir and solo performances which are given centre stage and surrounded by thundering percussion, dark and ominous strings and raw and rasping brass. There are however softer moments which although fleeting are beautiful and haunting, these have a richness and dark lavish sweeping persona that again command that you stop and take notice, the composers utilising low strings and sorrowful cello to infuse a sense of melancholy and loneliness, these two scores will I think keep any discerning film music collector happy and occupied for many a day, each time one takes a listen you find little pieces that maybe were not there before or if they were you did not hear them. These are scores of a high quality and works that are incredibly potent. I dare anyone who listens to them not to be impressed. Recommended.