Как говорит Олег Кашин, «а почитайте свежего меня!». На самом деле не только меня, "50+ главных саундтреков 2012" писали семь человек — текст очень большой. В этом году мы публиковали материал по частям четыре недели (отчасти из-за особо любознательных товарищей, проматывающих текст, чтобы сразу посмотреть победителя), а ещё дико заморочились с крутой вёрсткой. Правда, большие тексты в интернете всё равно никто не читает, поэтому мы все писали из доброй традиции и для поддержания статуса, так сказать.
В ходе долгих поисков и изнурительного мозгового штурма редакция Game-OST.ru выбрала чуть больше полусотни значимых и интересных игровых саундтреков минувшего года. 2012-й был непростым и, можно сказать первым переходным годом: в ожидании консолей нового поколения крупные издатели стараются придержать важные проекты на будущее. Потребитель же снова выбирает лишь уже известные игровые сериалы, поэтому не удивляйтесь такому количеству сиквелов в нашем рейтинге.
Mike Drazka - Songs from the Asylum |self-released, 2012| 4/4
01. The Awakening , 02. Angels Of War, 03. The Nightmare, 04. Black River, 05. Sucker Punch, 06. Crown Of Thorns, 07. Path of Destruction
Mike Drazka is an American songwriter and self taught multi-instrumentalist who has already placed his music into various forms of visual media such as TV, radio and internet multimedia sources including Oxygen Network, News12 Networks, MSG Networks and The Motion Picture Association of America with the award winning documentary Flight 587. His Songs from the Asylum album brings seven instrumental tracks that could be easily utilized in action video games as well as movies.
The album begins with "The Awakening" which brings orchestrated rock sounds spiced up with electronica. It would be perfect if Mike hired a metal genre female singer to add vocals to it. The compositional aspects of the song are built on verses and choruses with cumulative moments and spots where a listener's brain can relax as well. Arrangements which have been written for guitars, bass, drums and keyboards have resulted in a cool rock track that has a chance for hit potential despite missing vocals.
"Angels of War" is a heavy track due to its looped guitar riffs and sampling. Atmospheric parts in the background based on angel-esque voices and violins are interlaced with the main theme. On the other hand, "The Nightmare" has an intro that consist of brooding metal bass lines and drums which are joined by noisy guitars and cut with a synthesizer sometimes too. This would be also a perfect song to have male rock vocals added that could intensify the track and add a remarkable aspect. Overall, the dark and heavy moods sound as if they smuggled a nightmare into an asylum.
Creative noise opens the fourth song on the tracklist called "Black River", which I personally find one of the best compositions on this album along with "Crown of Thorns" and "Sucker Punch". "Black River" sounds powerful due to chunky guitars joined by keyboards while the drum beat builds the structure of the song. An unforgettable and ear-friendly guitar motif that appears in segments of the song may also steal your heart. Moreover, the guitar tracks act as a surrogate to vocal parts which makes a listener take no notice that the song is missing a vocalist. The composition flows quite stable and the arrangements match one another well. "Black River" is as full of dynamics as it is memorable, this is thanks to Mike's great songwriting and sound design skills.
Mike Drazka wrote and played each instrument on every song except for two. You can hear very heavy metal, yet distorted riffs played by American guitarist Frank Guertin as well as the drum beats by Russ Miller in "Sucker Punch" and "Crown of Thorns". The first of the two, “Sucker Punch”, is a track where heavy metal collides with electronica. Hardcore riffs lead the song over backgrounds which feature drums, bass and rhythm guitars, but electronic effects and sampling appear in some spots too. This track would be a great fit to an action movie trailer since it can underline specific scenes and moods very well. "Crown of Thorns" turns out quite short (less than 3 minutes), though it is fully dominated by deep tribal drum beats. The initial mixture of Mike's concept of synths and silence gave me a flashback of Harold Faltermeyer's compositions. The intro may be a bit too long, but the track continuously evolves. However, if the purpose of the song was to be background music for a presentation or a video game with a few images slid into the beginning, the length of the intro would make a perfect sense.
"Path of Destruction" finishes the Songs from the Asylum album. It seems to utilize the same ideas as are found in "Crown of Thorns" (the length of intro) in the beginning, but the overall vibe is more electronic and noisy than in the previous songs. There are some guitar riffs involved, although it seems like they were processed through a digital sequencer.
Well designed music doubles the joy of playing video games as well as watching movies. Images and motion do speak directly, yet they become harsh without matching music. Some game designers and movie directors have awesome works in progress, but they are missing music that can emphasize their work to a maximum dynamic effect. Mike has an excellent set of songs which would match any type of 'action' motion picture or video game due to their climactic guitar driven instrumental themes. It would be great if Mike had a chance to collaborate with such professionals as mentioned above to utilize his music in their productions and allow for visually stunning multimedia. Hopefully some professionals who are in the gaming and film industries may find Mike Drazka thanks to this review and begin a creative and successful collaboration together.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, June 11th, 2012)
Testimonials Quoth Mike Drazka: Thank you sooo much for the fantastic review! It is very honest and well written. I agree with you that some of the tracks would work really well with a vocalist. Unfortunately I don't sing and I didn't want to ruin a good song with bad vocals. If you happen to know any singers who might be interested in collaborating please let me know. (June 18, 2012)
She was a young sensitive being who devoted herself to a man she literally loved to death. However, her jealous father couldn't stand the way his beautiful daughter was looking at her lover. He hated every minute she was spending with this stranger to a point where a horrific plan was born into his mind. Her father became convinced that he must stop their suffering. The girl returned soon after this wicked revelation. A shaking shadow had been seen in the corner of the room where her father had been locking her up... and where he killed her. None of this could make her stop seeing her lover. She was shifting along with the warm summer air in the garden after dusk; where she kissed her man the very first time. A murky glance in his eyes had already told her there would be a dark secret to keep. She thought she could deal with it because the power of their love could protect them from any disaster.
The above script is a fictional story. When you look at the cover art of this release you'll see an exhausted young girl who's laying naked on the floor of an abandoned room. A dark image that illustrates the idea behind this concept EP very well. A fictional character named Felicity is the focal point of this album. She was once killed, but now returns as a ghost to tell the story of her tragic love through four symphonic metal songs.
"This Divine Tragedy" is song number 3 on the tracklist. It begins with an instrumental introduction that would perfectly match an RPG fantasy video game such as Skyrim, Witcher or World of Warcraft. Personally, I wouldn't mind if the entire song was a continuation of the intro. After such a magical beginning, the composition brings angelic female voices and chunky guitars that are accompanied by bass and drums. The track also includes a guitar solo near the end of the song while keyboards and a violin occasionally interlace with the arrangements. We're not talking about songwriting aspects that comprise the fury of a storm here, but compositional structures that are built in a safe way that avoids deviation.
On the other hand, the song is surprisingly short and lasts less than 4 minutes. For such an orientation of orchestral arrangements, "This Divine Tragedy" could have been extended in a manner that would be fitting to tease with a listener's emotions. This could be done by building specific moods that rely on ascending peaks and descending hollows which lead to accumulative climaxes in certain segments. In fact, it would be great if Phobos Corp. could get a full symphonic orchestra to perform this track live.
Spyros Papadakis (keyboards) is the open minded leader behind Phobos Corp. He writes orchestral arrangements and mixes them with metal music. This genre has been the target of his interest since he was 12 years old, while his knowledge of compositional techniques applied to both styles of music allows him to experiment with the cross-over dynamics of the instruments. Technically speaking, he usually begins writing arrangements derived from melodies and chords, including orchestral scores for string instruments.
Spyros is a native of Greece, where he set up Phobos Corp. in 1995, but he continues to branch out to a worldwide audience in terms of musical cooperation as well as acquiring fans for support. Thus, Felicity was recorded with the help of soundtrack composers such as Jon Ong & Zach Lemmon (orchestral arrangements), Shoi Sen (guitar), Mark Jones (guitar, bass), Chris Sutherland (drums) and a professional female vocalist named Tara. The EP was mixed & mastered by British producer Dave Chang who worked with artists such as Orange Goblin, Dagoba, Earthtone9 and Stampin' Ground.
We've heard a lot about the economic disasters happening in Greece recently, so hopefully Spyros can make his ideas come to fruition while cooperating with a worldwide network. This may lead to his dream of scoring movies to come true. The band has not made plans to tour at this time since Spyros intends to release either a few more concept EPs or a full length album to have more songs for the purpose of live performances. "This Divine Tragedy" has possible hit potential, though the best chance if the track is illustrated with a matching music video or finds it's way into distribution as a song from a movie soundtrack.
(Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz, +Fabryka Music Magazine, May 31st, 2012)
Mike Drazka - Angels Of War (song review) |self-released, single, 2012| 5/5
Any music placed in video games or movies may have a better chance for exposure as well as recognition. It becomes memorable too, even though the composer stays in the shadows of the game at first. Similarly, music themes mixed with pictures and action bring far more vivid impressions in contrast to listening to a song without any additional multimedia content. Stunning, atmospheric music has enriched games such as Quake or Fallout which still inspire millions of gamers as well as fans of soundtracks, regardless of how old both of those games have become through time.
"Angels of War" is an instrumental song composed by American songwriter and self taught multi-instrumentalist Mike Drazka. He has already placed his music into various forms of visual media such as TV, radio and internet multimedia sources including Oxygen Network, News12 Networks, MSG Networks and The Motion Picture Association of America with the award winning documentary Flight 587. However, this list of successful achievements doesn't make him stop crafting the sound of his compositions even better.
This new song would be a good fit to an action movie trailer, TV series or advertisement, but placement in a video game would be an ideal match. First of all, Mike operates within several musical genres, from rock to metal through orchestral, acoustic and techno. "Angels of War" is a heavy track due to its looped guitar riffs and sampling, thus it tends to bring industrial rock and industrial metal music scenes into the limelight. Such heavy guitar driven music has been successfully utilized with a lot of video games because of fast rhythms and aggressive riffs that have the ability to change the rate of the human heartbeat so they become one with the sound (and action!). The same thing happens when music is designed to play a game of hide-and-seek with human brainwaves. For some this technique may work, for some it does not since we're talking about individual perceptions. Additionally, the rhythm of "Angels of War" is dynamic, so it makes the song promising if geared for specific types of video games that include a lot of running and jumping or similar character action.
Secondly, the song has atmospheric parts in the background based on angel-esque voices and violins that are interlaced with the main theme. This makes the format not only accessible for use with PC, Mac, Xbox and mobile platforms, but even more types of multimedia.
Finally, the composition is short (lasts slightly over 2:30 minutes), sleek and tight, yet powerful at the same time which glues the guitar and drums together based on the overall arrangements. This molds the song into one wisely composed soundtrack.
If you are in search of hiring a sound designer to create some interesting themes for your documentaries, performances, presentations, computer or mobile video games, ads as well as multimedia website content, then you should contact Mike Drazka since his musical and technical skills seem to fit this position very well.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, May 15th, 2012)
------------ Testimonials Thank you so much for the great review. You really went above and beyond reviewing the song. Everything is correct in it. I have an album that I'm hoping to release in the next 3 weeks or so. I would love to have you do a review of it. It has the song "Angels of War" on it and the other songs are similar in that style. I will be sure to tell people about you, the magazine and your reviews. Thank you again. Mike Drazka | 16.05.2012 |
Cult progressive film composer Clint Mansell, who’s participate in composing music to all five motion pictures of modern classic Darren Aranofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler and a fresh Black Swan with Natalie Portman), the movie adaptation of video game Doom , the soundtrack to the criminal thriller Smokin 'Aces and the independent science fiction film The Moon, is currently working on Mass Effect 3, one of the most anticipated videogame this year. Composer casually mentioned Mass Effect 3 in an interview published today to the big blog The Quietus.
The Machinarium soundtrack is an extraordinary work, it has just appeared but it has already become classics. It’s like Peter McConnell’s music from the best games by LucasArts, like Terry Taylor’s immortal projects for The Neverhood and Skullmonkeys, like sound illustrations by Daniel Pemberton for Little Big Planet. The distinctive feature of Machinarium is not just in the fact that with all the variety of music sub-genres these tracks never disharmonize but also in providing a full immersion in the game world – you start to believe irrevocably in a musical world created by Dvorak as a part of a graphic universe of Dvorsky.
Video game music concerts have become a bit of a tradition in Sweden. Stockholm's Konserthuset venue has repeatedly hosted the PLAY! A Video Game Symphony and Distant Worlds - Music from Fantasy concerts, has witnessed the recording of the orchestral Distant Worlds CD, and has welcomed game music celebrities like Nobuo Uematsu, Akira Yamaoka, and Chris Hülsbeck.
On August 4th, this legacy continued. Yoko Shimomura, whose visit to the Swedish capital was part of her first official trip to Europe, joined the ranks of legendary Konserthuset guests; Chris Hülsbeck, a composer who has made a huge impact on the Commodore 64 and Amiga music scene, also arrived in Stockholm the same day. Both composers had good reason to be in Sweden this evening — the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ensemblen & Stockholm Singers, and the famed conductor Arnie Roth joined forces, once again, to play a one-of-a-kind show. Entitled 'Sinfonia Drammatica', this event was created to connect Eastern and Western game music styles together, and promote both genres in a single show. The show's creators decided that presenting Shimomura's and Hülsbeck's creations was the best way to achieve this goal. This proved to be a good decision, as the composers' works play off of each other nicely, and their great fame in the game music world means a built-in audience of interested fans.
Sinfonia Drammatica was an experiment built on the worldwide success of two orchestral game music albums: Drammatica - The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura and Symphonic Shades - Hülsbeck in Concert. Both CDs summed up the decades-long game music careers of Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Mana, Live a Live) and Hülsbeck (Great Giana Sisters, Turrican, Apidya). Their most beloved tracks were reimagined through full orchestral arrangements, recorded by top musicians, and released on these memorial albums. We probably wouldn't have received such high quality compilations if producer Thomas Böcker hadn't infected classically-trained Finnish arranger Jonne Valtonen with a strong passion for game music, and recruited Arnie Roth (aka Maestro Video Game Music), who's always ready for new challenges.
As a result of this collaboration, a large amount of material was written. So when Konserthuset's director Stefan Forsberg suggested a new game music show this year in Sweden, the choice of repertoire was a formality. Open-minded about new arrangements and styles, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra agreed to take this challenge. Arnie Roth reprised his role as musical director, and the project began. Initial information about the concert was released to the media in March, and the concert programme was even published. This setlist was arranged to alternate catchy Western game melodies with atmospheric, magical Japanese game music tracks. Additionally, musicians prepared a surprise encore — a track that had never been performed live in Europe before. Which track was this? Don't worry — you'll find out soon enough!
We (Kamil Rojek and Mariusz Borkowski) arrived in Stockholm as a two person squad, intent on representing the only Polish media outlet — GameMusic.pl. On the day of the concert, the Konserthuset Philharmonic was decorated by sponsors' banners and a big poster that promoted the impending event. Outside the venue's main doors, tracks from the Drammatica and Symphonic Shades albums played through a set of speakers. Inside the building, we found promo leaflets about the evening's special guests (prepared and edited by our colleague Johan Köhn, from spelmusik.net) and poster displays, the same designs as the ones that blanketed the city.
We spent a few hours inside the venue before the concert began, where we conducted a few short interviews with the show's big names — Yoko Shimumora, Chris Hülsbeck, and Arnie Roth. To our pleasure, our subjects found our prepared questions interesting, and drew attention to their uniqueness. Because we had limited time, though, we had to skip many of our questions. However, the artists asked us to send the rest of the questions via email, so that we could create a more complete chat transcript for GameMusic.pl. After three interesting and congenial meetings, we joined the crowd that was forming in front of the Konserthuset. We then entered the lobby, where we gathered and waited for the concert hall's doors to open. Any fan waiting here had the opportunity to purchase Drammatica, Symphonic Shades, or Distant Worlds at a very affordable price of 150 SEK.
Finally, the door to the concert hall was unlocked and opened, and the public — hungry for musical rapture — poured inside. The ravenous fans filled the venue, taking all of the seats, in only a couple of minutes. In the meantime, Yoko Shimomura, Chris Hülsbeck, Thomas Böcker, and Mrs. Böcker sneaked inside, unnoticed, and took their seats in the center of the room. The orchestra and choir then walked onto the stage. Stefan Forsberg followed, and announced maestro Arnie Roth. After this activity, the first part of the concert began. From time to time, between the suites, Arnie exhorted the audience for applause to honour the special guests.
During the first half of the show, Roth conducted eight arrangements. These performances, due to the vibrancy of the instruments, invoked a full array of colors, spreading throughout the sumptuous hall of the Swedish Philharmony. The orchestra put a great deal of effort into performing the X-Out and Gem'X suites as similarly to the Symphonic Shades recordings as possible. X-Out featured the familiar ambient sounds inspired by submarines, while Gem'X's minimalist arrangement was truly captivating. "The Other Promise," from Kingdom Hearts, was another remarkable arrangement, as Stefan Lindrgen's subtle grand piano melodies skillfully built a nostalgic fantasy vibe. However, the strongest point of the concert's first half was definitely the dynamic "Colored Earth," from the Legend of Mana soundtrack. The whole orchestra, especially Joakim Svenheden — who played the first violin — did all they could do to make this theme memorable, especially for Yoko Shimomura fans. Even Yoko herself seemed to be satisfied with such an expressive and rousing performance of her work.
After the 15 minute intermission, it was time for the second part of the concert. The show's last half was packed with the evening's most famous melodies. It's hard to find the right words to express the feelings that The Great Giana Sisters evokes in a Commodore 64 player. 16 years ago, I played this title constantly, even mastering it to the point where I could finish the entire game without losing a single 'life'. Back then, I never would've imagined that I would someday listen to its music at a professional concert, and hear the tunes played by a full orchestra. The game itself was unremarkable — just another Super Mario Bros clone — but the soundtrack was the game's true attraction. Today, not only was I able to witness the revival of this great melody, but I had been able to speak with its creator Chris Hülsbeck before the show.
Another strong point of the concert, the regal "Destati", was full of spectacular choral renditions by the Ensemblen & Stockholm Singers. After this track, the first notes of "Hometown Domina" resounded. The pieces composed as background music for J-RPG game locations are usually relaxing tunes, and those meant to accompany the exploration of a character's homeland often have particularly soothing undertones. The performance of "Hometown Domina" painted a colorful picture of the Legend of Mana homeworld in listeners' minds, and the feeling of carefreeness and safety seemed to hang in the air. Suddenly, I realized there was only one track left in the concert. It was the renderings of the main theme for Turrican II The Final Fight, a piano concertino spanning almost 10 minutes. Stefan Lindrgen fully demonstrated his virtuosity, faultlessly performing the track's numerous piano segments. But the final showdown was yet to come...
The standing ovations seemed to be endless. After a few minutes of applause, Arnie Roth came back on the stage and announced an encore, stressing that it would definitely be the last theme of the evening. He then said he had always wanted to conduct an orchestra in performing "Fantasia alla Marcia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra," a piece known simply as "Fantasia". This medley, which combines the most significant tracks from Kingdom Hearts series, fit into the Sinfonia Drammatica's musical frame well, and its strong melodic character summed up the entire video game music evening in Konserthuset Hall. Soon after this last track ended, Yoko Shimomura and Chris Hülsbeck appeared onstage and received a bouquet of flowers, while the audience continued applauding. They left the stage, but a couple of minutes later, they were forced to reemerge — this large group of video game music fans were not going to leave the building without seeing more than a fleeting glimpse of the composers!
When both composers finally disappeared behind curtains, and the lights switched off, some concert attendees purchased tickets for the post-show meet and greet event, while the rest left the venue in a sparkling mood. It was well after 10 PM, so we headed toward the exit as well. While leaving the venue, we received leaflets inviting us to the upcoming Symphonic Fantasies show, scheduled for September 12th in Cologne. This show is slated to be the biggest video game music fest in Europe ever. We'll definitely attend and review the event, simultaneously at SEMO and GameMusic.pl.
Videos and images published with the permission of Thomas Böcker. Special thanks to Ronnie Schmidt for all his priceless help that led to our trip to Stockholm.
The intro to this article can be found here while the text itself has been published here.