Ten Tracks Today – Best of 2011? Special #2 – 6th December 2011

01 – “Wickie auf Grosser Fahrt” – Vicky and The Treasure of the GodsRalf Wengenmayr, Nik Reich & Jaro Messerschmidt

This is a sprite little number starting off with what sounds like a piccolo. The track features quite a catchy fanfare before settling down to a sweeping string passage mid-cue that gives the impression of some seafaring epic. The track sometimes sails close to the wind (excuse the pun) sometimes and almost becomes too light-hearted and “kiddie” for my ageing preferences.

02 – “We Will Be Laotong” – Snow Flower and The Secret FanRachel Portman

This is such a lovely track, beginning as it does with a very tender solo piano before there’s the introduction of delicate strings. Portman’s integration of ethnic instruments with the strings works really well. There’s just enough of foreign colours to give a sense of place but to retain the western styling to enhance the feeling in the piece.

03 – “Answering The Call” – EA Sports NCAA Football 12Colin O’Malley

Typical American sports fanfares to start off this track. There’s something about the mix of brass and percussion rhythms (all synth?) that appeals to my sensibilities and this score as a whole (though short in length) delivers. And this cue in particular highlights all the positives.

04 – “A Hero’s Legacy” – Warhammer 40,000: Space MarineCris Velasco & Sascha Dikiciyan

This is such an epic track (from a very enjoyable game soundtrack). Bold and dramatic brass exchange space with emotional solo strings, which is peppered with grand choral touches…it’s all there. There is a definite feel of things like Zimmer’s Inception/The Dark Knight and, I suppose, Jablonsky’s Transformers score. But that’s not a bad thing in my book.

05 – “High Over Cumbria” – The AwakeningDaniel Pemberton

A sub-minute track this one but it does a good job of grabbing the attention and holding it for the duration. An infectious string ostinato is the basis of this track and the addition of eerie choral support makes for a good track – for a great score.

06 – “Dark Side of The Moon” – Transformers: Dark of The MoonSteve Jablonsky

And here’s the Real McCoy! All you would expect from a Remote Control title: bold brass fanfares, string-dominated lines and pounding percussion. It’s not quiet and it’s not subtle, but my goodness it is a good listen. The second and third scores for the franchise reach the heights only when the original themes are featured. Not much of that in this track.

07 – “Science and Magic” – Uncharted 3: Drake’s DeceptionGreg Edmondson

Ethnic female vocals as well as ethnic rhythms and orchestrations place this game squarely “abroad”. The various mix of percussion and hammered dulcimer, together with the strings (and guitar?) works really well. It all produces a catchy track – hence it’s on my favourites list for 2011.

08 – “The Portal” – Terra NovaBrian Tyler

I haven’t seen this show, but anything composed by Brian Tyler is worth listening to. His full-on adrenaline style is toned down for this track. There is a significant percussion rhythm that propels the track forward but this is softened by some grand choral work (though, to me, it sounds as though the choral part is synth – and maybe even a significant portion of the orchestral parts). It all makes for some sweeping vistas.

09 – “Road Trip Number 2” – PaulDavid Arnold

I have a love-hate relationship with the harmonica that I suppose revolves around how the instrument is used in a score and what sort of melody is featured. The track as a whole is a very light affair and it’s the use of the harmonica that really cements this sound. Then mid-way through the track it all goes Murray Gold/Dr Who-y – electric guitar and strings and brass ostinatos beating out a rhythm – before the buddy-buddy harmonica returns to end the track.

10 – “Lake House” – BeastlyMarcelo Zarvos

“Lake House” is nice and light: jaunty strings and a comforting piano line all reinforce a safe and secure sort of feeling. This track appears quite early on in the score (and the film?) so it is obvious that things have not yet taken a “turn for the worse”. But it is bound to happen…

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