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Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales by Yury Poteyenko

Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales

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Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales (Soundtrack) by Yury Poteyenko
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales (Soundtrack) by Yury Poteyenko

Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales
Composed by Yury Poteyenko
KeepMoving Records (2005)

Rating: 7/10

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“The latest in the series, AGE OF PIRATES: CARIBBEAN TALES, is a pleasure to listen to, though its appeal may vary depending on your tolerance for non-standard western moods.”

Fair Seas
Review by Marius Masalar

It’s probably fair to say that not many of you are familiar with too many of Akella Interactive’s games. The Russian company, while prolific, has not yet enjoyed a huge surge of attention in the west, and as a result some truly interesting titles have escaped the notice of many folks on this side of the ocean. Ironically, oceans have come closest to bridging this gap, as the titles that you probably are familiar with come from the SEA DOGS series, published by Bethesda Software, who you recall because of the ELDER SCROLLS series. Clearly appreciators of the organic touch, Akella have furnished both games in the SEA DOGS series with a fully orchestral score, and YURY POTEYENKO is responsible for both of them — for some perspective, not even MORROWIND, which was released shortly after the first SEA DOGS, was granted a live orchestra.

The latest in the series, AGE OF PIRATES: CARIBBEAN TALES, is a pleasure to listen to, though its appeal may vary depending on your tolerance for non-standard western moods. It is, you see, a very subdued score for the most part.

Emerging from the mists of the sea, “Hymn of Corsairs (Main Theme)” (1) gently rocks out a main motif. It is simple, but features a lilting horn counterpart that helps balance it out and make it stronger. Sadly, this main theme lacks the overwhelmingly memorable theme from the first game, choosing instead one of the smaller themes to reprise and build on. A pity, but not a deal-breaker. Those horns are back in the forefront for “Caribbean Archipelago” (2), where they offer another calling of nobility. Gentle string and woodwind rumblings offset the powerful brass, and the relative openness of the orchestration keeps the music from getting overbearing.

“Morning Breeze” (3) opens with a stirring string hymn before gradually unfolding into a huge statement of the main theme and introducing AGE OF PIRATES’ secret weapon: a large male chorus. In this track, the choir fits supremely well into the mix, but in “Fierce Close Fight” (4), the first action track, they stick out. This is largely because their tuning is sometimes quite noticeably off in the latter part of the track. We can forgive them though…they are pirates, after all, right? The track otherwise handles action well, though in a decidedly European style, without any of the electronic or percussion-led propulsion we’ve come to expect of such cues. It’s a pleasant change.

Tension never lasts long on this album though, and so we move on to the cute “Island Colony” (5), where light woodwinds dance a sprightly jig. Despite being a long track, very little in the way of development occurs; understandable considering it’s a gameplay track, but nevertheless a little detrimental to the album listening experience. If you’re doing nothing else while listening, it can get a bit dull. In the game, the main theme is tied inextricably to storms, so it’s no surprise that it shows up in “Approach of the Storm” (6), a quiet tension piece with a slow pace. It picks up past the three-minute mark, but only very briefly before crashing back down like a wave. The tension is resolved somewhat in “Mortal Combat” (7), where we re-enter combat. Fierce brass stabs tied together by an edgy trombone theme are underpinned by strong timpani rhythms and churning strings. Unfortunately, the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying, and it’s followed by an inexplicably short cue, “Life & Death” (8), that barely passes twenty seconds in length and hardly registers.

One of the score’s most charming cues follows though. “Quiet Bay” (9) opens with liberally ornamented woodwind solos trilling pleasantly over pizzicato strings. The track develops into a strong statement of the main theme and closes with the almost medieval woodwind motif. The almost oriental “Moon Way” (10) presents a soothing flute melody, echoed by the bassoons and then strings over sweet harp arpeggios. It is absolutely gorgeous and develops patiently over the track’s generous 5:15 length. Dispensing with gentleness, “To Boarding!” (11) is an aggressive call to arms, with spitting woodwinds and brass bolstered by the shouting choir. It gets the blood pumping for sure.

What becomes evident in listening to the AGE OF PIRATES score is that there isn’t much in the way of overarching development. The album doesn’t really build in any meaningful way over the course of its 16 tracks. Consequently, as we approach the end there isn’t a great sense of having made a journey to get there. In any event, the last few tracks offer some pleasant moments. “Town Life” (12) plays like an extension of “Quiet Bay” (13), albeit a less distinctive one. “Filibuster’s Revenge” (14) has an almost Spartan sound to it, and it raises the intensity beyond what we’ve encountered in any of the previous action cues.

The final three are all more peaceful and noble tracks, beginning with a beautiful motif in “Sunrise” (14) that grows in volume but otherwise remains rather strangely underdeveloped. There is, of course, a rousing return to the main theme in “Hymn of Corsairs (Storm Theme)” (15). It’s a solid reprise, though the theme still fails to evoke the same memorable quality as its predecessor from SEA DOGS. Closing with “Boundless Ocean” (16), the album saves one of its best for last. This is another rendition of the main theme, but it is a much more emotional one, with some gorgeous minor key harmonies thrown in to great effect.

The quality of the music is never in question in AGE OF PIRATES (though some of the orchestral performances occasionally betray their low budget nature), so what ultimately holds this album back from a higher score is its static nature. It never soars too high, and remains fairly flat throughout, so while the music makes for excellent and rich background stuff for gameplay, it has a hard time keeping one’s full attention outside of the game. Especially for those with ears that have been trained to appreciate a more aggressive, propulsive pace. Those who like their orchestral scores soft and contemplative will find lots to enjoy in AGE OF PIRATES, but it’s doubtful that even they will find much to draw them back for more than an occasional listen.
 

Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Hymn of Corsairs 3:56  *****
2 Caribbean Archipelago 2:55  ***
3 Morning Breeze 3:56  *****
4 Fierce Close Fight 3:04  ***
5 Island Colony 6:18  ***
6 Approach of the Storm 4:24  ***
7 Mortal Combat 2:25  ****
8 Life & Death 0:24  **
9 Quiet Bay 3:26  *****
10 Moon Way 5:15  *****
11 To Boarding 2:36  ****
12 Town Life 4:59  ***
13 Fillbuster's Revenge 3:26  ****
14 Sunrise 4:56  ****
15 Hymn of Corsairs (Storm Theme) 3:14  ****
16 Boundless Ocean 5:17  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 60 minutes  

 

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