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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Video Game) by Winifred Phillips

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Video Game)

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Video Game) (Soundtrack) by Winifred Phillips
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Video Game) (Soundtrack) by Winifred Phillips

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Video Game)
Composed by Winifred Phillips
Water Tower Music (2010)

Rating: 7/10

 Buy Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Video Game) (Soundtrack)  by Winifred Phillips from iTunes

 

“So long as you’re not expecting a memorable theme or any particularly innovative orchestral maneuvers, WINIFRED PHILLIPS’ work on LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS offers a wholly appropriate and mostly entertaining accompaniment to the story of the owls in the game.”

With Notes Sublime
Review by Marius Masalar

Though she may not be a common household name just yet, WINIFRED PHILLIPS is no stranger to critical acclaim. And this year, she’s finally walking away from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards with a win. In 2008 and 2009 she was a finalist for Best Original Score in a Video Game, and now she’s just taken home Best Song in a Video Game for one of the tunes in her score for LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE. Based, of course, on the film, the game earned mediocre reviews from critics (as one unfortunately comes to expect from these quick tie-in titles), though the score at least has managed to attract more attention after a generous 53 minute release on iTunes.

Following PHILLIPS “Into the Darkness” (1), we learn that the score follows only lightly in the footsteps of David Hirschfelder’s score for the film, tending more toward a percussive, punchier orchestral writing that’s common to the modern media music landscape. No catchy theme is introduced in this first track, but a strong sound palette is established. “With Hearts Sublime” (2) is the award-winning track of the album, and it is certainly a very attractive piece of music with swirling harp arpeggios and soft strings beneath the haunting vocals. It reminds of the music of Enya and some of the songs from the Lord of the Rings, though it tends a bit more toward the generic.

“Eyes in the Night” (3) unleashes some stirring action, but uplifting harmonic progressions keep our chins up and hearts soaring as the percussion beats out a steady rhythm beneath the brass stabs. Probably the strongest track in the album’s opening segment is “The Gathering” (4). This magnificent and sensitive cue is both dramatic and thematic, and the gorgeous woodwind solos weaving in and out are a treat to listen to. The tempo rises again with “Take Flight” (5), a track that begins on a tense note but soon gives way to playful and bouncy figures in the strings and woodwinds.

Percussion takes over during “Attack At Dawn” (6), which carries the anxious mood without offering much else. “Deadly Plan” (7) is sneaky, with quiet woodwinds tiptoeing around a menacing percussive rhythm. It isn’t until “Nightmare” (8) that a choir appears in the score, and it’s worth the wait. Beginning with unsettling dissonances and continuing with cinematic choral chants, this track is not only rousing but also satisfying in length, clocking in among the album’s longest. The development is a bit static, but for a gameplay cue it does its job. “The Shape of the Wind” (9) returns to the noble drama of the 4th track, but there’s an undercurrent of worry now, and “Wild Fire” (10) describes it further with its wild woodwind rips and nervous strings whirling over a bed of more taikos. It’s an extremely fun piece, so while it doesn’t say much musically, it makes for a strong boost of energy around the album’s midpoint.

There’s mystery afoot in “Legends” (11), and the somber uncertainty remains in place in “Devil’s Triangle” (12), though this latter track escalates into a threatening atmosphere before relenting. The choir returns to provide some texture in “The Seekers” (13), an otherwise unremarkable cue until it passes the halfway point where it becomes a noble thematic call. Broad brass chords and chugging strings in “To Right All Wrongs” (14) lay down a propulsive bed, further augmented by the omnipresent drums and yet still mostly devoid of personality. Thankfully, that problem is quickly solved in the misty, evocative, and utterly beautiful textures of “The Fallen (15). Exotic bells, airy woodwinds, glistening harps, and ethereal chanting from the choirs combine to produce a truly gorgeous background cue.

The album’s final stretch includes an obligatory final confrontation cue, “The Siege” (16). PHILLIPS has done a good job of planning the emotional range of her score, because this penultimate burst of action scoring truly feels grander than those that came before it, more significant. It also leads beautifully into “The Guardians” (17), which finally offers us a strong set of thematic statements. I’m still not sure that fans of motivic scores will walk away humming something in particular, but at the very least they’ll have some material to remember the score by. Either way, the album’s last and longest track is a strong and worthy finish to a generally satisfying listening experience.

While I understand limited budgets, I can’t help but poke the pink elephant in the album and mention the unfortunate lapses in quality when it comes to the production side of things. While most of the sampled instruments manage to sneak past all but the most discerning of ears, the brass is positively unconvincing and betrays the mostly synthetic nature of the score more blatantly than I would have expected, especially given the talent of the composer. Nevertheless, if you can forgive that unfortunate fact then there is some great material to be heard in here.

So long as you’re not expecting a memorable theme or any particularly innovative orchestral maneuvers, WINIFRED PHILLIPS’ work on LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS offers a wholly appropriate and mostly entertaining accompaniment to the story of the owls in the game.

 

Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Into the Blackness 3:17  ***
2 With Hearts Sublme 2:18  *****
3 Eyes in the Night 2:22  ****
4 The Gathering 2:44  *****
5 Take Flight 2:36  ****
6 Attack at Dawn 2:12  **
7 Deadly Plan 3:13  ***
8 Nightmare 4:27  *****
9 The Shape of the Wind 2:59  ****
10 Wild Fire 2:10  ****
11 Legends 2:54  *****
12 Devil's Triangle 3:24  ****
13 The Seekers 4:25  ***
14 To Right All Wrongs 2:36  **
15 The Fallen 3:50  *****
16 The Siege 2:39  ****
17 The Guardians 5:12  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 53 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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