My Favourite Video Game Soundtracks - Part 5
In this blog series, I've been delving into video game music I have discovered and enjoyed listening to so much that they have inspired my own music producing, highlighting certain songs in particular. The previous blogs have covered a few Assassin's Creed games at a time and it was my intention to continue this structure. These next three video games, though, are massive and, having spent more time completing them, I seem to have a lot of favourites in each soundtrack. So, this week we're exploring Origins score.
ASSASSIN'S CREED ORIGINS - LOTS OF SAND
The first of the newly designed games to take on the role-playing genre, we're sent back to a time in Egypt where Caesar and Cleopatra plot to take the Alexandrian throne from Ptolemy XIII. Sarah Schachner is back to compose the music, after her success with Unity, and this time she has the whole soundtrack to herself. In fact, not only did she produce the music, she performed it all as well.
Because of the setting, Schachner decided to use ouds, lyres, rattles, animal-hide drums, and other authentic musical instruments that may have been used at the time (historians don't really know). At the same time, because of the video game series' science-fiction elements, Schachner also used synths from a CS-80; creating some incredible hybrid tracks. Along with Unity, this is one of my favourite soundtracks of the series, with so many strong songs I thoroughly enjoy listening to.
Okay, so we all know the drill here; the opening theme is amazing. This is another contender for top position as the way Schachner interweaves the instruments, vocals, and synths here is simply fantastic. Again, motifs are taken from this theme and used throughout the soundtrack but it seems that almost every one of the songs little sections are repeated at some point in the score, making this the most reused of all the main themes I've listened to in this video game series.
'Shimmering Sands' opens with string drones and dark synth pads, creating an ominous and mysterious soundscape fit for an expansive desert. When the percussion and vocals come in, more string layers are added; you really get a sense of the oppressive nature of this dry world but here and there are bits of wonder and intrigue. It's a great showcase of Schachner's ability to blend real and synthesized instruments.
'Fire In The Duat' would always play when your character is looking for clues or sneaking around and, I have to say, I spent more time doing these things simply to listen to this song. It's mostly synthesizers with strings and percussion here and there, creating a mellow sound but I really enjoy listening to the quick synth glissandos heard in the final quarter of the song, which bring out the sci-fi mystery elements of the game.
'Winds Of Cyrene' is perhaps my favourite on the whole album. The lute arpeggios and calming ambience is just amazing. The best bit happens in the final part of the song, however, when the bells come in with their pleasant melody, underlined by electric guitar, synths and strings. It is just beautiful and you only hear it in-game at certain points. I even went so far as to create my own version with just these last 20 seconds looped over and over; that's how much I enjoy hearing it.
'I Walk On Your Water' is a more intense track compared to the previous ones I've mentioned so far but I really like the main synthesised string motif heard throughout. The way Schachner underlines it with percussive and synthesized harmony is great and really gets the blood pumping.
'Nomads Of The White Desert' uses a distorted-sounding lute playing an upbeat folky motif that then makes way for calmer vocals and then flutters in and out during the rest of the song as the percussion comes in. It's quite a mesmerising song with more vocal ideas reappearing here and there. In a way, it reminds me of the way Jesper Kyd used vocals in the first soundtracks.
While 'The Alexandrian Pleiad' isn't one of my top tracks from the album, I do love the final part of the song. The vocals here, sung against the lute arpeggio passages, are beautiful. When this part of the song would play in-game, I would stop and admire the landscapes I was seeing.
'A Divided Land' is another calming exploration track with vocals, strings, guitar, and synths all dancing slowly around each other in an almost sad and nostalgic tonality that creates an ethereal atmosphere. Alongside this, 'Ptolemy's Lament', the next track on the album is full of ever-changing themes of reflection that are heard throughout the video game as you explore the incredible landscape. My personal favourite of these is towards the end when there's a surge of synth pad.
'Moonlight On The Nile' is another of my personal favourites from this soundtrack. If you've been listening along with me, you'll have noticed that I love the slower, more contemplative, ambient tracks and this is no exception, Schachner makes the most of her vocals here too.
To cap it all off, the final track, 'Ezio's Family', is obviously (based on the title) a new version of the classic song of the same name from Assassin' Creed 2. This time, we're treated to an Egyptian version, Schachner using all these fantastic musical instruments from the soundtrack to create one of the best variations of this track (I'm sure I've said that of another version in a previous blog).
Based on the amount of songs I've mentioned from this score, it's quite obvious this is one of my favourites, not only the game music but the video game as well; they complement each other so well. In the next blog we're off to ancient Greece for a great odyssey. P.S. If you are looking for a music theory, music production, or music composition teacher near you, I offer face-to-face music lessons in Wells, UK and online music lessons to anyone worldwide. I also have 1000+ royalty-free stock music production tracks available to buy and am available for hire for original music compositions. Feel free to get in touch!