Summer 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction – Original Soundtrack for the LucasArts Videogame  
Music composed and produced by Michael Giacchino / Chris Tilton
  “Mercenaries” theme by Michael Giacchino
Music composed by Chris Tilton
Performed by The Northwest Sinfonia
Conducted by Tim Simonec
  Available on La-La Land Records (LLLCD 1029)
Running Time: 58:38
Amazon UK   Amazon US

See also:

  • Jaws (John Williams)
  • Alias
  • Medal of Honor
  • It is a fact, that in the past decade, original music for computers and consoles’ games, has elevated from a genre of ignorant and almost pathetically mediocre, escorting music to what can be easily characterized as a very strong contestant genre to the complete Hollywood’s output, as far as original music for movie is concerned. Some of the most prolific and talented young composers have emerged from the area of game music, with vastly compelling and brilliant scores in the last years, turning the attention of film music lovers of the world towards their impressive work and names, with outstanding outputs that can easily stand against many film music works of our times. Some of them even surpassing them and Michael Giacchino is indeed one of the leading parts of this area.

    With an impressive resume that includes who has quickly, and well-worthy, arisen to very high levels of fame during the last couple of years by establishing his name in the business with highly acclaimed and successful original game scores like the MEDAL OF HONOR series, Secret weapons over Normandy, Call of duty, the highly successful, both as movie and as score, The Incredibles, Tv series Alias and Lost along with the newThe Muppets Wizard of Oz. All brilliant and original music, which attributed to him the hopes and responsibility for actually playing a very important role in the future of film music in general.

    Added to all this, is the new Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, released from LucasArts and software developers Pandemic and which is essentially a third-person combat-action game taking players into a highly troubled and chaotic North Korea of the near future.

    For the scoring duties, Michael Giacchino thankfully trusted his long-time assistant, who’s been in the background of the majority of his projects, 26-year old Louisiana-born composer Chris Tilton, with this very important project. All by actually composing the main themes suite and let Tilton handle the rest of the score. Utilizing the flawless NorthWest Sinfonia, a large choir and a number of instrumental soloists, Tilton used different and distinct musical approaches for all the situations the player faces during gameplay, according to the nations involved in each and every single military situations, notably The Allied forces (i.e. United States of America with Britain and Sweden), the usual suspects, i.e. Russian Mafia, the Chinese and the Koreans. All into a successful technique which sustains the listener’s interest throughout the whole work, keeping it organic and original.

    Dominating the score, is the heroic and huge-sounding, grand main theme, primarily consisting of five-notes, highly reminiscent of JOHN WILLIAMS’ Jaws. But to Michel Giacchino’s and especially Chris Tilton’s credit, the overall work features a distinct musical identity of their own, a more modern approach, primarily based on that very main theme along with a couple of other complementary motifs (all in various and constant variations), powerful choir work and piercing, loud brass with pulsing percussion. Along with the highly rousing and grand action music which dominates the score, some slower, subtle and sentimental string work is also present, such as the melancholic string orchestra rendition of the main theme in “For the Motherland”, in a score which highlights the tense “Mercenary Without a Cause”; “Deck of 52” ,“Honour and Strength” (with its strong Asian musical colour and influence, strongly bringing in mind Zimmer’s excellent THE LAST SAMURAI), “Hidden Valley Bunker” (with an impressive female choir work), “Explosion Scherzo”  along with “Thermal Event” and the “Countdown”, both featuring some very impressive female choir renditions of the main theme.

    Mercenaries is essentially highly spectacular, surely demanding for Tilton but at the same time-brilliant result with impressive action cues, memorable themes, excellent brass, choir and percussion combinations, very technical theme renditions and some very emotional string work. Surely a work which ensures the place of Chris Tilton among the most talented young composers and a name to watch out in the future, for sure.

    Demetris Christodoulides

    Not rated.

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