Game Music, Reviews

In Soviet Russia, Music Listens To You! Genesis Rising Soundtrack (Review)

January 10, 2010 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook In Soviet Russia, Music Listens To You! Genesis Rising Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

Alright, to start, no offense is intended to our dear Russian readers. I’ve never heard of anyone offended by the “Soviet Russia” meme, but there’s a first for everything.

KMR (KeepMoving Records) has published a lot of great, under-appreciated music, mostly Russian composers for mostly Russian games. But Genesis Rising, the Real-Time Strategy from U.S.-based Metamorf Studios, has music by Aleksandar Randjelović, who is not Russian, but Serbian. So, if you thought the Soviet Russia joke in the headline was funny, the joke’s on you! Or, well, the Soviet Union included Serbia back in the day so…ehh…uhh…

(The joke’s on me, I guess… I just can’t come up with clever headlines!)

Now, if my rambling about Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe hasn’t caught your attention, nothing will! But since I have your attention, take the jump to read our review of one of last year’s best orchestral soundtracks: Genesis Rising.

TRACKLIST!

01 Main Menu
02 Defiance
03 Calm
04 Premonition
05 Love Theme
06 Inquisition
07 Lapis
08 Battle Theme
09 Cruciform
10 Mystery Theme
11 Revelation

Before we get to the music proper, I have to give credit to the good folks at game-ost.ru, which just so happens to be the best Russian-language database of game music you’ll ever be so lucky to find! The site actually has plenty of English content too, and the editors of the site were actually able to conduct an interview with Randjelović. And that interview is published in this album’s liner notes… in English! I found the interview to be a big help in interpreting the music as I listened to it.

While the soundtrack is only about 35 minutes in length, what it lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. This is all studio orchestral recordings here, with plenty of vocals (choir and solo, male and female) strewn about. The female soloist on “Love Theme” does a fantastic job. And it’s not too often that a “love theme” can be worked into a sci-fi RTS. My thanks to the developers for requesting an emotional piece such as this from Randjelović and his crew of performing artists.

To be perfectly honest, this album feels more like film score than even the most film-score-esque Western game soundtracks I’ve heard in the past. The orchestral cues are perfect, but I fail to see how they would work in context with the game. Then again, I’ve never had the opportunity to play Genesis Rising. Maybe I would be surprised… but I suspect the experience is far less immersive than what I would want from the game. After all, how do you loop this kind of music? It makes no sense. These pieces have a definitive beginning and end, and they would become mighty annoying to hear on repeat for an hour during a drawn-out RTS battle. One can only take so much “epic” orchestral music in a given span of time, right?

But this is not to downplay Randjelović’s talents as a composer. Indeed, as far as KMR’s discography goes, the Genesis Rising soundtrack is the most technically impressive achievement I’ve yet heard. The seven minute track “Cruciform” alone is a testament to the album’s quality. There is a huge range of moods, and dynamics, to be found here. And the choir vocals rival that of Marty O’Donnell’s work on the Halo series.

Head to KMR’s site if you want to try and snag your own copy of this limited edition album for only 8 dollars. Frankly, I’m just happy that the soundtrack exists outside of a promotional, “inside-the-box” extra with the game itself. The music certainly warrants standing on its own.

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