Friday, 4 December 2015

ASSASSIN'S CREED SYNDICATE Score Review

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ____
Check it out... if you desire an intelligent, nuanced, comprehensive score, Austin Wintory once again proving that he is one of the finest video game composers of the modern age
  
Skip it... if you're opposed to the sounds and style associated with Victorian-era classical writing 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ____

PART OF 4TH QUARTER WRAP-UP

For a fan of video game music, there are few composers working in the field today as technically accomplished, dexterous, and exciting as the great Austin Wintory. From the jazz-influenced piano wizardry that defined his score for Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (which won the award for Best Video Game Score in 2013), to the serene, forlorn string passages of Journey, to the grandiose splendour of last year's The Banner Saga (nominated for Best Video Game Score 2014), Wintory is a staple for this genre of scoring, his output consistently impressive. But for all the dazzling nuance and detail evident on his previous releases, his latest, for the ninth entry into the Assassin's Creed franchise, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, is quite possibly his most admirable, at least with regards to technical mastery. Taking great inspiration from the likes of Felix Mendelssohn, Wintory's score flies about in all manner of directions, a neo-romantic style permeating the work. Justifiably so, as the game allows players to traverse the streets of 19th century London; thus, Wintory's compositions demand comparison to the fast-paced, string-orientated classical pieces of the 1800s. It is frenetic, admirably well-executed, and completely individual, its combination of both modernistic and traditional methodologies splendidly well-conceived.   

From astute, nimble action-dense tracks, to dark, dreary drama, to wondrous, sweeping romance; Wintory develops a soundscape that feels grounded in the time period he's underscoring, that simultaneously manages to appeal to a contemporary audience. The level of detail on display here is near unparalleled, the music evolving in natural yet unexpected ways; take, for example, the meticulous complexity of 'Waltzing on Rooftops and Cobblestones'. The swift pace of the track alone is worthy of commendation, but it doesn't end there. One should also take into account the variety of principle melodies that fly in and out throughout its length, adding weight and substance to the abundance of what could be considered vacuous string arpeggios, the percussion breaks that enhance the structure of the piece, and the playful, jubilant atmosphere ingrained within the cues tapestry, that makes it all the more entertaining. Wintory's slower, more emotional offerings are just as satisfying, such as with regard to the opening, 'Bloodlines', its sombre, passionate piano and violin performances setting the mood perfectly. A vocalist by the name of Holly Sedillos lends her voice to a number of tracks, most notably 'Destruction's Our Delight', and 'Too Dreadful a Practice for This Open Air' (a piece which provides a variation on the melody to the traditional Christian hymn, 'Abide with Me'), and she elevates the material substantially, her gorgeous, almost ethereal soprano augmenting Wintory's instrumentation superbly. Syndicate's rapid-fire, dense compositions are only restrained in effectiveness by the dryness of the mix in some select intervals, generally during solo string performances. So, admittedly, this score isn't as lush in size as the vast majority of Wintory's previous endeavours, but this does not significantly nullify his technical accomplishments, Syndicate an absolutely astonishing achievement all the same. If you appreciated Olivier Deriviere's work on last year's Black Flag expansion, Freedom Cry, you should be able to respect the impeccable craftsmanship observable in Assassin's Creed Syndicate; one of the finest scores of the year to date. You can purchase Assassin's Creed Syndicate on Amazon or iTunes, here and here.

8.5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ____

Additional notes about release: the album features six ballads ('Give Me the Cure', 'The Late Pearl Attaway', 'The Tale of Twopenny', 'Feasting on a Lord', 'Jokes Jokes Jokes', and 'Underground'), all written by Austin Wintory, Scott Edgar, Simon Hall, and Steve Gates. All ballads are performed by Tripod. The iTunes release offers a digital booklet.


Track Listing

1.Bloodlines1:53
2.London Is Waiting2:45
3.The Dance Begins2:02
4.Peace and I Are Strangers Grown1:45
5.Soothing Syrup3:21
6.Give Me the Cure2:01
7.Danza alla Daggers3:10
8.The Churning Seas of London1:58
9.It's Business, Mr. Frye2:47
10.The Late Pearl Attaway1:35
11.Everyone Has a Price1:44
12.Destruction's Our Delight1:40
13.Waltzing on Rooftops and Cobblestones4:51
14.Cathedrals of Steel2:03
15.You've Stolen Your Last Shilling1:37
16.The Tale of Twopenny1:43
17.Top Hats and Sword Canes1:42
18.Men Have Become Monsters2:13
19.The Assassin Two-Step1:45
20.Too Dreadful a Practice for This Open Air1:39
21.Take Your Bow, Knave3:40
22.Feasting on a Lord1:47
23.A Ballet of Blades2:22
24.Great Minds Against Themselves Conspire1:22
25.A Gauntlet Scherzo3:16
26.London Will Soon Be Rid of Your Chaos2:11
27.Darling, What a Night2:53
28.Jokes Jokes Jokes1:16
29.Hooded Allegro Vivace2:57
30.For Those We Loved2:03
31.Death Is Now a Welcome Guest2:02
32.Bloody Presto con Brio3:25
33.So Much for a House Call1:41
34.I Would Have Created a Paradise5:17
35.Underground3:16
36.Family1:55
Total Album Time:85:37