HALO 4 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

HALO 4 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK. Booklet Front. Click to zoom.
HALO 4 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Booklet Front
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi / Neil Davidge
Arranged by Andrew Morgan / Dessislava Stefanova / Jeremy Holland Smith / Matt Dunkley / Neil Davidge / Nobuko Toda
Published by Microsoft
Catalog number 7HZCD12001
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 CD - 15 tracks
Release date October 22, 2012
Duration 01:17:22
Genres
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Overview

Master Chief is back in this installment of one of modern gaming's most high flying franchises. Microsoft took a big risk forming a new developer (343 Industries) from scratch to take on a new trilogy of Halo games. They added into it a new race of aliens (the Prometheans, not to be confused with Mass Effect's Protheans), a more personal story, and some interesting new features, including the ability to play as the flood, a new giant walking mech vehicle and an episodic story based co-op mode. Though perhaps the biggest change in the franchise is the new direction for the music. This is the first game in the main series not to be handled by the acclaimed duo Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori. Instead Bristol-based producer, composer and songwriter Neil Davidge — best known for his work with Massive Attack — is responsible for the score of this game. He brings a new sound to the saga while staying true to the series' past heritage. The intention according to Davidge was to add "a touch of romance" to the score as well as some new electronic sounds.

Body

The soundtrack opens with "Awakening", which is a hard-hitting first foray into the new Halo soundscape. The opening is slightly misleading as it opens with this really atmospheric, crescendoing, shimmering soundscape from strings and light choir. It's a fantastic album opener and stays true to the series' heritage, but this section lasts for just over 30 seconds, which is disappointing. I was hoping for a bit more development of this material, instead what we get is slightly generic electro-orchestral action music. It's not bad — it's well-produced, boasts some interesting harmonies and I like it when the choir comes in lightly backing up the interesting harmonic movements. However, there's nothing else that's particularly evocative about this track and it's not as compelling as what preceded. It's a shame as there was some real potential here. The next track "Belly of the Beast" is more of this style of music. I like the percussion work here, it's great at driving the music forward when it needs to be, but again I wasn't particularly compelled.

I believe the music of the Halo series has always been at it's best when it's slowed down and focused on building up interesting textures, something that Martin O'Donnell was very good at. The same holds true here with this new direction of music, as shown in "Requiem", just with a different kind of sound. Instead of the plainchant style melodies and thick choral textures the series has been famous for, this track uses interesting and unpredictable electronic sounds and thick romantic orchestration to great effect. In this game we get to see a more personal side to Master Chief, and tracks like this really add a more personal touch to a story and characters that could quite easily become an afterthought. "Legacy" is also slow but goes for a more tension building atmosphere, utilizing poetic singers, something that O'Donnell touched on in Halo: Reach.

The rest of the album consists of lengthier, more focused tracks. "Faithless" introduces some electric guitar to give the action sound palette a larger rock feel. It's relatively subtle compared to other tracks of this kind, allowing the heavy electro-orchestral sound to do most of the work. "Haven" is back to the slow romantic music, using electronic sounds and patterns that remind me of Craig Armstrong's music and sweeping, lush romantic string melodies and harmonies. There's a particularly dramatic build-up towards the end of this track that effectively leads into the next track, "Nemesis". A very eerie opening leads into a romantic string section which is then driven forward by some electronic bass, the melody is then accentuated by the choir. The choir here has a very different sound to what we're used to from the Halo series — it's more edgy and articulate compared to the big sound of Martin O'Donnell's scores.

"Solace" is in my opinion the best track on the album. The electronics here assist the overall sound as oppose to interfere and take over as they do in later tracks on the album. A quiet opening leads to probably the most dramatic build up on the album, with really great supporting harp and piano lines and a melody that sounds almost Asian in it's progression, which is helped by a subtle gong like sound in the background. Familiar note patterns from past scores return in the opening passage of "To Galaxy", the next sections feature a walking synth bass and an orchestral build up, which reaches a pretty effective climax point just after the half way point, with more interesting electronics making their entrance.

Unfortunately, some of the longer tracks that proceed it don't offer very much that really grabs your attention. "Immaterial" attempts to go for more creepy sounding slow scoring, but ends up being a mess of uncomfortable sounds which often don't gel as intended, and the textures are far too heavy and jam packed with electronic sounds. There's an interesting piano riff somewhere in there, but it's not enough to save it for me. "117", contributed by 343 Industries' music supervisor Kazuma Jinnouchi, has a great melody, orchestral, and choir lines but again it's far too heavy on the electronics and very over-produced. It would've been much better if it was more natural; see half way through the track where the electronics give way to a cool piano riff reminiscent of O'Donnell's music.

"Arrival" is an improvement in this regard, allowing a convincing melody to shine through instead of overloading the listener with unnecessary electronic sounds. This track reminds me of Steve Jablonsky's "Arrival to Earth" from the Transformers film soundtrack in terms of the effect they're going for, albeit with more movement, and I think it works very well. The quiet finish is very effective too. "Revival" brings a choir into the mix, which is stylistically reminiscent of the recent Alone in the Dark game. Focusing on precise and clear diction as oppose to a thick sound, it serves to create tension very well. Again, I really don't like the dominant electronic sounds that punctuate towards the end of the track. I understand the effect that Davidge was going for but it could have been a lot more subtle, like "Green and Blue", which is a return to the fantastic slower scoring we've heard before. Solos from the cello and oboe really set the mood for this track, which dramatically tells tales of looking to the future, mourning of lost companions and moving on. It's a fantastic album finale and I hope we hear more of this romantic orchestral writing in future scores in the series.

Summary

Overall, I think that the Halo 4 soundtrack is one of two halves. I found the more fast paced action music to be fairly average and uncompelling, sounding too much like music I've already heard before in plenty of (admittedly other often inferior) Hollywood style AAA titles. Some of the electronics in play here also felt really out-of-place and off-putting for the Halo franchise. However, much of the slower music remains as engaging as the series' music has ever been. In fact, many people feel that some of the music of Halo 4 surpasses past scores in the series. The romantic string writing is skillfully moulded to fit into the Halo series heritage and adds a real emotional backbone to a series that could have become stale without a change in direction.

Taken as an overall soundtrack, I think this is worth giving a chance, but I would sample it and try it out before buying. After all, some people love it, others hate it. I think there may be a few Halo purists out there that might feel the new direction for the series music loses that Halo identity, and to an extent that's true, but it's also setting up a new identity. With the establishment of this new sound, I feel that there's a lot of potential to expand upon in future scores for this juggernaut of a franchise. If Neil Davidge can create a more unique action sound and tone down the piercing electronics, then I think it'll be a highly successful one.



Album
7/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Joe Hammond

Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge for Neil Davidge Productions Ltd.
Arrangements and programming by Neil Davidge and Andrew ‘Drew’ Morgan.
Additional production and orchestration by Andrew Morgan.
*117 composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi.

Orchestration and Arrangements, Matt Dunkley
Additional arranging on Librarian and Green and Blue, Jeremy Holland Smith.
Engineer and technical support, Marco Migliari.
Additional Programming, Gaetan Schurrer.
Mixed by Andy Bradfield and Jeremy Wheatley for 365 Artists.
Additional mixing, Niall Acott, Marco Migliari, Paul Walton and Neil Davidge.
Music Director 343 Industries, Sotaro ‘Tajeen’ Tojima.
Music supervision by Kazuma Jinnouchi for 343 Industries.
Executive Audio Producer 343 Industries, Ken Kato.
Recorded in Bristol.
Orchestral recordings at Abbey Road Studios, London.
London Bulgarian Vocal Choir recorded at Angel Studios, London.
Copyists, Dakota Music.
All Orchestral and choir recordings engineered by Geoff Foster.
Assistant engineers, Lewis, Jones, Paul Pritchard, Matt Mysko, Chris Parker and Rupert Coulson.
Orchestra performed by the The Chamber Orchestra of London:
Conducted by Matt Dunkley.
The Chamber Orchestra of London: Steve Morris, Warren Zielinsky, Harvey De Souza, Darrell Alexander, Ania Safonova, Simon Blendis, Laura Samuel, Julian Leaper, Charles Mutter, Rita Manning, Ofer Falk, Gabriel Lester, Clare Duckworth, Robbie Gibbs, Ben Buckton, Philippe Honore, Eliza Marshall, Miranda Dale, Gareth Griffiths, Corinne Chappell, Annabelle Meare, Ursula Gough, Amanda Smith, Kathy Gowers, Jan Regulski, Jeremy Issac, Alison Dods, Ralph De Souza, Richard George, Harriet Davies, Kerenza Peacock, Maya Bickel, Non Peters, Sonia Fairbairn, Andrij Viytovych, Vicci Wardman, Julia Knight, Reiad Chibah, Martin Humbey, Samuel Parrat, Rebecca Low, Rosie Bliss, Alistair Blayden, Sally Alexander, Garfield Jackson, Catherine Bradshaw, Ian Rathbone, Chris Goldscheider, Emma Sheppard, Jessica Beeston, Melanie Martin, David Cohen, David Daniels, Rebecca Gilliver, Adrian Bradbury, John Heley, Vicky Matthews, Mary Scully, Chris West, Tim Gibbs, Simon Oliver, Paul Kimber, Rupert Bing, Ben Griffiths, Dom Kelly, Daniel Pilthorpe, Katie Bedford and Ileana Ruhemann.

Brass arrangements performed by
Richard Watkins, Nigel Black, Martin Owen, Mark Almond, Bryan Fulcher, Colin Sheen, David Pyatt, Angela Barnes, Carston Williams, Lindsay Shilling, Andy Wood, Steve Saunders and Owen Slade.
Male Choir: RSVP Voices.
Contracted by Rob Johnston.
All UK Orchestral fixing by Gareth Griffiths, Cool Music Ltd.
Female Choir Vocals performed by the London Bulgarian Choir:
Dessislava Stefanova, Vivienne Boucherat, Mirella Koleva, Kalina Koleva, Tanya Jackson, Lora Kaleva, Deanna Benedict, Diana Tsokova, Katarzyna Sommerfeld, Catriona Langmuir, Joanna Burke, Atsuko Cottam, Alison Conway, Polly Hunt.
London Bulgarian Choir conducted and arrangements by Dessislava Stefanova.
Female vocal and vocal arrangements on Legacy, Awakening, Solace performed by Claire Tchaikowski.

117: Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi.
Orchestrated by Nobuko Toda;
Music Preparation, Thanh Tran;
Recordist, Tim Lauber.
Stage Manager, Tom Steel;
Stage Engineer, Denis St. Amand;
Additional Stage Crew, Greg Dennen;
Orchestra Contractor, Peter Rotter;
Conductor, Nick Glennie-Smith;
Recorded at Newman Scoring Stage, 20th Century Fox.
Orchestra performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony:
Bruce Dukov, Julie Gigante, Tereza Stanislav, Lisa Sutton, Roger Wilkie, Jackie Brand, Katia Popov, Phil Levy, Natalie Leggett, Sarah Thornblade, Marc Sazer, Helen Nightengale, Charlie Bisharat, Darius Campo, Jay Rosen, Rafael Rishik, Jeanne Skrocki, Shalini Vijayan, Irina Voloshina, Sara Parkins, Songa Lee, Lorenz Gamma, Kevin Connolly, Yelena Yegoryan, Cheryl Norman, Alwyn Wright, Neil Samples, Radu Pieptea, Brian Dembow, Roland Kato, Shawn Mann, Robert Brophy, Alma Fernandez, David Walther, Jennie Hansen, Keith Greene, Laura Pearson, Carolyn Riley, Andrew Picken, Aaron Oltman, Steve Erdody, Andrew Shulman, Dennis Karmazyn, John Walz, Kim Scholes, Trevor Handy, Paula Hochhalter, Erika Duke, Tina Soule, Paul Cohen, Ed Meares, Drew Dembowski, Bruce Morgenthaler, Steve Dress, Sue Ranney, Geoff Osika, Nico Philippon, Thomas Harte, Geri Rotella, Heather Clark, Lara Wickes, Leslie Reed, Stuart Clark, Ralph Williams, Rose Corrigan, Judy Farmer, Jim Thatcher, Brian O'Connor, Steve Becknell, Phil Yao, Jon Lewis, David Washburn, Rob Schaer, Rick Baptist, Alex Iles, Steve Holtman, Phil Keen, Doug Tornquist, Wade Culbreath, Greg Goodall, Brian Kilgore, – The American Federation of Musicians on the United States and Canada.
Score Mixed by Alan Meyerson at Remote Control Productions, Santa Monica, CA;
Assistant Engineer, Christian Wenger.
Score Production Producer, Nobuko Toda (FILM SCORE LLC);
Executive Score Production Manager, Daniel Monteverde;
Score Production Manager, Kurt Jessen, Nicolas Alvarez;
Assistant Score Production Manager, Takashi Baker (Arriba Entertainment Inc.)

Mastered by Shawn Joseph at Optimum Mastering, Bristol.
Artwork design by Paul Chessell.

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Album was composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi / Neil Davidge and was released on October 22, 2012. Soundtrack consists of 15 tracks tracks with duration over more than hour. Album was released by Microsoft.

CD 1

1
Awakening
05:41
2
Belly Of The Beast
02:38
3
Requiem
02:16
4
Legacy
02:29
5
Faithless
05:02
6
Haven
05:45
7
Nemesis
03:31
8
Ascendancy
04:20
9
Solace
04:45
10
To Galaxy
04:57
11
Immaterial
07:33
12
117
07:28
13
Arrival
05:37
14
Revival
07:19
15
Green and Blue
08:01
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