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Monday, December 22, 2008


Too Human
Music by Steve Henifin
Sumthing Else SE-2045-2 (US)
20 Tracks 65:41 mins

Steven Henifin's score to the Silicon Knights game Too Human was nominated for "Best Original Video Game Score" by the Hollywood Music Awards and is performed by the FILMharmonic Orchestra and Choir Prague, so even before giving this new Sumthing Else recording a spin, you know you're in for a big sound.
The game is based on Norse mythology, retold as a technologically advanced lost civilization and, seeking authenticity, instruments like the Hardanger, Lyre, Alpenhorn and Langeleik are utilised, and the vocals are loosely based on the Norse Eddur; but its not exclusively Norse in style and there's plenty of electronic ambient music as well.
After a brief music and effects track, the score proper gets under way with the propulsive and exciting "Relic." The slower "Aeon" follows, bringing a feeling of nobility with it. "Cyberspace" is the first example of the more contemporary, ambient side of the score, though it does end with a melancholy Lyre solo. More melancholy ambience follows in "The World Tree," before orchestra and choir join with electronics for the epic opening to "Recovering the Past." However the cue soon returns to electronic ambience. "Epoch" opens with a chant for female voices, before war drums, then brass and choir move the track expectantly along. Conversely, "Perseverance" opens with male voices, before continuing propulsively with orchestra, the whole choir joining as it proceeds to a false climax, the cue ending quite eerily.
"Grendel's Lair" is another propulsive, rhythmic cue for orchestra, choir and electronics; whilst the largely synths-driven "Aesir," opens mystically. "Man or Machine" has perhaps a suitably industrial sound to it, though Hardanger does drift in and out. The haunting sound of solo soprano dominates "Undertow;" whilst its back to the ambient electronics for the suitably cold sounding "The Ice Forest," but with the war drums returning for the mid-section. "Condemned" is yet another propulsive cue, with an impassioned passage for Hardanger giving it a weighty quality. The ambient "Leviathan" and "The Serpent Awakes" follow, before the uptempo "Gods and Chaos" kicks in to alleviate the boredom. "Uprising" follows in inspirational fashion, but unfortunately soon gives way to a mournful, ambient sound.
"Frey Expresses Doubt" opens passionately, before developing into an a capella female chorale, with a definite religious feel to it. "Faith to Attrition" finshes things off in fine uptempo style.
To conclude, this is something of a patchy listening experience for me. The uptempo orchestral/choral moments are highly enjoyable, whilst the ambient cues are best heard in the game and really don't make for much of a listening experience away from the game.


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