Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CD REVIEW - AVATAR - The Videogame

Music by Chance Thomas
Huge Sound/ Ubisoft Promo
14 Tracks 33:15 mins

Probably by now most of you have seen James Cameron's Avatar, with its music score by James Horner, which has received mixed critical reviews; but have you played the game yet?
Horner's music is not used in the game, but instead Chance Thomas has come up with yet another enjoyable work, following on from his excellent King Kong game score.
Quite often the composer chosen for the game version of a big movie has written his score a long time before the movie's composer gets to work, often with quite differing end results. Occasionally however, a composer's instinct takes over, as in the case of King Kong, and he comes up with a score that compliments that of the movie. This is also the case with Avatar, though Thomas had help with the direction of his music on this occasion, for Horner had been involved from the start on the movie, being a long-time collaborator of the director, and he had the unusual opportunity of sitting down with Horner to align their efforts for both film and game.
Chance kindly sent me a CD sampling of his resulting score and, whilst retaining his own individual style, the music is very much cut from the same cloth stylistically, though much lighter on the vocals utilised by Horner, and with electronics more to the fore at times. It does however feature live musicians for a large part, both Hollywood players and also the Northwest Sinfonia.
In the composer's own words, the CD he sent me is " a full-on frontal assault from the opening track. Mostly level-based action music, though I did hide a few cinematic flavored pieces here and there." Fine by me, as I do greatly enjoy action scoring, but in the absence so far of a commercial release for the score, you should of course check out the game for the full impact and variety of the music.
The opening piece, "Aerial Combat Acrobatics" certainly does start things off with a bang, an exciting and powerful action piece for full orchestra, brassy and percussive. The following "Jungle Incident" is suitably tribal, with percussion and ethnic flute work. "Situation Darkens, Hope Endures" starts out grimly, but ends on a defiant note. "Virgin Flight/Finding the Shaman" compliments the approach taken by Horner for similar scenes in the movie, being suitably airy and filled with anticipation, but then becoming quite subdued and mysterious.
It's back to the action for the propulsive "Stampede Hunting;" the percussion-driven "Goliath Recon and Assault," with its suspenseful opening; "Flight of the Banshees," with its breakneck percussion;" and "Conquest of the Still Lands," which steadily moves along its all-conquering pathway.
What can I say about "Mystical gatherings," other than that it is suitably, well, mystical. More action quickly follows, with the exciting "Showdown to Chaos" episodic to start, before gathering momentum; "Boss Fight Falco/End Game," again delivering, before ending on a triumphant note; and "Vaderas Hollow" rounding off said action with a bang.
The penultimate cue, "Na'vi Climax" is a little too electronic for my liking, though enhanced by ethnic percussion and flutes; giving way to "The Na'vi Way/Credits," another mystical piece to start with, but strings soon take over, leading us to a peaceful conclusion.
I always look forward to a new score from Chance Thomas and am never disappointed. For more information on Chance and his work, visit, and to sample his score for the Avatar game, go to


Post a Comment

<< Home