Peter Jackson's King Kong
Video Game Agency Promo
Release Date: 2005
Conducted by Chance Thomas
The Northwest Sinfonia
Best of 2005: Best Computer Game Soundtrack
|2.||Kong, The Tragic Hero||3:47|
|3.||Between Two Worlds / Vision of Ann||1:34|
|5.||Valley of the Brontosaurus||1:20|
|8.||The T-Rex Cometh||2:17|
|10.||Kong Dispatches the Tyrant||1:15|
|11.||Ann Lost in the Jungle||1:40|
|12.||Lurking in the Shadows / Mortal Wounds||2:30|
|13.||Vampires of the Sky||2:38|
|14.||Reunion / Galiminus Infestation||2:23|
|15.||Sting of the Giant Scorpion||2:10|
|16.||Through the Crawling Walls||2:00|
|18.||Fury and Heroics||1:31|
|20.||Nest of Raptors||2:14|
|21.||Raptor Attack / Death of a Friend||4:11|
|23.||The Island Tombs||1:58|
|24.||Leaving Skull Island||1:09|
|25.||Denham Plots and Schemes||1:39|
|26.||Ann in New York / Kong's Escape||1:33|
|27.||Empire State Showdown||1:56|
|28.||Death of Kong / Setting the Spirit Free||0:56|
|29.||Kong, King of Skull Island||1:22|
|Total Album Time:||59:59|
|by Mike Brennan
on November 16th, 2005
Chance Thomas is a highly accomplished composer whose recent projects include multiple installments for the Lord of the Rings video game series. Along that trend, his most recent work is for Peter Jackson's King Kong game. For this project, Thomas composed a score that is on the scale of an epic motion picture with a 70-piece orchestra, choir, and soloists. In addition, Ubisoft has just released an unprecedented website specifically for Thomas' score which features, among many other things, over a half hour of music from the two hour score. This is a good thing - this is a score that people should be aware of.
Thomas' main theme is very prominent in the game; it is a sweeping, tragic theme that brings out the power of Kong, but also works for the more emotional side of the story. This theme is featured in "Highlight Reel" which combines many of the musical ideas of the score into a suite. Something that is interesting about this score, and likely the video game as well, is that almost the entire thing takes place on Skull Island. Only four tracks correspond to scenes in New York. This could be the album production or just the way the game play is set up; there is plenty of music that could not make the album cut.
The Kong theme is introduced in "Kong, the Tragic Hero" and is offset by a more romantic, 1930's styled theme for Ann, which comes in the seventh track. The music then takes on a tense, suspenseful tone as Skull Island begins to unveil its dark secrets. Thomas pulls off the many facets of the island's unique setting very well, from heavy percussion behind the orchestra ("Skull Island") to solo vocal performances ("Mortal Wounds"). He also uses various ethnic-sounding instruments for scenes on the island such as a bass clarinet for an added sense of dread in "Snooping Around". Some of the tracks are orchestral game-play music, but the majority of the album contains some working of one of the themes.
The few cues set in New York actually do not take on a completely different sound and, in fact, the percussion becomes heavier. Ann's theme is heard more, adding to the 1930's cinematic feel. The best cues on the album are from the action scenes or those that incorporate the Kong theme, such as "Skull Island", "Kong Dispatches the Tyrant" and "Fury and Heroics". The album ends with a reprise of Kong's theme in "Kong, King of Skull Island" that rumbles to a percussive close.
The first of three orchestral scores recorded for Peter Jackson's King Kong projects, Chance Thomas does a good job capturing the sense of both adventure and tragedy. I have had the opportunity to see excerpts of the game play and Thomas' music works very well. I especially like the Kong theme, which seems to fit the vision of the island and the character very well. The score is better than most game scores, with a very cinematic feel that makes one forget it comes from a game context. Thomas' use of a strong percussion section behind the orchestra gives the music a great sense or urgency and adventure while creating an exotic and mysterious setting for the game. Fully orchestral scores are not new to video games, but the size of this production is still astounding, and the resulting sound showcases the effort Thomas and the orchestra and choir put into it.
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