Not a film score in the way we as collectors and film music enthusiasts normally see it, but none the less this in my opinion this is still movie music or at least music for moving images, and pretty good it is too. BEYOND TWO SOULS is a play station (ps3) game for which composer Lorne Balfe
has written a stunning musical soundtrack, as collectors I am sure we have all become aware that our favourite composers who we readily associate with writing for film are more frequently now dipping their musical toes as it were into the ever expanding waters that include theme park rides and games for computers etc. The scores that I have listened to over the past few years that are for games always surprise me, I suppose one has it transfixed into ones memory banks that music for computer games consists of that Tetris theme which was and still is so annoying, or quirky tedious little tunes that are played on repeat throughout games, but in recent times scores for games have become far more than this in fact composers have produced some wonderful soundtracks which are just as grand and haunting as scores for epic blockbusters for the big screen, and at times maybe can even be more adventurous, exciting and indeed beautiful because of the images and scenarios that they enhance themselves posses these qualities. Like all technology, games for PC,s, play stations, mobile phones etc etc are constantly developing and becoming more and more realistic in their appearance. BEYOND TWO SOULS is certainly no exception it stars Willem Defoe and Ellen Page, and is at this moment in time creating more that a ripple of excitement among game players.
A young girl Jodie Holmes (Caroline Wolfson) lives with her foster parents on a military base. Since her birth the young girl has experienced a strange psychic connection with a mystifying entity called Aiden, via this entity Jodie is able to carry out numerous bizarre and alarming extra-sensory acts, these include taking over individuals minds, strangling people to death, and also being able to manipulate objects. After a disagreement with some other children in her neighbourhood, the entity Aiden almost kills one of them, it is at this stage that Jodie’s foster parents seek out psychiatric help for her, their search takes them to the department of paranormal activity and two doctors Nathan Dawkins,(Willem Dafoe) and Cole Freeman (Kadeem Hardkin) whom they leave their daughter with indefinitely. I wont spoil the game for you but lets say its an interesting plot and has numerous twists, turns and exhilarating action and leaves the outcome of certain scenarios in the hands of the person who is playing the game.
Balfe’s affecting and haunting music shadows this action and also enhances and underlines the mystery and adds depth and emotion to the proceedings, giving the game not only powerful and at times epic sounding support but also infusing a sense of heart and tenderness to it. Largely symphonic the score relies upon driving and urgent strings, which at times become the foundation or support to thundering percussion and fierce sounding brass flourishes, there is also effective and enthralling use of female voice which has a kind of Gaelic resonance to it, the composer utilizes a sorrowful cello in a number of cues which is both heartrending and breathtaking, he further develops the more emotive side of his compositions with solo piano that is mirrored by gentle and delicate harp and a plaintive childlike sounding music box effect. This chiming or lullaby type theme is more prominent within track number six, MY IMAGINARY FRIEND, it takes the lead in the first instant, and is underlined by faint use of glockenspiel which is just touched upon, strings are introduced into the equation giving the theme a more romantic sound, with the music box sound still being performed as the strings swell and become lush and even more prominent, there is also however an atmosphere of apprehension within the cue again created by the use of the string section which seem to play slightly against the central romantic theme that is developing. Track number seven, CHILDHOOD MEMORIES is a sensitive and highly emotive piece, performed on piano, that is accompanied by viola and also underlying strings which although are heard are not in anyway overwhelming, the composer allowing the solo piano and viola pairing to shine through, making this a touching and relaxing listening experience. The score disc opens with JODIES SUITE, this runs for nearly five minutes and is a glorious introduction to the music that is to follow on the release, a wordless female vocal opens the cue, which has a definite Gaelic sound to it, strings begin to build behind the vocal, at first just a hint of them but they then start to rise as does the vocal, together they create a haunting theme that is romantic and also melancholy in its sound and style. The voice melts away and gives way to the string section which take on the theme and give it a full working accompanied by percussion rumbles and harp, the vocal returns towards the end of the cue and strings, horns, embellish and support it until it is almost soaring creating one of those goose bump moments in music.Track number two, DAWKINS SUITE, is another lengthy cue, it opens slowly with a kind of brooding feel to the proceedings, again I sensed a hint of Gaelic origins within the cue, after a slow and downbeat start the composition begins to gain pace and the composer brings into the mix percussive elements that are supported by driving strings and further enhanced by electronics, the tempo is increased with strings inventing a tense and nervous atmosphere whilst the percussion creates an upbeat but at the same time dark sounding backing track. Cue number four I feel is worth a special mention, AIDENS THEME is probably the most beautiful track on the compact disc, and I will say it is one of those moments within film music that occurs very rarely these days, as it has the ability to make this reviewer shudder with emotion as shimmering strings combine with ethereal sounding voices to fashion a stunning and inspiring crescendo, this however is just one part of the composition, the track begins with a melancholy and heartrendingly emotive cello performance that is underlined by piano and harp, this evokes an atmosphere of not only sadness but loneliness and is highly affecting and mesmerizing. The score contains a number of electronic elements, but do not let this put you off, these work well with the main orchestral components at times supporting and embellishing them as well as being utilized independently to generate tense and fearsome interludes. This is a score that I would recommend without reservation, composed by Lorne Balfe
with the production side of things being supervised by the ever present Hans Zimmer
. Go and buy it…….
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light