What began as a personal project for composer & ace orchestrator Penka Kouneva (Midnight Movie [M]) quickly evolved into a concept album, housing music for a non-existent video game and functioning as a solid demo for scoring action-oriented video games.
Kouneva has scored and orchestrated music for a wide variety of genres, and her long association with Remote Control Productions and orchestrating several of Steve Jablonsky’s action scores (notably the Transofrmer franchise) has rubbed off with a writing style that’s as muscular and robust as the company’s house sound, yet Kouneva’s own voice comes through in melodic material drawn from her own cultural roots.
Born in Bulgaria and enriched with the folk instruments and sounds of central Europe, Kouneva’s conceptual CD features all the hallmarks of an action score – a big orchestra, electronic / orchestral hybrids, chorals, and a tough sound – but without being tied to a specific game and / or game sequence, the music has its own natural dramatic flow and isn’t affected by some of the repetitive cues that can affect action & horror games.
In addition to some beautiful folk themes (particularly the lament within “Minotaur Battle”), there’s always an undercurrent of classical composition of which the best tends to be the intricate instrumentation, and occasional shifts from large, aggressive sounds to delicate chamber arrangements.
The three chapters that make up the album feature a variety of cues with varying lengths, and whether the music is pulsing techno and chamber orchestra (“Mission Fail 1”), ambient synths and a haunting blend of orchestra and folk instruments, or odd meters that propel percussion textures (“Minotaur Battle”) with synths, Kouneva maintains a strong continuity in her impressionistic album.
As per Howlin’ Wolfe Records production values, the CD features excellent mastering and attractive graphic art, with a lengthy booklet that also serves to introduce the composer to audiences.
A podcast interview with the composer is also available.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan