Composed by
Winifred Phillips

Published by
WaterTower Music (2010)

 

Tracklistings
1) Into the Blackness
2) With Hearts Sublime
3) Eyes in the Night
4) The Gathering
5) Take Flight
6) Attack at Dawn
7) Deadly Plan
8) Nightmare
9) The Shape of the Wind
10) Wild Fire
11) Legends
12) Devil's Triangle
13) The Seekers
14) To Right All Wrongs
15) The Fallen
16) The Siege
17) The Guardians

 

Availability
- iTunes

 

Extras
- Composer website
- Interview

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn


Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Legend of the Guardians is loosely based on the popular books by author Kathryn Lasky as well as the animated motion picture directed by Zack Snyder. In the game, the player takes on the role of the young owl guardian Shard whose father has been wrongfully accused of betraying the residents of the Great Tree. While Snyder’s movie version attempts to appeal to both children and adults, the rather simple dynamic of the game mark it as clearly focused on a younger audience. Basically, what the player does, is fly about as an owl, defeat evil bats and rescue lost owlets. The title’s musical score though, composed by Winifred Phillips, is unlike one might expect an epic, melodic and rich musical journey.

Legend of the Guardians’ score is moving between two musical poles. On the one side, there presents itself a menacing, evil and ponderous sound. The start of the soundtrack album is a good example thereof: “Into the Blackness“ features intense, dark and aggressive arrangements. They’re characterized by pounding percussion, punctuated brass hits and frequent rhythmic changes. Indeed, the album as a whole is often dominated by these powerful action cues that are well constructed, orchestrated and executed. “Attack at Dawn” in particular has exciting dynamics that go a long way in underscoring the action on screen convincingly. The other side of Phillips’ score focuses on the lore, legend and mythology of the owl’s world. “The Gathering“, written for clarinet, flute and strings evokes references to fairy-tales. It’s a lush and warm cue with pleasing chord progression and memorable melodic development. In other instances, this fantastical sound is enriched with Asian woodwinds, harp and ethnic solo voice (“With Hearts Sublime“). Both facets of Philips’ music are composed with great skill and its contrast makes for an interesting and enjoyable listen on album. The score does have one flaw, however. Its performance with synthesizers doesn’t do the compositions justice. Especially the tribal drums, the deep menacing brass lines and the orchestral hits would’ve infinitely benefited from a real orchestra. The same goes for the more complex melodic string lines that often sound weak instead of moving or artificial instead of emotional. It is certainly the one point where a sequel score can make the biggest improvements.

Overall, the score to Legend of the Guardians is an orchestrally rich, melodically powerful and rhythmically sound composition that suffers from an underachieved performance. That shouldn’t deter fans of either the franchise or fantasy scores in general from giving it a spin. It’s a rewarding listen.