Howling Wolf Records (2012)
1) Waiting for Dawn to Break
The Battle Begins
2) Storming the City of Heights
3) Mission Fail 1
4) A Soldier's Odyssey
5) A Soldier's Odyssey
6) Sniper Attack
7) Confrontation from a Lo-Fi Dimension
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- Composer Website
A Warrior's Odyssey
For composer Penka Kounvea, A Warrior’s Odyssey was a very personal project. Originally conceived a series of demos written to get into high-profile video game assignments, the composer quickly realized that the individual cues, once properly assembled and fleshed out, would tell a convincing musical journey themselves: a tale of hope, bravery and valor to form an enjoyable soundtrack album. In this respect, A Warrior’s Odyssey is a score written for the imagination, without any demanding video game or film contexts, which it had to adhere to. Indeed, due to this radically private nature of the project, Kouneva was free to infuse her own structures into the musical layout of the album. Generally speaking, she has clearly focused on stark contrasts between action oriented soundscapes and more somber tracks. The question remains, however, whether this new and radical project works as an end result.
What becomes evident from very early on is the composer’s technique to fuse orchestral, hard-rock and electronic elements together in order to achieve an engaging mix of different styles and musical references. This means that the cues shift very dynamically both from track to track, but also in their own, individual structure. From the unsettling, atmospherically tight opening cue “Waiting for Dawn to Break”and the orchestral and rhythmically propulsive “Storming the City Heights” (with brass and choir added for monumental feel) to the quieter tones of Gothic piano solos in “Mission Fail”, the album offers a wide variety of styles and emotions and shows forth Kouneva’s impressively diverse compositional skillset. What keeps such diverse compositions together throughout the album is an underlying sense of constant movement through hard hitting electronics and fast string ostinatos. The score feels very much like a Hollywood blockbuster score of today.
What Kouveva’s style of writing clearly shows, is its rootedness in her work as an orchestrator of film composer Steve Jablonsky. The familiarity of Kouveva’s compositions with Jablonsky’s work for film or his contributions to the Gears of War video game series is explicitly apparent. Indeed, A Warrior’s Odyssey showcases all the familiar elements of the Hollywood action adventure sound as heard, for example, in the Transformers franchise: enthusiasts of the genre will recognize the familiar militaristic, high-tech flavored sound with a disposition towards overly dramatic heroics. In this sense, the score might come across as less distinctive as one might have hoped for. Overall though, A Warrior’s Odyssey already showcases Kouveva’s skill at composition, especially since a handful of details in the score already hint at the composer’s desire to fashion a stronger musical voice of her own. All in all, A Warrior’s Odyssey is a convincing album and a very enjoyable listen. Penka Kouneva is definitely a composer to watch out for in the future.