Video game music has been an emerging field for composers with its own special demands, especially with regard to the repetition necessitated by frequent game play. Not surprisingly, much of it has been created using synthetic instruments, but the European makers of the game Primal, which runs on Sony's Playstation 2 consoles, decided on a full orchestral score. They turned to the composing/performing duo known as Bob & Barn (Paul Arnold and Andrew Barnabas), who had previously created the score for Medievil, and gave them the assignment. Primal, an action and adventure game, follows the story of a girl in search of her lost boyfriend traveling through four distinct fantasy worlds, Nexus, Solum, Aquis, and Aetha, with a sidekick named Scree. Bob & Barn created music for each world and for specific scenes such as battle sequences. In a score played by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, conducted by Nic Raine, the music comes off as symphonic but not as well organized as actual symphonies tend to be. Long passages move slowly, with themes coming in and out, but there is little sense of structure beyond a moment to moment, one-thing-after-another sequencing. This may be the limitation of music intended for the stop and start of a video game as heard in the linear form of a record album. But it makes Primal a hybrid combining elements of a symphony, a movie soundtrack, and an ambient new age recording. The composers are certainly eclectic, and not shy about borrowing familiar tunes such as "The Blue Danube" when it suits them. But, even more than a typical soundtrack, this is mood music to support, rather than create, a variety of moods.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Primal, video game music|