Label: Lakeshore Records
Released: June, 2016
Tracks / Album Length: 23 tracks / 47 mins.
Composer: Nima Fakhrara
Special Notes: also available on CD.
No stranger to scoring video games, Nima Fakhrara’s music is as unusual as the interactive game’s design in which players can take several differing paths as they’re immersed in the world of the 1979 Islamic Revolution with turned Iran into a theocracy.
Fakhrara mines both Persian and vintage synths to weave a portrait of the period and culture clashes at play, with modernism butting heads with traditional instruments and vocals, offering laments (the opening “1979” and sections of the beautiful “Friday Kisses”) and more overt suspense and action cues to capture the fear and frenzy of protestors confronting the country’s new law enforcers in the streets.
“Time is Now” captures the thrill of protesting and the gradual danger faced by characters, using fat, vibrato-heavy synth chords, whereas the ethereal “Dreams” is all vintage keyboards whose chords shine and shimmer. “Hand in Hand” moves from undulating electronic pulses redolent of Fakhrara’s The Signal (2014) to a fast-moving rhythm that ultimately sets up a frenetic, orchestral-driven denouement, as does “Save Him,” enhanced with some high-pitched digital distortion. The album’s final track, “Lajevardi Suite,” consists mostly of fat bass tones that breathe and expand, gradually forming a steady rhythm before heavy string chords and piano close the track.
The cue’s finale harkens back to an earlier cue, “Sorrow and Hope,” which is one of the album’s highlights as it consist of steady string bass chords that lay the foundation for a piano lament, and a crowd’s manic chorus. Fakhrara gives the cue a synthetic mechanical engine, chugging forward while the crowd’s chanting sounds like a loop of “Bye-bye Shaw, Bye-Bye Shaw, Bye Bye Shaw,” closer to a child’s taunt that a religious incantation.
Lakeshore Records’ album offers a variety of tracks that make up a fairly meaty album, but as is the nature of some game tracks, some of the best are also the briefest, and one wishes those gems could’ve been spun-off into longer pieces (such as the pulsing “Tehran” and “Empty Streets”). Nicely mastered and sequenced, this is a great example of combining ethnic instruments and vintage synths to create a vivid musical snapshot of the visceral moments of a game designed to excite and edify.
A podcast interview with Nima Fakhrara is also available.
© 2016 Mark R. Hasan
Category: Soundtrack Reviews