CD: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011)

November 28, 2011 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: La-La Land Records/ Released: October 25, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: CD1: 26 tracks / (72:18) + CD2: 18 tracks / (48:11)

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Special Notes:  20-page colour booklet with liner notes by Daniel Schweiger / Limited to 3000 copies.

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Composer:  Greg Edmonson (plus Azam Ali and Clint Bajakian).

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Review:

It actually takes a few listens before Greg Edmondon’s soundtrack for the PlayStation videogame settles into a particular groove with the listener. The careful orchestrations and use of a large orchestra are tantalizing to the ear, but perhaps atypical to La-La Land’s 2-CD set is Edmonson’s lesser emphasis on bombast and massive action cues.

The makers of Uncharted clearly wanted to evoke the grandeur of epic treasure-seeking and adventurism, but through more measured development, particularly in comparison towards Hans Zimmer & Co.’s more kinetic (and repetitive) Pirates of the Caribbean series. Edmonson’s cues tend to focus on the journey and gradual discovery process of clues, hence a number of pieces emphasizing ‘Drake in transit,’ be it across the desert by foot or motor; creating a sense of entering and scoping around remote villages; and atmospheric instrumental touches which evoke setting suns, warm amber hues, and local color, of which co-composer Azam Ali adds gorgeous ethnic pieces with vocals, acoustic instruments, and rippling percussion textures (as in the superb “Bazaar Brawl”).

When action cues pops up, they seem designed to underscore moments of confrontation, surprise, fast mental reasoning, and careful response – a blend of human behaviour that comes through uncannily clear throughout this album without the usual action cliches. It’s a tribute to Edmonson and Ali (plus co-composer Clint Bajakian) that 2 hours of music manage to convey a kind of investigative journey, filled with glimpses of ancient grandeur, greed, and exotica.

Both CDs contain a balance of orchestral and light up-tempo cues enhanced with electronics, and while there are a few sections where repeated musical phrases are recapitulated in similar suspense and light action cues, Edmonson’s writing is a solid amalgam of classical Hollywood escapism, blending orchestral and rich ethnic instruments. The remixed theme versions by Powerplay are okay, but they add little new to the score proper, and perhaps would’ve functioned better as a bonus suite instead of being interspersed with material on CD 2.

La-La Land’s CD set features another glossy booklet with detailed liner notes on Edmonson (best known for his work on TV’s Firefly), and the audio mastering is really crisp – a major benefit for Ali’s Middle Eastern percussion textures which are often rolled out slowly to expand the full spectrum of the stereo image. After several listens, Uncharted 3 can become quite addictive.

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© 2011 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography

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