CD: Woman Astronaut, The (2015)

July 10, 2015 | By


WomanAstronautScore: Excellent

Label: Varese Sarabande

Released:  July 10, 2015

Tracks / Album Length:  14 tracks / 48 mins.

Composer: Penka Kouneva

Special Notes:  n/a




Like her prior album, A Warrior’s Odyssey (2012), film and video game composer Penka Kouneva’s The Woman Astronaut is a concept album, this time featuring original music inspired by women who’ve chosen to follow the celestial dream of becoming astronauts, experts in all aspects of flight, scientific experiments, and maintenance of essential gear that helps us see, hear, and learn more about the Earth and the universe.

Blending orchestral and electronic elements, “Earth” is typical of Kouneva’s writing, firmly rooted in a strong theme which sets up the album’s journey as the eponymous astronaut goes through theory, training, mission launch, and experiences dangerous events and orbital wonders.

A darker version of the main theme is laid out in “Starry Way,” with metallic pulses and retro seventies keyboards, backbeats, and churning chords that form a heroic theme variation, whereas “Training” is a muscular track with fat synth beats and flanging keyboards that perfectly match the angst of being pushed to physical and psychological limits, and the determination to transcend the trials – the latter characterized by some lovely piano material and lush string accompaniment and wordless chorus.

“Alarm and Rescue” is similarly propelled by a fast-moving rhythm onto which Kouneva adds chunks of her orchestral and electronic arsenal, rich in urgency but never plaintive. The dramatic progression evokes confrontation of a crisis, rough encounters, and ultimately restraining wayward elements – captured by heavy percussion and declarative chords.

More interesting is “Insomnia” which begins with downward gliding notes, almost drunken, while a minimalist theme iteration on keyboards adds a desperation to grab hold and find some stability. The repetitive structure and plummeting notes are contrasted by solo violin and slight percussion textures at the midpoint as the crisis reaches its saturation, after which brass and backbeats keep pummeling as further electrified tones glide at the peripherals of the stereo image. While not an overt action cue, there’s varying levels of tension which show off Kouneva’s knack for capturing tense moments using a balance of electronics and industrial-styled sounds.

Woman Astronaut also contains a fair share of melodic pieces, such as the choral-heavy “Siren” with wordless yet operatic vocals and eerie strings; and the chamber-styled “Looking Up,” with a classical theme variation that seems to hover over shimmering tones.

Most of the cues are meaty in length, and the strong narrative makes Kouneva’s album a joy for both sci-fi adventure fans wanting a mix of classical and contemporary synth scoring, and video game fans accustomed to epic scores anchored to strong thematic material.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



Additional Links:
Editor’s BlogComposer on IMDB  —  Composer Filmography

Select Merchants: — BSX — Intrada — Screen Archives Entertainment

Tags: ,

Category: Soundtrack Reviews

Comments are closed.