CD: SOCOM 4 – U.S. Naby SEALs (2011)

June 20, 2011 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: La-La Land Records/ Released: May 10, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: CD1: 14 tracks / (57:30) + CD2: 11 tracks / (52:59)


Special Notes: 16-page colour booklet / Limited to 2000.


Composer: Bear McCreary




Bear McCreary brings the rich sonics and epic scope of a big budget eighties action scoring to Sony’s latest SOCOM video game entry realm with this massive work spanning 2 CDs, and goosed with the composer’s instantly recognizable combo of ethnic percussion and deep, resonating bass.

Not unlike his music for the TV series Human Target (2010), McCreary has built his score around just a handful of themes and motifs, and his variations are lengthy, with severe changes in instrumentation – the better to ensure this set (and the game) don’t become thematically monotonous.

From the main theme and its first variation, McCreary focuses on introducing all of the diverse elements he’ll rearrange throughout the score: powerful Asian percussion, chimes, bells, gongs, classical brass, fat electric bass, and a melodic line which, when performed by strings, evokes some vintage Lalo Schifrin.

One can sense a bit of Enter the Dragon (1973) in spots (“Passing the Mantle”), but what McCreary’s done is taken ethnic instruments and similarly goosed them with contemporary urban sounds: the bass is funky, the rhythms are frenetic (and typical of Jerry Goldsmith’s Rambo triptych), and there’s rarely a full cue that offers a complete, restive moment. (One cut – “Turning Point” – features amusing homages to Goldsmith, Schifrin, and Basil Poledouris in less than two minutes, but the little tributes are fleetingly fast.)

Some cues, such as “Razad’s Tarocco” – begin intimately and snowball into a mass of percussion, while others are concerted efforts to crunch together a mix of musical cultures. “Leviathan” feels like a soup of raga rhythms performed on Japanese Taiko drums, with layers of chimes, flutes, and twanging strings. There’s also a centre point of cyclonic strings, and lengthy stretches of sustained chords typical of an action film, where the hero’s just evaded a mass of tanks and sharpshooters by hiding in a pock-marked building, where he contemplates his next move while hornets of assassins surround the grounds.

In “Onslaught at the Bridge,” McCreary uses guitars and clusters of percussion similar to his Battlestar Galactica music, although here the cue is based around a 2-note dirge with electric violin wiggling around a heavy bass groove. The cue screams with wailing sounds, and one can argue McCreary took a bit of a gamble, bringing back one of the most clichéd sounds of the eighties and putting it up front when screaming electrified tones are considered passé.

La-La Land’s CD features a strong narrative of action cues, many running between 3-6 minutes, and the set finishes with one elongated crescendo of percussion. The score’s beautifully engineered and orchestrated, and action fans will relish the huge variety of orchestral and ethnic instruments that film producers tend to shrug off in place of samples.

Note: the last track runs a little bit longer… because there’s a bonus cue tacked on at the very end: from (8:07) to (10:10) there’s a cheesy videogame version of the main theme, performed on Casio-like emulators with vibrato reminiscent of Jan Hammer’s electronica.



© 2011 Mark R. Hasan


Related external links (MAIN SITE):

CD:  Battlestar Galactica, Season 4 (2009) — Human Target (2010)


External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography


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