This past Thursday, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and now Human Target composer Bear McCreary released his score for the recent Capcom game Dark Void. As I don’t own a PS3, XBox360 or any other modern gaming machine, I have not played the game. Thus my comments will be based solely based on the music itself.
Those of you familiar with McCreary’s BSG work will find a lot here that you’ll recognize, though in a larger symphonic idiom. His trademark percussion sound is in full display in most of the score’s tracks along with some new sounds – including ondes Martenot. I won’t go into much depth of the themes and such, McCreary already does a great job of analyzing the score over at his blog.
If we talk about McCreary as a composer, it is quite evident that his style has retained much of his signature sound while also evolving as the ensemble at his disposal has grown. For a good example, compare his early Galactica material with the score for the final episode, “Daybreak.” Further, besides the expanded symphonic palate, there is also some very distinct harmonies that have entered into his writing, and these are on display in the Dark Void score.
One of the most enjoyable things about this score is how he weaves the main theme in and out of the cues, changing instrumentation, keys, and even harmonies. The level of thematic integration is beyond what I have normally experienced while gaming, especially outside of RPGs (though I readily admit that I am not much of a gamer these days).
At the head of this review, I mentioned the new tv series Human Target, of which McCreary is scoring. These two scores, along with the finale of Galactica, are all linked in my mind and represent a new level of complexity in his scoring. For these projects, McCreary had a larger orchestra at his disposal, and where that might be a drawback when one thinks of how he has made his name in crafting a unique sound by having smaller ensembles and soloists as the basis for his scoring, it has instead taken his compositions to a new level by deepening the synthesis between traditional Western symphonic instruments and the world music instruments that his orchestra of LA based musicians play.
All is this is to say that McCreary fans should order, or download from iTunes, this score sooner rather than later. Those who dislike how percussive his scoring is, though, will find nothing here to change their minds. Regardless, I still think McCreary is one of the best composers working today and I can only hope that soon he’ll get the call to work on a major studio project.