Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Review of "Star Wars: The Old Republic" Soundtrack by Mark Griskey et al

I recently wrote a review for a soundtrack which (spoilers) I love - Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's a huge soundtrack which has so much to offer any fan of Star Wars or orchestral music in general. Check out my review over at Tracksounds.


Underneath the review you can also see my star ratings for individual tracks.

Do you love the Star Wars: The Old Republic score as much as me? Let me know!

Yours optimistically,
Thoroughmas

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Why You Should Check Out The Doctor Who Fan Orchestra

A few days ago the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra released their fifth piece, "The Impossible Astronaut (Suite)", which is a collection of Murray Gold's music from "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" episodes. This is an incredible collaboration, and here are the reasons you should check out the DWFO:
  • By The Fans, For The Fans
    There aren't many fan bases that could pull off something like this. It is an example of the huge scope of Doctor Who fans and their passionate commitment to the show. These are all people just like you and me from all over the world, whipping out an instrument and creating something very special.
  • It's Hard Work
    Everyone involved in DWFO spends incredible amounts of time and effort putting together each piece, but none more than the creator, Stephen Willis. Imagine the work it must take to not only put together and distribute sheet music for a range of instruments, but also compile hundreds of submissions into a high quality audio and video production.
  • I'm In It
    That's how nice and accepting this group of people are, they even let me take part! In the latest piece you might be able to spot me playing the piano and donning a bow tie.
  • It's Great Music
    Who doesn't love Murray Gold's work on Doctor Who? The music he creates is incredibly beautiful and exciting. Stephen Willis' arrangements in the DWFO capture this with astounding quality, when you consider that he is receiving hundreds of part submissions of varying quality from all over the world. Each of the five pieces performed by the DWFO so far have included superb selections of Murray Gold's score.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the DWFO's latest piece here:


Yours momentarily,
Thoroughmas

Monday, 17 September 2012

Google Music Desktop Player Review

EDIT 21/03/2014: The following article is now very out of date. If you're a Google Music user on Windows 8, you should definitely check out outcoldplayer in the Windows App Store. It's an excellent and often updated player with great aesthetics.

If you're a user of Google Music and Windows 7, you'll want to check out this Google Music Desktop Player that Victor Alberto Gil has designed.

I've messed around (played music) with it for a few days now, and here's some quick pros and cons I've come across:

Pros:
  • Keyboard Controls
    If you have play/pause media control buttons on your keyboard, they'll now work with Google Music.
  • Notifications
    When a new song begins to play a little notification appears.
  • Standalone
    Keep the music away from your browser. Your web browser is probably already full of dozens of tabs performing all kinds of everyday operations, what with email and social networking, so getting Google Music out into its own space is a good thing.
  • Last.FM Scrobbling
    Use Last.FM? No problem, it's built in.
  • Fast And Smooth
    The program launches quicky and plays songs fast, especially considering it's streaming.
  • Labs Features Work
    Want HTML5 or Star Ratings on your music? Turn them on in Google Music Labs and they'll work seamlessly with the player.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Malignant Morality in Doctor Who

Here is my little rant about actions taken by The Doctor in the lastest episode of Doctor Who. You can either read below, or listen here:




The following contains spoilers for the 2nd episode of the 7th season of Doctor Who, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", and everything that came before it.

"Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". I'm growing increasingly concerned for The Doctor's moral compass. I did think he might have lost it, but to my horror in this latest episode The Doctor stepped on it, smashing it into pieces. The moral compass that is, in case my metaphor got a bit vague there.

The question I have now is whether any of the characters in the show, or more importantly any of the writers behind the show, are aware that The Doctor stepped on it. Again, that's the moral compass.

Talents

I can count in many languages. Spanish, French, Indian, Australian. That's four.

Yours annoyingly,
Thoroughmas

Galactic Nationalism

I recently finished making this little flash game. It's pretty basic, and my third attempt at making something with Actionscript 3.0. But hey, it's got space and aliens and stuff!

Here's the entire thing for your amusement:


Yours indignantly,
Thoroughmas

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Barnaby Barnabus

Barnaby Barnabus The Third was the third Barnaby Barnabus to be King of Barnaville The Third, which was the third town to be named Barnaville. Tradition was very important to the Barnavanions (those who inherited Barnaville the Third). One day Barnaville The Third was attacked, destroyed, and Barnaby Barnabus the Third was killed. His son, Barnaby, became King of Barnaville The Fourth. The End.

The moral of this story: Everyone in the world should not be called Barnaby.

Yours erratically,
Thoroughmas

Review of "Hugo" Soundtrack by Howard Shore

How do you give a sense of magic and excitement to a film with only subtle, moderate doses of action, humour, romance or any other variation of dramatic flare? Well, Howard Shore brings a wealth of scoring intelligence to this commendable feat.


12-year-old boy Hugo stars in this Martin Scorsese film of the same name, which uses a French perspective to pay homage to early cinema. Howard Shore embraces this French perspective and pulls off a colourful soundtrack. While impressively energetic and entertaining, this score still manages to be imbued with, like the film, a subtle intelligence and emotional heart.
The album opens with “The Thief”, a track which encompasses every flavour present in Hugo. It begins with delicately mysterious piano which arouses a haunting sense of melancholy. The piece then builds into the main theme of the film: a light-hearted waltz which serves as the backdrop for the bustling energy of the train station depicted on screen.
The themes of loss and loneliness are explored further in “Hugo’s Father” and brought to minor emotional climaxes in “The Clocks” and “Purpose” - the latter of which is the audio representation of one of the main ideas explored in the film.

Many moments in the film feature comedic interactions between stereotypical characters, and this is reflected in the soundtrack. “The Plan” is an enjoyable piece which opens with Shore’s comic march. And while not very entertaining musically, Sacha Baron Cohen’s quirky character is represented on album with his own track, “The Station Inspector”.



These praises given, I am not totally positive in my adoration. This album still doesn’t reach spectacular heights by any means. The style remains the same throughout, and therefore the repetition becomes dull when listening through all 21 tracks. Rather than rising and falling in energy, the tone remains somewhat the same the whole way through, with only slight variations on the main themes. For this reason there are some pieces that I won’t mention at all, simply because they appear to be nothing more than a rehash of something heard a few moments before. Tracks such as “Ashes” tinkle along in the background, making little to no impression but satisfactorily filling the 1 hour and 7 minute runtime of the soundtrack.

Review of “Game Of Thrones: Season 2” Soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi

Ramin Djawadi is back to score the second season of the heavy fantasy show, Game Of Thrones. I enjoyed his work on the last season, but thought there was plenty that could be improved on this second time around. One thing's for sure though, we’re going dark places!


Even though it’s copied over from Season 1, the beautiful “Main Title” is back and worth mentioning. Easily the most epic piece of the soundtrack, its energetic drums and deep strings paint the scale and beauty of this huge fantasy story. “The Throne Is Mine” is familiar too - a rehash of some themes in the first season - but brilliantly portrays the dark and majestic world of this medieval upper-class society.
“What Is Dead May Never Day” is a fairly enjoyable atmospheric piece. It feels oddly constrained, but builds patiently into a rather rousing cacophony of strings.



Our theme for the character of Stannis and his journey to claim the throne is first heard in “Warrior Of Light”, which is - again - a very dark and brooding melody. This theme is built into its pure height of strength in one of the album’s few action pieces - “Don’t Die With A Clean Sword”, a heavy track which also features an anxious variation on the “Main Title” theme. Speaking of that main theme, “Mother Of Dragons” plays around with it in a gorgeous manner reminiscent of the “Finale” piece from Season 1.
Magic and mystery is squeezed into the mix through “Valar Morghulis”. The iconic mixture of sounds in this piece certainly achieves an eerie air.

“Winterfell” has a very slow and melancholy opening, but halfway through we are greeted by what I think of as “The Stark Theme”, which has also returned from Season 1. Stoic and sad, but also filled with hope - an emotion that contrasts with the majority of this fantasy universe.