Symphony For Our World – Soundtrack Review

This fantastic collaborative album does a great job of showcasing our planet in a beautifully orchestral manner.

Symphony For Our World was created for National Geographic, and was composed by Austin Fray and Andrew Christie in collaboration with the rock band X.Ambassadors. Together they have created a score to represent Earth and all the nature within it, and they have done an absolutely fantastic job.

The score opens with Overture, the main theme for Earth composed by Austin Fray. It begins with slow strings and low vocals, and slowly builds up over its 3 minute runtime to a soaring, epic theme sung by the X.Ambassadors with brass and percussion backing it. Overture is a breathtakingly beautiful piece that does a great job of representing our world, and that is why it is the standout cue on this album.

Vibrant Reef begins as an upbeat, adventurous piece that sounds similar to James Horner’s Avatar in places, before descending into much darker and sinister territory towards the end. Like much of this album it does a very good job at orchestrally representing it’s specific element of nature (here being coral reefs). Shark Horde is more intense and dramatic, utilising heavy brass and percussion to serve as the theme for sharks. This track also sounds a lot like Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers in places, so it is interesting to wonder if the composers looked into scores of this type (epic and adventurous) before composing, as the album contains a fair amount of references to them.

Gentle Giants reprises the main theme from Overture in a much slower and more dramatic way, using brass rather than the vocals provided by X.Ambassadors as the forefront. I assume this piece is meant to represent whales or ocean dwellers of that type, as the music sounds very much like a theme those animals would have and the title seems to nod in that direction as well.

The score then goes in a completely different direction with Penguins, a fast paced track that sounds like it is constantly in a hurry. It is upbeat and uses strings and woodwinds for the most part, until towards the end where things get epic again as the strings soar in a very beautiful segment. This dramatic style is used again in Symphony For The Land, where things start off slowly before building up with brass into an amazing fanfare. Unfortunately however the track ends there before building up into something more, which is a bit of a shame.

The American West is a darker, yet very heroic piece that again sounds very similar to Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers in places. Like much of the score it starts off quiet with strings at the forefront before building up into soaring music with brass taking over, once again well representing its element of nature.

So far, it has become apparent that this score has two distinct main styles, with several others in between that don’t show up as often. The first is an epic, sometimes dark style that uses mostly uses brass, and is not dissimilar to Transformers and music of that calibre in places. The second style has a much faster, more upbeat but still epic manner that utilises woodwinds and strings more, and sounds similar to Avatar at points.

Arctic Monkeys uses the second style, using woodwinds as its forefront with percussion in the background. It is a very “epic journey” sounding piece, where if it was in a movie the main character would be starting off on a long walk into the wilderness. This track contrasts completely with Avalanche, which uses the first style in a short and loud fashion to represent the speed and ferocity of such an event.

Lions And Llamas starts off with piano, before switching up to brass as it builds up and then explodes into rapid and exciting music. It only does this for a short time however before changing back into soft piano, and then shortly afterwards ending the track. Like before this is a shame, as with further expansion I think this cue could have been even better.

Overall Symphony For Our World is a brilliant-sounding album that does a very good job of representing planet Earth. The Overture piece in particular is amazing, and is a standout main theme for the score. When listening to certain tracks it is easy to identify the animal or element of nature that they are representing, and that is a significant feat. However, this album is not without its issues. For example after a while it is easy to hear how the music is going to go, as the two main musical styles become apparent. This makes the score a tad predictable and boring in parts.

Also, most of the tracks are under two minutes long which is a shame for some as they are often cut off before really getting going epic-wise. The composers seem to like to build up from soft and quiet to loud and epic frequently in this score, which would not be a bad thing if it weren’t for the fact that due to the short nature of the tracks they spend most of the time building up and not a lot showing off how amazing the fully built-up music can be.

It is obvious from this album how talented the composers are, so it is a shame that other than in Overture there isn’t really much chance to hear them shine. Still, overall I think that they have done a great job on this album as Earth is very well represented musically. This alone is a fantastic achievement.

Score:  6/10

Standout Cue:  1. Overture

 

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