Review Summary: An exciting and smartly written package of electronic ambience and cinematic tension.
Solar Fields proves that he can take his signature electronic ambient sound and give it a cinematic overhaul that works coherently throughout. He incorporates pounding to soft beat rhythms, sharp to subtle glitchy tones, and well placed melodies and bass-lines. The end product shows a varying contrast of atmospheric tension with heart-pounding action, ultimately making it an exciting, yet still ambient electronic album in its own right.
Being a soundtrack, each track represents a level in the game, most clocking in at just over seven minutes. Each track creates two general moods, the calm and the action and will often shift between the two, sometimes surprisingly smoothly and seemlessly. But the overall atmosphere is quite endearing, creating a sense of prowess and openness, which inevitably fitted perfectly with the game as the player used free-flowing parkour to traverse the vast brightly coloured cityscapes.
But enough about the game, the album also works on its own purely as an album to listen to while you're running, writing and so on. Unlike Solar Fields' work on Movements which possessed more smooth, drony soundscapes and slow rhythms, this album feels more free-flowing and melodic, unafraid to develop its soundscapes into motion.
Let's first look at the more atmospheric sections. "Introduction" for example reprises the "Still Alive" theme (not that one) and creates a drifting rendition with a notable lead synth. But it also allows room for musicianship in use of bass, soft glitchy beats and drums. Sections of "Heat" and "Boat" also incorporate this well. Tracks like "Shard" and "Kate" possess more prominent rhythm lead melodies which work to create more overwhelming tension.
Then the more aggressive chase sequences are very impressive, with notable examples being the sections of "Jacknife" and "Edge and Fight". These movements pound the listener with strong ticky and glitchy rhythms, hard bass beats and pumping melodies, generally throwing a lot at you but without feeling at all cluttered. These parts in particular just show how clever and smart the songwriting is and proves Solar Fields doesn't just excel in the ambient department.
Then we come to the final two tracks, Lisa Miskovsky's "Still Alive" and its instrumental. The song, although a change to the rest of the album with its more pop influenced sound and catchy vocals still maintains the level of atmosphere of the album. It's a complementing finish and certainly a sing-along hit.
Overall, I recommend checking this out if you're into electronic music, whether that be ambient or hard-hitting aggressive. The album provides a clear and consistent atmosphere that never loses weight and is a solid piece of work.
(Correction: Release Date - May 2009)