Acclaimed composer Luc St-Pierre, whose impressive body of work spans a wide range of styles and genres (and includes the Academy Award-nominated documentary Prisoner of Paradise), took a more experimental path for his score to Thief: Directors Cut, the revival of the historical action-stealth game franchise from Eidos Montreal and Square Enix which hit stores late last month. Sumthing Else Music Works recently released St-Pierre's haunting, experimental music for Thief, and I was immediately blown away by the haunting, often frightening strains of this rich symphonic/electronic hybrid.
Working with the Filmharmonic Orchestra Prague (whose mile-long credits include Nathan Barr's score for Hostel, and one of my all-time favorite metal albums, The Great Mass by Septicflesh), along with several session artists playing exotic world instruments and his own synth and electro-acoustic manipulations, St-Pierre has woven a moody dark ambient tapestry that not only compliments the adventures and multi-layered mysteries of the game's Robin Hood-style antihero Garrett, but is equally impressive as a stand-alone work full of dense, complex textures, abstract drones, exotic colors and some seriously creepy sound effects.
Luc St-Pierre and Filmharmonic Orchestra Prague
While there are plenty of impressive action cues to be found here, the abstract shaping of sounds and the integration of regional instruments left the strongest impression on me, and would create just as impressive an atmosphere for an intense horror film as for the sly exploits of the game's master thief. Buzzing and ringing synth tones add extra jolt to orchestral cues like "Entering the City," while they take center stage for pulsing ambient tracks like "Meeting The Baron" and "House of Blossoms," which sports a warm but very threatening bass line.
Deep, dark and lurching suspense cues like "The Accident" and "Thief Taker General's Face-off" are filled with lurching ostinatos reminiscent of Daft Punk's amazing score for Tron: Legacy, also expanding the story's broad historic canvas; the rhythm guitar-driven "Uprising" provides a surprising jolt of coarse, pulse-pounding action, and the slow swells of strings blend seamlessly with bass synths and industrial noise in the disturbing "Absolution" and “Meeting Orion.”
I was quite surprised (but delighted) at the level of experimentation St-Pierre brings to the Thief score – a quality which brought me back for a repeat listen to discover new layers of intense and disturbingly beautiful sounds. This release joins Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 as one of my favorite game soundtracks of 2014, and fans of gothic, dark ambient and neo-classical music (not to mention horror and suspense scores) will enjoy wrapping themselves in its folds of sonic darkness.
You can pick up a digital download of the Thief soundtrack directly from Something Else Music Works, as well as from iTunes, Amazon and other digital vendors.