Enemy Zero Piano Sketches
Enemy Zero Piano Sketches
October 25, 1996
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One of the most remarkable features of the survival horror game Enemy Zero was its music. Designer Kenji Eno managed to get celebrated British composer Michael Nyman, most famous for his film score The Piano, on board with the project. At the start of the project, Nyman produced three ‘piano sketches’ — key themes created by improvisation on the piano. These melodies formed the thematic basis of the soundtrack and were featured in both their original versions and in chamber orchestra arrangements. Two months prior to the game’s release, the Enemy Zero Piano Sketches were made available to give a taste of the full soundtrack and the atmosphere of the game.
The album opens with the “Love Theme”. As expected from a sketch, there’s not much going on — just chords in the left hand and the simple yet creative melody in the right hand. This is carried over into the next section more elaborately but it never gets overly dramatic. There’s a brief B section before the main melodic hook comes back in, which works well. It’s nevertheless great that Nyman included some of the romantic side to his music here, giving the music some emotional weight to go with the unconventional harmonies. The main soundtrack builds on this theme with two particularly impressive orchestrations, “Aspects of Love” and “The Last Movement”, not featured here.
The theme for the main character, “Laura’s Theme”, is also a simple piece. It rarely moves away from its simple backing line, comprising thirds using the notes of a D major 7 chord. While this is going on, the right hand is able to play a slow and simple melody over the top. This simplicity really gives the impression of the shy kind of character that Laura is, and really drives home the feeling of isolation that this game does so well. This theme was also built on through the main soundtrack, notably with the vocal track “Lamentation” and the orchestration “Laura’s Dream”.
The final sketch, “Digital Tragedy”, just uses octaves at the beginning but is played with such conviction that it’s really effective. This transitions into a creepy chromatic melody in the top line with interesting bass and harmonies underneath. Again this piece is simple yet really effective.
These piano pieces exemplify what Michael Nyman does best, creating dramatic and effective music using very little, which is what minimalism is all about, and makes for fantastic stand alone listens. They’re very simple when compared to some of The Piano soundtrack, but incredibly effective for the game. That said, it is better to listen to these tracks in the context of the main soundtrack. These sketches were a fantastic preview of the game, but have now been superseded by the full soundtrack.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Joe Hammond. Last modified on August 1, 2012.