December 1, 1999
Buy at Official Site
Conceived by Ruben Monteiro in 1997, Immortal is the first album in a four part series featuring remixes of Amiga music. The album is dominated by Monteiro’s interpretations of the music from Shadow of the Beast, Turrican, and his own Dafel: Bloodline. In addition, it features guest contributions by a number of Amiga composers, including Barry Leitch, Allister Brimble, and Björn Lynne, who arrange their work from popular games such as Harlequin, Project X, and Alien Breed 3D. The remixes generally aren’t of the most cutting-edge or transformative sort, but they’re nevertheless generally enjoyable interpretations of the originals, which are scarcely available on other albums.
The album opens with the remixes of the soundtrack to Shadow of the Beast. Anyone who played Psygnosis’ classic platformer back in the day will remember David Whittaker’s breathtakingly dark soundtrack to the game. Though not every theme is present on Immortal, all the memorable tracks are there, ranging from the howling “Intro” theme to the action-packed “Beast’s Stronghold”. Ruben Monteiro’s remixes generally assert a Hülsbeck-esque pop flair with their thick synthpads and drum beats, though tracks such as “Eerie Forests” and “The Cavern” still feel the characteristic organic timbres of Whittaker’s originals. While these remixes offer an enjoyable perspective and provide the game an album release, the original music is actually still more impressive from a compositional and technological standpoint.
While Shadow of the Beast is the main focus of Immortal, there are eleven other game scores featured thereafter. Among the major highlights are Barry Leitch’s medleys dedicated to Harlequin and Utopia; the Harlequin remix captures all the abstract imagery of the game with its rich synthpads, while Utopia is a slow-building reminiscence with some lush evolutions in timbre. Another delightful contribution is Jochen Heizmann’s new age homage to the unreleased title Space Station 3000, though be warned that there are some abrupt transitions. Allister Brimble also offers two straightforward but charming offerings, the quasi-futuristic Project X and the playful, surreal Superfrog.
That said, there are a number of weak arrangements here. In an age where remixes from the Turrican series are numerous, Monteiro’s contribution here is of average calibre. The blend of synth work and piano passages is quite mesmerising and the development is often beautiful. Nevertheless, some parts have an amateurish quality and the sampling could be better. Least impressive are Darryl Sloan’s offerings from The Final Odyssey, Blockhead II, and The Strangers that, while stylistically diverse, tend to be brief and simplistic. Given these tracks are quite numerous, they make a big impact on the quality of the final product.
Easily the finest addition to the entire album is Björn Lynne’s Alien Breed 3D. In terms of synthetic ambient soundscaping, this track is the most mature and immersive, despite the relatively humble technology used to create it. Nevertheless, it has plenty of subtle melodic hooks, compelling beats and rhythms, and even some sound effects throughout to ensure it also has a mainstream appeal too. The final result is highly immersive throughout its eight minute playtime and entirely satisfying by the conclusion. Along with Barry Leitch and Allister Brimble’s contributions, this remix demonstrates the goods that composers can bring when revisiting their original material.
Overall, Immortal features memorable music from an impressive range of Amiga titles and is therefore bound to bring a lot of delight and nostalgia to those who played the games a couple of decades ago. A lot of tracks, particularly those from Shadow of the Beast, The Final Odyssey, and Turrican, are somewhat unimpressive as remixes though and are mainly carried by the original melodies. Furthermore, the samples used in most tracks definitely have a dated feel and this will be a detriment to those expect cutting-edge remixes. These features won’t be a problem for those looking to revisit the originals in a relatively untransformed form and, given the originals are generally not available, such consumers will form the majority. However, listeners wanting something more ambitious and wholesome should check out Immortal 2 and Immortal 3 instead. Either way, Immortal features a great concept and provided a good foundation for later entries in the series.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.