Myst V -End of Ages- Soundtrack
Myst V -End of Ages- Soundtrack
September 20, 2005
Buy at Amazon
The Myst franchise is a musical patchwork of talent and, like the motion picture industry, the music torch is rarely ever carried by the same person throughout each entry. Following Uru, Cyan regained control of the Myst franchise and began preparations for the telling of the final chapter of the Myst saga. With Cyan back in command of the Myst ship, Tim Larkin was the destined composer of choice for the project, replacing Jack Wall of Myst III and Myst IV. Fans would not have to wait long to get there hands on the Myst V soundtrack. Ubisoft put together a limited edition containing the game, a making of DVD, the full soundtrack, prima strategy guide, and a collectible lithograph. Sadly the gift set fell just below expectations. An inappropriately sized version of the guide is the only full proof way to prevent someone from cheating and, while the soundtrack this time around was offered as an audio CD, it was merely sandwiched carelessly between the making of DVD and game disc. Regardless, within the first few moments of listening to the soundtrack, I was completely won over once again by Tim Larkin’s creative musical approach.
The soundtrack opens with a terrific, pulse pounding frantic driving cue, “Descent”, that’s layered with lots of percussion and subtle ambience. This cue will sound familiar to fans, as it was first heard in the Myst V: End of Ages trailer following the pan over Myst Island. “Beginnings – Atrus” is a very tender, almost mellow, piece of music highlighted by light percussion and a solo carrying piano making for a powerful, yet soft beginning. Tim Larkin tips his hat to peers Jack Wall and Robyn Miller with the beginning of “Great Shaft” having the same vibrating ambience effect that the Myst III theme featured. Riven is complimented too with the drum pattern sounding very similar to the Temple theme. Still, Tim shows much originality, selecting a charming flute to take center stage as well as his trademark obsession with the Australian Didgeridoo.
Only lasting just over a minute, “Villa” is a wonderful track that ends far too quickly, but contains a rich selection of moods. Beginning with ambience, a solo trumpet, performed by Tim himself, plays an old Platoon-inspired military theme for the duration of the track. Heavy percussion comes in strong at the tracks midpoint and stays about 15 seconds before being dialled out. A much more gentle percussion-driven cue is heard in “Laki”. The familiar trumpet theme from Villa returns again but this time is paired with a solo female vocalist providing the chorus. “Arena Reveal” was one of the earliest compositions for End of Ages as it uses the same drum pattern heard in the previous track and sounds as if it were something out of Uru. More uru connections appear in the extremely minimalist sounding “Tahgira Ice Fields”. The minimalist sound is very appropriate and the haunting beauty of the age is enhanced by imitated woodwinds echoing throughout. Each Myst composer in the franchise used music placement very carefully. Jack Wall seamed to prefer music as a constant source with each age having their own distinct musical sound, whereas Robyn and Tim would deprive an age of music until our character progressed past a certain point or entered a particular area of interest. Both techniques were successful and I prefer each method equally.
The “Beginnings – Yeesha” arrangement is well worth noting as it contains very subtle bell tapping or metal clicking against metal if you will. The arrangements are truly unique as there is never a definitive time for there to be a “bell tapping section” or a “piano section”. Slight ambience comes and goes and even with chorus being an effective enhancement in music, Tim sees fit to mix it sparsely at the end. All these slightly abstract arrangements show great uniqueness within the piece. A much darker cue is heard in “Noloben Lab” and where would Myst be without its dark suggestive themes? Beginning with what sounds like a harp, Larkin mixes it nicely with a light shake of the maracas and ambient percussion. The suggestively dark themes do remain present throughout the rather lengthy piece. I cannot describe the extra addition to the cue, but take it as you will that the track also has a “voice”.
The best way to describe “End of Ages” is very percussion driven. Tim creates a variety of clanking and pounding done on vastly different surfaces from what sounds like a hollow wood box to a metal pipe. Of course the cue does become more thematic with the incorporation of light brass and strings, but the percussion still remains layered on top before coming to a close with nicely mixed chorus. If memory serves me correctly, this is music heard in the E3 Trailer and film score buffs may pick up on this as being very much the style of Eric Serra. Various musical structures from Myst III are paid reference to in “Todelmer”. The familiar woodwinds from the main title theme and the ambience from Voltaic are subtly placed in amongst Tim’s well arranged percussion. One of those giant Chinese gongs occasionally clasps giving the music a sense of deep depth. “Todelmer” compliments the following track, “Time Machine”, as it uses the same underscored ambience, but also features some lovely string and woodwind work. Impressed by how much can be incorporated into the minute long cue, “Fighter Beach” is more pepped up then the two tracks it is sandwiched between. Starting with a gong clasp, a percussion pattern drives the track with a return of the military sounding trumpet work. Short, yet memorable.
The budget and scheduling of Myst V did not allow for a full fledged symphony orchestra, but listening to “Beginnings – Esher”, it would be really hard to tell that there wasn’t one. The opening is very similar to the ambient eerie ness Alan Silvestri used in his Flight of the Navigator score, but the track leaves the eerie tone and progresses to a pleasant solo violin performance underneath what sounds like a full string ensemble and mixed towards the end with a light winded flute and some percussion. The following cue of music is very dark, featuring a windy hollow sounding woodwind instrument and more Matrix-esque ambience. Noteworthy the title of this cue is called “Trapped” and the music sounds anything but jolly, perhaps a fitting composition for whatever scene it is composed for.
Wrapping up the album is the MYSTeriously titled “Myst” track. While the game boasts various suggestions as to its endings, the music remains neutral offering spooky ambience and gentle string, harp and piano. The album closes to the very lovely “Finale” track. Upon my initial listen, I recognized this as having been heard before on the Uru soundtrack. Digging the Uru soundtrack out, I was pleased to find the track heard in Myst V was a slight variation of “Yeesha Theme” from Uru. This of course made for a nice continuation as the track heard in Uru is fantastic. Running an impressive six minutes, it allowed for Tim the opportunity to build on a series of themes and expanded his established “Yeesha Theme”. Not giving any clues to the ending with his music, the first half of “Finale” is lightweight, peaceful, and magical, but roughly halfway through the music slows down and becomes darker with a constant repetitiveness in the percussion area. The last few seconds close to an amazing ringing of bells capped off with a cymbal clasp.
At least with the debut of the Myst franchises, video game music released separately on CD was not quite as popular as it is today. However, the combined efforts of hundreds of people and dedicated record labels would allow fans the opportunity to listen to all six Myst albums outside of their game environments. Tim Larkin’s Myst V: End of Ages Soundtrack is a good way to round off the franchise with its blend of new compositions and references to the past. After more than 12 years, the Myst franchise has come to a close leaving fans and gamers alike with a lifelong impression. For everyone involved, the results have been rewarding and the experience life changing. Few dared to follow in such a quest, and their success has lead swarms of unworthy imitators. Snickered at by doubtful peers, Cyan’s Myst franchise rose and stands as a pinnacle of adventure gaming. Six games, three composers, and a legacy of music fills and compliments lovely graphics, rich sound effects, amazing storytelling and everything else that would simply become known to the world as… Myst.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Seinmind. Last modified on August 1, 2012.