Lair Video Game for the Sony Playstation 3



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Lair by John Debney

High Score: The New Era of Game Music  - Tracksounds Special Feature






Lair (Soundtrack) by John Debney

Lair (Soundtrack)
Composed by John Debney
iTunes Release (2007)

Rating: 10/10

Buy and download from iTunes


Listen to this soundclip of Lair (Soundtrack)Diviner Battle (364 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Lair (Soundtrack)Diviner's Theme (378 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Lair (Soundtrack)Mokai Theme (367 kb)

Listen to more clips on the Promo review


“Homages and nods included, the soundtrack for LAIR plays like a wondrous amusement park ride for the musical soul.”

John Debney in Full Flight
Review by Christopher Coleman

Some weeks ago I was privileged enough to get a musical glimpse into the world of LAIR. I reviewed the 5-track promo in as glowingly a manner as I ever have for any promo - significant considering it's brevity. Still it was well deserved as the quality of composer JOHN DEBNEY's work was very clear in just those 5 selections.

Fast forward to early October 2007, a few weeks after the game's exclusive release for the Sony Playstation 3, the full soundtrack release of LAIR is released on iTunes. I was among the many who scurried to download it despite my overall dissatisfaction with the fidelity of iTunes tracks. It didn't matter...I wanted to hear the rest of Debney's work bad enough to set aside my own private boycott.

Now, I must make it plain that I have not played LAIR yet...and believe me the tempation was great with the release of both LAIR and HEAVENLY SWORD. After the somewhat disappointing buzz about the controller issues in LAIR, I finally decided that HEAVENLY SWORD alone was not tempting enough to invest in the whole shabang. So this review is centered on the merits of Debney's music alone.

Being both thoroughly entertained and impressed by the 5-track promo, the question that ate at me for weeks was "what layeth in wait" in the full soundtrack release? Ah. If I thought that all the best bits were released on the promo, that notion was quickly erased with my first listen of the iTunes soundtrack. For those of you who have also not yet played the game, I'll just tell you that LAIR offers track after track of cinematically epic stuff! The score is one of the rarities that the listener can really sink their ears into!

As I mentioned in the promo review, JOHN DEBNEY, while endeavoring to enhance the gaming experience, evokes memories of some of the film industry's great composers. It was not hard to find the influence of the great Miklos Rosza and John Williams coursing through LAIR's veins and now with the full release in hand, their influence goes beyond just the circulatory system but help to form a large part of the score's skeletal foundation. While the biggest influence sounds as if it is John Williams (both of the classic and present-day Williams varieties), there are moments when my ears dance around with a bit of Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner and fellowship with a moment of Howard Shore as well.  Homages and nods included, the soundtrack for LAIR plays like a wondrous amusement park ride for the musical soul. Triumphant fanfares and clashing battle sequences are counterbalanced by peaceful, retrospective and sometimes solemn compositions. LAIR ends up being one of the most stimulating and satisfying listens of 2007. 

There are some 12 tracks that I'd classify as action pieces.  That's quite a few if one is thinking in terms of a feature film...but this "playable cinema" allows for, no...demands, a lot more action.  One of Debney's best action pieces is frothing with John Williams. "Diviners Battle" (3) is a fantastic piece who's backbone is likened to Williams' "Battle of the Heroes" from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Now, what one calls a "homage" another calls a "rip." From my view, I see this as a flattering homage to the great Williams of old and well-seasoned Williams of today.  In the track you can pick up sections that seem to fall right out of the world of Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars trilogy. Truth be told, its a more satisfying blend than Williams, himself, pulled off for his second trilogy of Star Wars scores. (yes...go ahead and step aside if you don't want to be hit by the bolt heading the author's way.)   Other action sequences of note include: "Blood River" (6), the belligerent "Serpent Strait" (8) the determined "Firestorm" and the tension-filled "Deadman's Basin" (16).  There's enough action music here for even the heartiest orchestral thrill-seeker, but there is more to LAIR.

Counterbalancing all of this action are reflective tracks like "Funeral Pyre" (4) and "Civilization Theme" (5), where I have visions of Ben Hur's main squeeze, Esther.  The music he wrote for her remains one of Rosza's most romantically captivating themes.  Finding a contemporary means of employing such a theme is quite a feat.  One of the other central themes used frequently throughout is established most beautifully in "Rohn's Theme" (7) where the vocal talents of TANYA TSAROUSKA and THE LONDON VOICES help to elevate the piece to rapturous levels.  Their vocal brilliance continues in track 9, "Darkness Theme" and also "Mokai's Theme" (17).  Debney's moments of reflection are just as intricate and satisfying as the high-flying, battle pieces.

Honestly, there are only two complaints I have with this release - both minor.  First, this release does end a little awkwardly in that after "Epilogue" (24), a pretty solemn piece, things are ramped back up to a fever-pitch with two big action sequences: "Bridge Battle" (25) and "Bridge Attack" (26). While I'm certainly thankful that both of these pieces were included, the final track (26) leaves my ears on a musical-cliffhanger. I suppose the ancient marketing technique of including the words "BONUS TRACK" would have solved this minor discomfort.  On the other hand, perhaps its marketing few want to be left in the lurch, the natural cure would be in starting the soundtrack over again.  This is my personal solution and recommendation to any listener who finds themselves with a similar feeling. Second, an iTunes-only release is doing John Debney's work an extreme injustice.  Few scores are more deserving of a proper CD release this year, so let us hope together for any legal roadblocks to be crossed and a sensible arrangement worked out with some record label in near future.

With only two months remaining in the year, 2007 is certainly not the strongest years for film scores, but without a doubt it is one of the strongest for video game scores. LAIR is certainly a big part of the reason why.  Year to date, there simply hasn't been a single feature film score that has evoked from me the emotional response that LAIR has.  So it is with no hesitation that I give LAIR the highest Tracksounds rating possible and likewise there is no 2007-release that I recommend more highly.

Read the review of the LAIR Promo release hereRating: 10/10


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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Lair Main Titles 2:15  *****
2 Lair Main Menu 2:23  *****
3 Diviner Battle 4:17  *****
4 Funeral Pyre 0:53  ****
5 Civilization Theme 4:00  *****
6 Blood River 3:34  *****
7 Rohn's Theme 2:06  *****
8 Serpent Strait 2:24  ****
9 Darkness Theme 4:03  ****
10 Firestorm 3:56  *****
11 Elegy 3:27  *****
12 Diviner's Theme 2:08  *****
13 The Last Straw 2:40  ***
14 Lost 2:12  *****
15 Breaking the Ice 1:32  *****
16 Deadman's Basin 2:58  *****
17 Mokai Theme 2:17  ****
18 Return to Mokai City, Pt. 1 1:51  *****
19 Return to Mokai City, Pt. 2 3:36  ****
20 Runs of Mokai 1:04  ****
21 Bridge of the Ancients 1:32  *****
22 Loden 1:52  *****
23 Battle for Asylia 4:10  *****
24 Epilogue 3:21  *****
25 Bridge Battle 3:34  *****
26 Bridge Attack 2:06  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 70 minutes  




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