Trailerhead: Saga Review
Trailerhead:Saga is the second installment of public releases from the highly prolific production music company Immediate Music.
The album contains 14 powerful tracks selected from Immediate’s previously studio released Themes for Orchestra and Choir series one through three. For those that don’t know or in case this is your first review of an album of such, allow me to briefly explain just who Immediate Music are and what it is they do.
Immediate Music are a production music company based in Los Angeles, California who specialize in composing and arranging music to score trailers for major motion pictures. Their music has only ever been available exclusively for studios and trailer houses. With an ever growing fan base of this genre of music, a small potential niche on the commercial market opened up. With Immediate leading the way, they released their first public album in 2008 entitled Trailerhead of which Saga is the follow up.
The tracks in question have been literally striped bare from their original versions and remixed and rearranged with brand new choral and instrumental pieces added in. One can even hear the “Globus” influence on a particular track. Trailerhead:Saga is arranged in such a way that it comes across as though the tracks are individual chapters, all of which contribute to a greater musical story. This story is never actually stated or defined as such by Immediate but instead allows the listener to tap into their own imagination and take on that responsibility.
What Immediate have done here is a very intelligent arrangement, as many of the tracks featured do not suit as listening material in their original versions as that was not the intention of the composer who wrote the track. The reason for this is perfectly stated by Yoav Goren in The Story Behind Trailer Music Live:
“Music for movie trailers is a unique genre, it has to invoke emotion a completely different way than that of a pop song or a classical symphony. With trailers I get to tap into the most intense emotions, the medias pieces in a very short amount of time”
The album opens with “Hymnus Orbis” (Original track: “Hymn” – Themes for Orchestra & Choir).The track acts as a perfect intro with a gentle choir taking control and a slow moving instrumental piece acting as a backing giving the track the perfect stability it needs.
“Glory Seeker” (Original track: “Def Con” – Themes for Orchestra & Choir 2) arrives reminding the audience just what Immediate are all about. The track opens with heavy brass and underlying drums setting the mood before proceeding into the def con rhythm and choir showcasing the epic ness of the piece. Things die down to a somber of swellings and hisses only to rise again at 1:53 to repeat the motions of the opening of the track this time with the inclusions of more instruments and takes on a tone of epic proportions before coming to a close.
“Libertas” (“Liberty” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir) opens with a single guitar set to a gentle instrumental and choral backing before suffering severely from a possible Globus influenced heavy electric guitar which to me sounds completely out of place here especially since the original track is one of my favorites and electric guitars are not an instrument that I would associate with the arrangement of this piece. After that slight mishap we are back on form with the continuity of the track remaining true to the original with the choir slightly heavier in tone and orchestra respectively lighter, both of which compliment each other rather nicely.
“Invictus” (“Divide and Conquer” – Themes for Orchestras and Choir 3) differs slightly from previous tracks, it allows the orchestra to be the dominant driving force with the choir acting as back up this time round. The track really just sounds as a mix of the choir and non- choir versions from its original counterpart. In terms of listening enjoyment, in contrast to other tracks it is probably the most bland track on the album as it becomes quite repetitive from the 1:50mark.
“Oratio Sanctus” (“Holy” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir) starts with a slow piano melody with various instruments gradually been added before joined by a gentle choir which takes a more bold tone around the 2:00 min mark with the final build coming in at 2:30.
“Emergence of Empire” (“Rising Empire” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir 2). My favorite track on the album and by far the most cleverly arranged. It starts off identical to “Rising Empire” but unlike “Rising Empire” it contains two builds. At the start we have both the choir and orchestra in harmony with each other slowly rising to the first build at 0:45 where the orchestra takes stage showcasing impressive strings and heavy percussion until the second build at 2:10 where both choir and orchestra play out and eventually bring this epic piece to a close.
“In league with Cerberus” (“Final Omen” and “Blasphemy 2.0” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir). This particular track is again cleverly arranged with two original tracks from TFOAC merged together into one. It actually took me a few repeat listens before I realized as such. A revved up “Final Omen” with a synthesized touch leads the way with an early build from the start. The track dies to an underscore of swells and hisses at the 1:20mark before blasting into “Blasphemy 2.0” at 2:00.
“Darkness on the Edge of Power” (“Dark Side of Power” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir 3). This track is building from the start with the immediate stabbing choir then the deep piano giving way for heavy strings to dominate your ears with the brass ever to teasing in the background. When the choir have had their say, we get thrown full swing into the melody of the piece with heavy percussion being an ever dominant force in conjunction with the strings. The choir comes back in on the final build at 2:13and continues on in full power for the minute before promptly coming to a close.
“Ashes of War” (“Love and War” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir) is a brilliant sweeping track driven mostly by the orchestra. It really does depict something epic. Epic in a more subtle way as it does not share the same bombastic properties of some of the other tracks on here. To me its the track that allows one to reflect on the story of the album so far and brings you back down after the high of “Darkness on the Edge of Power” giving the album the correct balance it needs up to this point.
“World On A String” (“Global Crisis” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir 3) brings us back to the epic orchestra and choir. The track doesn’t really differ much form the original until about the 2:30mark where the high octane rhythm is set against a slightly electronic influenced backing.
“Salvation for a Proud Nation” (“Proud Nation” – Themes for Orchestra and Choir 2) is a track that seemed to please many fans when it was revealed that it would be featured on the album… And for good reason. The title pretty much sums up the tone of this piece. A gentle opening melody begins before being joined by a very simple drum rhythm with tribal vocals backing it up. It then bursts into full orchestra up until the 5:05 mark before being toned down slightly for the outro to take stage, gracefully bringing this piece to a close.
“Fatum Plebis” is the only track on the album with a heavy electronic influence. You would think that because of that it would suffer severely. One will probably be thinking is this another orchestral piece ruined by people remixing it? Ruined? No. Remixed? Yes… But to a rather good effect.
“Darkness On the Edge of Power” is featured again here only as a live version which really just showcases how immediate sees this piece as such a pivotal track for the album.
“Surrender To Hope” (“Believe” –Themes for Orchestra and Choir 2) is the ideal track to finish off the album on. In its own way the arrangement gives a synopsis of the album by its use of instruments in question as they were all featured in most tracks. It is the perfect piece for the Immediate team to bow out on and some what tease the listener that there is more to come and that this part of the saga is over so keep a sharp eye on the horizon.
Overall, Trailerhead:Saga delivers on all levels. For the die hard trailer fan to the occasional listener, it provides a unique listening experience and truly showcases how powerful this genre is becoming. With track arrangements cleverly thought out and planned for listening enjoyment, Immediate Music have set the bar as to how a public album is to be presented and once again proved that they are king and give Two Steps From Hell a run for their money showing them that they might not be the Invincible company on top this year. I await anxiously for their next installment.