World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Original Soundtrack
Mists of Pandaria marks the fourth expansion of the World of Warcraft MMORPG universe. Though one could never in good conscience refer to previous expansions' music as sub-par, with Mists of Pandaria, the mammoth 78-minute musical score is given new rich texture and eloquent artistic flair by long-time expansion series composers Russell Brower and Neal Acree, the legendary Jeremy Soule, and a host of other contributors including Sam Cardon and Edo Guidotti. As with Blizzard Entertainment has made available a soundtrack release to its fervent, millions-wide audience — packaging a physical release with the collector's edition of the game, and making a digital release available commercially.
This most recent World of Warcraft expansion presents Pandaria, home of the reflective and somber pandaren race, whose highest virtues are that of patience and strength. Inasmuch as the pandaren celebrate life to its fullest, their heritage also yields a heavy-handed governance of the interaction with their ancient homeland. As the story goes, the last pandaren Emperor, wishing to save Pandaria from destruction, struck an agreement that sequestered his realm from all outside contact and influence for the ten thousand years leading up to the Mists of Pandaria expansion. It's only fitting, therefore, that the Mists of Pandaria score masterfully incorporates elements alluded to by the realm's rich history and birthed by the careful, quiet knowledge of the pandaren. The score depicts a world untouched by outside corruption and therefore wonderfully exotic and foreign, while not without its own share of tumult and calamity expounded upon in the game. With a story more rich and affecting than previous World of Warcraft expansions, Russell Brower and team have been able to create a completely different score than the more comparatively rudimentary fantasy fare of previous soundtracks.
The opening track "Heart of Pandaria" glides through building, overlapping layers during its eight minute playtime. Russell Brower introduces the title with the bombast of an action-packed modern film score, promising teeth-gritting excitement. Choral vocals, soaring strings, and piercing horns recorded with the Northwest Sinfonia recall the MMORPG's past. Traditional instrumental solos gradually introduce the album's telltale Chinese idiom and are sensitively incorporated. The cinematic cue "Why Do We Fight?" from Neal Acree further develops the score's Eastern vibe, with its rousing percussion and staggering forays of instrumental elements. Both pieces reflect that the atavistic and almost omnipotent nature of Mists of Pandaria's aural content, contributing to the continuance of the ancient beliefs of the pandaren and their hapless world. Russell Brower has indeed taken these motifs to heart; Mists of Pandaria bares its soul with the tonalities and forces of traditional China, melded with Western orchestral instrumentation.
Highlights such as Brower's "Sha (Spirits of Hatred)" and Acree's "The August Celestials" take listeners on vast journeys. The former begins with atonal, weightless gongs interspersed with low-octave, wispy swells of male choral vocals, reminiscent of the darker-tinged forays of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, before it dissipates into ghostly layers of scathing female vocal patterns upon a foundation of echoing strings. The latter flips the sound over, starting with a faint, solo flute as an aural ray of sunshine peeking through dreary clouds, before melting into a calm, eldritch beauty and then to a collection of docile yet tumultuous vocal assault. Another substantial highlgiht, Sam Cardon's "Townlong Steppes" opens with stifling wind gust samples and bathes the listener in sinister swathes of string, horn, and woodwind sounds before the wind samples reappear and gestate into a perilous crescendo.
"The Wandering Isle" opens an epic three-part suite entitled the 'Canticle of Shen-Zin Su'. Combining tear jerking ehru solos with epic chanting, the track channels influences from Chinese opera, while serving a striking complement to the on-screen visuals. "Temple of the Five Dawns" continues to exhibit Mists of Pandaria's cultural Chinese provenance in its eclectic, cascading harp introduction, but also starts to recall more traditional fantasy scores with its horn-driven forays. With "The Traveler's Path", the momentum of the score is stopped cold by the album's only song, per se. The male's vocal is certainly plesing and the structures are fascinating, but its presence really causes the score to lose its traction. The suite closes on an eerie and cold tunnel of female vocals and Eastern aplomb once more.
The Chinese influences of Mists of Pandaria continue to shine through with some of the album's later additions. In one of the evocative performances by Cynthia Hsiang, the guzheng passages of "The Path of the Huojin" set a mystical scene, which is accentuated by female choral vocals and then enveloped by faster, dissonant orchestration. "The Path of Tushui" takes the listener on a more personal journey, shifting from a softly militant mood, through inspirational, victorious, and finally to reluctantly curious segments. The close of the album draws near with "Wisdom of Yu'lon," as motes strangely evoke more theatrical and independent emotions, before the Mists of Pandaria central theme is brought back to the surface. "Stormstout Brew" deserves special mention only due to its zany short-lived sound far removed from the rest of the score. Jeremy Soule's "Serpent Riders" is also somewhat detached, an orchestral march exhibiting a strong Americana feel, but still serves as an impressive capstone to the experience with its commanding composition and performance.
Though the quality of the Mists of Pandaria score is not unique to this World of Warcraft game expansion, Russell Brower and his team have really gone out of their way and created a hugely authentic and tactile fusion of fantasy-based orchestral elements and Chinese-based instrumentation. In comparison to previous expansions' musical content, Mists of Pandaria contains highly effective mutations of prior MMORPG fantasy sound, given more meditative and diverse qualities by nature of its aural etymology. The result is a breathlessly exciting work whose emotion translates to long-term memory and serves as a perfect example of how to integrate otherwise foreign sounds to a lauded and long-running series. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is sure to be yet another long sought-after soundtrack for game players and score collectors alike.
Included with the Collector's Edition of the game.
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Вышел саундтрек World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
Heart of Pandaria
Why Do We Fight? [Cinematic Intro]
The Wandering Isle
Temple of the Five Dawns
The Traveler's Path
Way of the Monk
Sha [Spirits of Hatred]
The August Celestials
The Path of the Huojin
Valley of the Four Winds
The Path of the Tushui
Go Ask the River
The Golden Lotus
Wisdom of Yu'lon