Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quick Review: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Music composed by Andrew Lockington
Orchestrated and conducted by Nicholas Dodd
Recorded and mixed by Brad Haehnel
Recorded at Newman Scoring Stage (Fox)
Album time: 68 minutes
Available on Sony Music

After Andrew Lockington's outstanding score to 2012's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, he returns to the adventure blockbuster with this Percy Jackson sequel.  

Clearly in his comfort zone in scoring, Lockington went beyond by utilizing more electronics and expanding the orchestra - from the highest highs to the lowest lows.  Here is a rundown of the album.    

Thalia's Story begins with mysterious vocal solo (Thalia's theme), and then the pace picks up and we get the first rendition of Percy's theme.  The melody stays pretty clear in the brass, with strings showing off some fast passages while electronics pulse underneath.  Thalia's mysterious theme appears again, eventually joined by the strings, building to the end.  This new material isn't relying on Beck's melodies, but fits nicely into the same world.    

Percy At The Lake is a tender track featuring strings and harp.  Action begins quickly in Colchis Bull, electronics supporting frenetic strings.  The strings build with whirling electronics in the background.  The Shield Is Gone features Thalia's motif again, string joining with a melancholic tone.  Percy's theme appears in The Oracle's Prophecy.  The low brass introduce a darker motif, with a bit more mystery and menace.


Cursed Blade Shall Reap begins with a nice moment with strings and harp and later features Percy's theme passed through different instruments, building throughout.  Wild Taxi Ride starts with a big build-up (and a slide whistle, to boot).  A electric bass takes over, with some interrupting percussion and lots more synthetic elements.  Percy's theme gets passed around as the orchestra gets more frenetic, involving more percussion, drum loops, and vocal percussion before rising to a finish.  It's a goofy and fun track, and makes "The Knight Bus" from Harry Potter seem tame.


Hermes opens with a noble horn solo before beginning the quasi-military sound, with flute and snare drum.  Pizzicato is used a lot, giving it a playful sound (and an interjection of smooth jazz).  The horn returns with a tender touch.  Hippocampus is a nice track, with a nice building of the wonder-filled hippocampus motif and then a fleshed out Percy's theme.  Onboard the Yacht is full of suspense, with dissonant moments and charging string patterns.  Wave Conjuring begins with another vocal solo version of Thalia's theme.  As the longest track, several themes are passed around, and plenty of Lockington's signature styles are shown.  The electronics become heaver with the action moments, with plenty of wordless choir moments.  There are of course some dramatic rises and falls before the a grandiose section of choir and orchestra, before the track ends peacefully.

Sea of Monsters relaxes a bit, with tender harp and string moments and some past themes recalled.  There are some sweeping moments as the choir enters, eventually leading to Thalia's theme.  Belly of the Beast picks back up into the action, with fast moving strings, booming percussion and sizzling electronics.  Brass take over Percy's theme after a horn call.  New Coordinates has a pop montage sound for most of the track, a few themes make appearances, before ending with a large finish.

Polyphemus begins with the low strings, before repeating the horn call.  The same call leads a percussion-heavy action sequence.  The other long cue, Thank You Brother starts off mysterious, which eventually turns somber, with Percy's theme reprised in the slower setting.  Halfway through the low strings lead with a charging ostinato, and the track rises to a heroic climax.  

Kronos is full of a mix of orchestral sounds - tremolos in the strings, very low brass and whirling electronics.  The low brass and chanting choir take charge, and Percy's theme is quickly stated in between the string ostinatos.  The theme is given a full front-and-center rendition midway through, before the horn call shifts material.  Annabeth and the Fleece is a relaxed track, with more thematic returns.  Resurrection features the female solo in a more majestic version of Thalia's theme.  This is obviously the transformation that the character has, as well as the thematic transformation Lockington set up from the beginning.  The rest of the track is more hopeful, with the horn playing Percy's theme.  

Like his score to Journey 2, his Main Titles arrive at the end of the album.  Starting with Thalia's theme, before building to a heroic-sounding Percy's theme with a pop electronic sound.  The album ends with To Feel Alive, (written by Tiff Randol and Lockington) and sung by IAMEVE.  The song isn't bad, and it helps having a connection to the score.     
                    
It's not as fist-pumping or rousing as his scores to Journey and Journey 2, but overall, an enjoyable listen.  The synths really don't get in the way of the orchestra for me, although they might to some listeners.  While Lockington's techniques work well, his rhythmic patterns in the strings become more uninteresting as the album goes on, something that didn't bother me in his past scores.          

While often having musical climaxes, the themes don't allow them to really shine, or have the heroic moments heard in his other scores.  While the material is fine, there aren't many standout moments that pull you more into the score.  It is, in my opinion, still a step up from Christophe Beck's score to the previous Percy Jackson film, which was bland for an adventure score.  This score is more in the league of Lockington's score to City of Ember - a workable score with a handful and really great moments.    

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