Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2023 September 18 • Monday

Merrill Jenson's score for Windwalker is the 796th Soundtrack of the Week.

The main title is a lush and gorgeous orchestral piece that sustains and swells while subtle percussion additions add nice sonic touches. It unexpectedly veers into dissonance at the end.

Wooden flute starts off “Love Flute and Birth”, or perhaps two flutes, one low and one high, in a call and response. A shaker, some chimes and hand percussion all delicately embellish the melody. Strings appear about halfway through to add another layer.

The birth theme gets a response in “Tashina’s Death and Search”, which has what sounds like harpsichord playing in unison with the flute while bass, strings and harp generate a beautiful sonic environment for them.

Long bowed bass notes and violent swipes at the harp strings create an ominous feeling for “Crow Village”, which also has wooden flute as its main voice. About halfway through it explodes into a full-orchestra action cue.

“Burial Ground” isn’t lighthearted but it starts out kind of swinging before flowing in a dramatic and romantic direction. Near the end it sounds like peril, though.

Swirling harps, sustained strings, triumphant brass pronouncements, a return of the “Birth” flutes, percussion, all combine for an intense “Resurrection”, which starts out sounding like Star Wars before veering into Star Trek II territory.

Something playful is usually appreciated after something as forceful as “Resurrection” and “Little Warriors”, while still solid and powerful and beautifully composed, does have a sunny frolic sort of energy to it.

The full orchestra is deployed at a high energy level again for the tremendous “Bear Kill”, which brilliantly alternates between dense and spacious, eventually having solo flute introducing a theme that gets taken up by the orchestra.

Flute and harp introduce “Return of Grandfather”, eventually joined by strings playing long tones that introduce an element of unease.

After a brief harp, piano and percussion bit of unusual timbres, the orchestra announces a surprisingly conventional-sounding fanfare for “Final Battle”. After that, there are fewer instruments and more space, giving a sense that the dramatic conflict is being played out by these instruments themselves.

“Walk in the Wind of Eternity” revisits the main theme, the “End Titles” start with a triumphant fanfare for brass before bringing in the strings for a soaring last hurrah.

Finally there’s a mini-suite for the last track.