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A Warrior's Odyssey by Penka Kouneva (Review)

posted Oct 3, 2012, 9:21 PM by Kaya Savas

I am a believer in the fact that music must be able to stand on its own. If music doesn't stand apart from the picture then it usually means it's a weak score. Flip this around and it goes the same for the picture. If the image cannot stand on its own then it's a weak image. Only when the two standalone mediums of storytelling combine is when something magical happens. For A Warrior's Odyssey we get something truly special from composer Penka Kouneva. Penka has worked on composers' teams on many blockbusters such as Transformers, The Matrix Revolutions and Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End. This album is a standalone album, but it's inspiration and emotion is deeply rooted in images. Over her many years composing for films, TV and games she has amassed many different genres under her style. What this album does is express all that in a uniformed action experience. She channels mostly her work in video games and her work with Steve Jablonsky to craft a true musical expression.

The music here is telling a story that could have been plucked out of a film or a game. The arcs and the emotions are all flowing and they carry the listener on a terrific journey. Her European voice comes through loud and clear as she is definitely channeling her human experiences growing up in Bulgaria. She blends those classical sensibilities with modern sounds and textures that demonstrates a very well honed control over the music. The melodies are simple and elegant, but have a strong emotional presence. It's very easy to add layers of textures to music and have it become a jumbled mess, but that's never the case here. The action tracks are structured terrifically with rising and falling action that keeps the tempo moving when it needs to. Then we have a few quieter tracks that build subtle emotions such as "Forgotten Steeples", which happens to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. The fact that this is not a score to a film or a game she is able to incorporate some more varying styles and sounds, but it still manages to blend into one beautiful journey.

A Warrior's Odyssey is a must listen for anyone who loves the blending of classic sensibilities with the modern sound found in films and games today. Kouneva establishes a strong central voice for what clearly has her deep personal stamp on every note of music. The album is structured very well and within 30 seconds you'll be sucked into what feels like a narrative score to a film. A wonderful effort and a wonderful experience for the listener.
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