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Chicago Fire: Season 1 by Atli Örvarsson (Review)

posted Jan 27, 2015, 4:22 PM by Kaya Savas

Television scoring has taken leaps and bounds over the recent years with the boom of cable TV series. There is still a difference when you look at network television versus cable television when it comes to a dramatic series. A cable series usually has season long arcs with a shortened episode count (i.e. Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Knick). A network series will usually have a higher episode count and a narrative that is in itself more episodic, meaning the episodes are not as tightly contained (i.e. NCIS, Law & Order, Person Of Interest). Chicago Fire falls in that latter group. These types of shows make it really difficult for a composer to craft a traditional score. It’s often joked that these are all scored by ominous tones. Thankfully one of the more melodically driven composers out there found himself in the TV market. Atli Örvarsson has surprisingly been able to inject emotionally driven and melodically engrossing music into his scores for not just Chicago Fire, but Chicago P.D. as well.

Chicago Fire: Season 1 definitely acts more as a sampling of Atli Örvarsson’s thematic material for the series. Creating an album from a season of 24 episodes is never easy, especially when it’s for a show like this. So what we have here is actually a pretty great collection of moments. You won’t find an overall narrative arc of the show within the music presentation, but the score presented here is a great selection of emotional highlights. The Season 1 album focuses more on those heroic highs and lows. Taken on its own one may assume it’s very melodramatic, but keep in mind we are being given a whole platter of the exciting moments as well as the deeper emotional currents. If you listen to the Season 2 album you will notice more focus was put on character moments in that album. Overall though, Atli delivers the goods and injects his melodic sensibilities into a genre of TV that is known simply for “ominous tones”.

Chicago Fire: Season 1 may be your typical network fluff, but Atli Örvarsson jumped into TV after already having established himself as a premiere film composer. He learned the ropes working on huge blockbusters, and then creating a sonic style of his own for his solo projects. He has now taken that school of learning and injected it into network television, and the result I must say is pretty refreshing. It’s great to hear old-school thematic work like the stuff from the 90’s infused with heroism and emotional undercurrents. Chicago Fire: Season 1 is well worth checking out, as is the Season 2 album.