I feel somewhat proud of this review’s title, and at the same time, glad that it allows me to hide my ignorance when it comes to the newest DLC for the fourth instalment of the assassins’ adventures. Anyway, I just finished familiarizing myself with Olivier Deriviere’s another flagship. And while Remember Me OST remains his trump card, being a slightly better designed album, it would be an inexcusable mistake to underestimate Freedom Cry. The kind of mistake that’s punishable by walking the plank.
Deriviere’s compositions are gripping, but not in the clichéd, Hollywood style. They mesmerize the listener with their “airiness”, subtlety and flair. The key word here is Freedom, rather than Grandeur. Attack at Sea, On the Freedom, A Boat to Freedom, High Seas and False Paradise are prime examples of superb musical narration with the use of string sections. Violins, violas, cellos and double basses depict both calm and stormy sea (The Storm, High Seas) with equal ease, giving place, if necessary, to less subtle means of expression: either those coming “straight from the tropics” or choir parts. The album features an excellent Haitian vocal formation called La Troupe Makandal, with their traditional songs and distinctive timbres of voices. Narration is mainly carried out by the string sections of the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, so Deriviere doesn’t rely on the choir’s talent excessively: you could say that, instead, he treats this element like a precious spice. Fortunately, there are tracks dominated by the vocal exoticness: United, Governor (ominously emphasising its voodoo-like, apocalyptic sound) and The Freedom Cry.
The use of La Troupe Makandal reminds me of Alone in the Dark, in which Deriviere collaborated with the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. Back then, it didn’t have much success, but at least the idea was acknowledged. Freedom Cry is a totally different story. And while there are some minor similarities between Freedom Cry and Remember Me, they stem solely from the composer’s style. Seeking them out is quite entertaining: the games are two different worlds, after all.
The composer combined Hollywoodish grandeur with the standards of European classical music and a touch of exoticness. Remember Me and Assassin’s Creed VI: Black Flag – Freedom Cry prove the maturity of the composer, who never lost his valuable eagerness to experiment. I think I can safely say this is the best Assassin’s Creed soundtrack of the post-Kyd era. My verdict is the following: the greatest flaw of Oliver Deriviere’s last two albums is that they still haven’t been released on physical formats. The rest is music.
Translation – Marcin Moń (FTL Translations)