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Fable Original Soundtrack :: Review by orion_mk3

Fable Original Soundtrack Album Title: Fable Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Sumthing Else Music Works
Catalog No.: SE-2014-2
Release Date: February 15, 2005
Purchase: Buy at Amazon | Download at iTunes


One of the entries in Sumthing Else's Xbox catalog, Fable represents something of a rarity (though it is becoming more and more common): a major film score composer working on a video game. In this case, Danny Elfman, famous for his work with Tim Burton, was brought in to write the main theme, while Russell Shaw, composer of Black and White, was drafted to flesh it out into a complete score.


Elfman has worked in this way many times before, contributing themes to Pure Luck, Novocaine, and Heartbreakers, among others, but his main theme has much more in common with his more recent Spider-Man and Planet of the Apes scores. Dynamic, percussion-heavy, and with a full choir, the theme is built around a malleable 7 (or 8, depending on the variation) note theme that captures the darkness inherent in the game's concept without servicing the fantasy aspect too much. The approach is light-years away from Lord of the Rings, and is perhaps more suited to a superhero, but manages to fit very well.

Russell Shaw clearly studied Elfman's body of work and adopted the composer's signature motifs for several cues in his score. "Oakvale" is orchestrated and performed like a cue out of Edward Scissorhands, for example, while "Arena" features Elfman's trademark ascending brass notes. On the whole, though, Shaw limits himself to referencing the "Fable" theme, which is heard in one form or another in virtually every track on the disc.

Shaw's own musical voice comes to the fore in tracks like "Temple of Light" and "Bowerstone". "Temple" is the only synthesized track on the disc, and features a mystical, distant, almost new age feel, while "Bowerstone" is a quirky plucked-string delight that evokes an upper-class, uptight atmosphere.

The album does suffer from more than its share of dud tracks, however. "Lytchfield Cemetery," for example, is atmospheric and plodding — good for setting a mood but of little use outside of the game. And the final two tracks, taking up almost a fourth of the total running time, are extraordinarily dull Gregorian chants. I normally cherish choral elements in soundtracks, but the chants found in Fable are repetitive, shrill, and totally uninteresting, and they end the disc on a very weak note.


Overall, there is much reason to recommend the album — Elfman's theme, Shaw's original work, and variations — but the number of dull dud tracks brings the album down considerably. Elfman completists, and anyone who enjoyed Lionhead's other scores, will probably get the most out of a purchase.

Overall Score: 7/10