Stephane Picq and in particular Pierre Esteve are highly underrated VGM composers. I put it down to the face they make music for the generally disliked Cryo point and click games. However while the games are budget, the music is absolutely top notch. Atlantis: The Lost Tales is just one of the examples.
Disc 1 opens with the magical and mystical chants of “Sunriders”, every bit an epic opener with timpani bashes and woodwinds floating around climactic vocals. That paves way for “Awakening” a slow moving ominous piece with a near oboe sounding solo before a collection of eastern percussion gradually filters into this meditative song. “Rhea” is pure mysticism, with dark sultry female mellow chants faintly in the distant with various tuned percussion and harps playing out a delicate melody that intrigues and invites you in more as the song continues. It’s here you really notice that the sound quality of the instruments is pretty much realistic.
“Ancient Winds” is another ambience section in a meditative state before “Am Ma Eya” explodes into your ears with one of the most rousing two and a half minutes of tribal madness and dulcimer usage I’ve heard for a long while! Definately a favourite. Think Enya on the darkside!
“Pretress” brings us back down to echoey vocals and some beautiful keyboard works all in the name of ambience again, its very much like a lost Ico track that’s been destressed. “Crystal Winds” is another mysterious piece played almost entirely on what sounds like a glockenspiel with chimes helping out. “Para Nua” is quite a random song, like a tradional celebration dance for a tribe or a secluded village. It is extremely primal and that’s what I like about this soundtrack, it takes you back to musics roots.
“Back to Atlantis” gives us a beautiful piece which is either played on a zither or a lute, I can’t quite tell but either way its a beautiful serenade before “Spitzberg” gives us another very subdued ambience piece that kind of confuses me in places as the drums are particular jarring when they begin and the track doesnt really grab me so much.
“Stonehenge” is another mystical tribal piece with some stirring vocals almost like traditional Bulgarian vocalists and excellent tuned percussion.
“Dream of the Owl” is another aborniginal piece with dark woodwind that is good to listen to if you’re difting off to sleep as it adds more and more to the mix over time. “Dream of the Dolphin” is even more ambience, I guess you have to like ambient musings to get on with this soundtrack, but again is very well done. Disc 1 then finsihes with “La Lune” an ever growing and expanding guitar based piece. While some may find this piece, and several others too long, I find you need these lengths of time to really get your mind into the framework. A bonus track is found after a few minutes silence here too which is excellent.
The much shorter Disc 2 then brings us more of the same. “Dark Spirits” is very much an extension of the superb “Am Ma Eya” only in some respects very much a step up in urgency and distress. “La Tisseuse De Destins” continues the distressed brass juxtapositioned with etheral vocals until it settles to another excellent eerie mysterious piece of xylophone galore. “Dream of the Rat” is a bit bizarre and random in places but keeps you on edge as the tension builds throughout with zithers and timpanis having their turn to shine. “Coq Rouge” then gives us what sounds like the closest to a hide and seek track on the soundtrack and is probably the most straight forward musically yet it doesn’t lose anything by being that.
“Metamorphosis” returns to the eerie echos and detuned pussive madness that you’ll love if you like this soundtrack, before “Muria” gives us some devine vocals and gentle glockenspeils again. “Nightmare” gives us a digeridoo and animal noises to chew over before “Labyrinth” is complete ambience ala “Ico” if you’ve heard that. Everything is distorted to distant echoes and is intruiging to listen to. The closing track “Aube” is a woodwind piece that is gentle and passing into dark and leaves you just as intrigued and mystified as the first track did when you started listening!
If there’s a place you want to go and get lost in, this is the place to go to. If you find a barrier that every song must have some kind of massive hook and bassline then I suggest you stay well clear. However this album, if it clicks, will be one you play at nighttime for many a year to come.