Puppeteer, the PS3 exclusive platformer was an absolute blast to play and I loved it from start to end. One of the reasons was the way how sound was used to create a live theatre production and now as a soundtrack release, the orchestra is in fine form.
Opening with the rousing “Kutaro” we get a rousing theme with overflowing string segments before the short “Moon Bear King” goes for low brass plunges like a monstrous beast plodding through low gravity stomps. It characterises him in a single minute perfectly. “The Moon Witch” gets her theme delivered well with intricate woodwind and strings interplaying with the xylophone to create a quirky and unsure melody with a French twist. “Pikarina” is light and gentile with lots of string plucking and melodic pianos. The production pushes the actual plucking sound and strumming of the guitar right up to the ear – it’s great to listen to.
“Land, Already!” is mischievous with clumsy brass and a double bass wacking out the main melody. “Open Gate” is the first track over two minutes to deliver a skulking and deliberate track that draws out each note to its fullest. “It’s A Traaaap!” is suitable dramatic with its Disney-esque witchy delivery and plenty of amazing string and brass interaction. There’s huge scale to the ensemble and it’s here where it first really pushes everything out the speaker. “Onward and Upward” keeps up the drama with a marching stride and a regal theme that evokes pride, stamina and victory. It also has an RTS victory theme feel to it! “Woe Is Me” is a piano led track which is heartfelt and sorrowful with a hint of accordion and strings backing it and again lending the soundtrack to a French vibe which it dips into throughout.
“Tea Party” is playful with harpsichord and wooden percussion playing one melody and fluffy woodwind becoming the tracks voice. It’s like a garden theme park theme. The instruments stay for “This Saturday Morning Cartoon Is Over!” where drums are added for this mischievous track that could easily be placed into LittleBigPlanet – it’s got that saucy quirky vibe which that series loves so much. “Monkey See, Monkey Do” pushes further down the circus route and the Disney soundtrack feel. The thickness of the strings shines through here. “Fire the Long Toms!” then switches it up to a Celtic feel with a beautiful violin leading the way. Think a midget dance at Rohan and you are there! Thankfully it’s one of the soundtracks longest tracks and it’s one of the best.
“Ahoy, Moby!” straddles space odyssey, fear and dread in 90 seconds with its composition and delivery. It’s changes gears several times but is fascinating to listen to. It flows into “Danger” which keeps the energy on high as the orchestra doesn’t quite explode but the tension is constantly there as the notes switch up in a fast and furious frenzy. It’s “Slithering Scourage” that explodes into an overbearing theme as the strings work their magic for a huge theme.
“Across the Plains” changes the vibe entirely for a sparse western inspired guitar track. You can feel it fitting perfectly to a cowboy riding into the ranch to meet their fate. It’s beautifully played, composed and recorded. It switches to a more villagey section and Spanish theme for the closing segment which sounds a million miles away from everything that’s come before it. “Horse and Bull” keeps the showdown electric guitar and places it at the head of a waltzing string section. It’s really effective and creates a whole new character in the soundtrack. “Bullfight” then combines all that’s come before it for a flamboyant Mexican track that grows and toys with the listener.
“Hallowee Ville” is a longer track too that again changes themes and pushes the spooky harpsichord vibe to the fore. It’s very cinematic and feels like a movement rather than a track. “City in the Fog” moves more towards creepy before “The Gateway to Earth” gives us a huge single riff that repeats and iterate as it starts to boom and blast itself. It’s dramatic and full of bass tom drums that make your bones rattle! “I’m Not Done With You Yet!” then releases the riff and starts to push the dramatic edge home again in the final third of the track. “Stop That Monster!” ends the dramatic section with a great hurrah. The soundtrack is then completed with the beautifully rousing and hearty “The Hero of the Moon” which celebrates the entire soundtrack and ties a bow on it.
As orchestral soundtracks go, Patrick Doyle’s compositions are fantastic and this is one of the best. Each track is very focused and short and whilst I’d have maybe enjoyed a second run through of some of the tracks, I appreciate that there’s no filler here. Pulling all the strings, Puppeteer is an amazing soundtrack – highly recommended.