New year, new Forza. Turn 10 Studios is still behind the wheel, the horizon once again presents us with various racing trophies and medals, and in the pit-stop, for the second time now, Kaveh Cohen and Michael Nielsen. In the previous game, two Ninja Tracks composers made use of well-worn mixture bringing orchestral sounds and electronic music together. Back then, we heard what could be Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for the film Rush. What have they prepared for Forza Motorsport 7? And is it any good?
The Cohen-Nielsen duet presented us with two hours of solid and reliable rock music, which serves as high-octane fuel to our emotions in between races. We’ve got overdriven electric and bass guitars, drums, synthesizers… And the result is a time machine or perhaps a ‘70s/’80s postcard, which brings to mind the works of such giants as ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC (Blown Open sounds like a mixture of the two latter!). The soundtrack of Forza Motorsport 7 is not only blues and rock, though – there are parts of it which resemble funk and metal (Chip Away could be a Judas Priest song, and I have a feeling Daft Punk definitely had something to do with Sucker Punch). The composers thus reimagine the greatest hits, masking complete absence of vocals with guitar pedals, and invite us on a journey through heavy sounds of the past century. Importantly, they do so while abandoning a certain feature of previous Forza’s soundtrack – pathos
The Cohen-Nielsen duet presented us with two hours of solid and reliable rock music.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As is often the case with racing games, story comes and finishes second. More often than not, with story pushed to the side, music also loses its momentum – not only because it’s more difficult for us to create an emotional bond with the soundtrack, but at the same time because the soundtrack itself makes it more difficult (through, for example, lack of recurring melodic themes). The less emotions there are, the less we will remember the music. Here we arrive at the first problematic question: just as Forza Motorsport 7’s score is great in technical terms and serving its purpose in-game, it will be easy for us to forget it once the game is no longer running. What we have here is more of a two-hour rock station commission album (or a previous century’s rock bands’ best-of) rather than a classic soundtrack; as a matter of fact, we probably wouldn’t hear much difference if the developers once again had decided to use licensed songs. On the other hand, it’s an interesting lead – to make the OST sound like a collection of licensed pieces.
More so because there aren’t many tracks that emerge from the whole soundtrack enough to mark their presence in our memory
…and if the Forza Motorsport 7 radio station was to play this two-hour audition from start to finish, another problem would emerge: monotony. Although the very soundscapes of certain tracks differ from each other pretty heavily, the instrumentation along with structure remain very similar. In the end, after some time we either feel like turning the music off or are exposed to a certain audial anaesthesia. More so because there aren’t many tracks that emerge from the whole soundtrack enough to mark their presence in our memory – each of them is unique, but they are good colleagues at best; melomaniacs will rather search for friends. Most of the pieces suffer from lack of a catchy theme, melody or rhythm, which would make us fall in love with them. This could partially be the effect of no vocals – we’re not used to daydream with karaoke versions of the songs, after all.