Composer Jeremy Soule has an leg-up on his contemporaries, because TES V, for all its flaws, is a landmark title in the history of the medium, and shaped the formative gaming experience of a generation. As with film scores, the video game composer has the daunting responsibility of bonding the viewer to the drama unfolding before her, before the logos of the central character’s plight even takes root in her mind. Soule has it even tougher, because in this open-world setting he can’t know which path the player will take, his archetype, his favorite weapon. (For fellow PS3 owners, it was the reset button or the manual save option.) His compositions must relate to every player. I won’t speak for others, but every note brings me right back to Skyrim without fail.
The Start button is right on the main menu, so it’s easy to click right away and miss the triumphant swells and thundering chorus of “Dragonborn” before your first play-through. Tamariel’s landscapes alone can absorb even the marathon adventurer, but there’s no escaping the flute in “The Jerall Mountains” as it cascades over the horns like a gale over snowy peaks, or the dreamy piano as the light of “Secunda” casts it’s gaze over the jagged rocks of Falkreath. “The Bannered Mare” enlivens the umpteenth town hub filled with stale dialogue and pockets to be picked… if you’re into that sort of thing.
Yet here I am selling it to those who have already been to Sovngarde and back. I’m convinced these tracks are fully accessible to the casual listener, sans the closing, masturbatory “atmospheres”. And for those unable to pick up a mouse or controller, come listen and learn that “Far Horizons” is a only drop in an ocean of gorgeous music.