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Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu $4.75
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
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Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2012 21:04:59

James Semple’s compositions for Four Shadows are beautifully conceived and performed, and they capture exactly the right tone of an investigation-based Cthulhu mythos game. Including both a “pulp version” and a “purist version” of the Trail of Cthulhu theme is a brilliant move (if you’re not familiar with Trail of Cthulhu, those are the two game styles described in the rules) and the music fits each label perfectly. Neither theme, however, is a “loop while playing” kind of composition, so their usefulness is really rather limited. The other two tracks, “Ruminations” and “Anagnorisis,” are wonderfully cinematic—but, unfortunately, rather too cinematic. Despite each track’s modest length (3:08 and 3:14, respectively), both exhibit definite movement and progression. Such distinct changes of mood, crescendos/decrescendos, and so on make the tracks ill-fitting for a freeform RPG where anything might happen. Therefore, while the music and the production values are of absolutely the highest quality, the product doesn’t well serve the purpose of scoring a Trail of Cthulhu play session. You could, I suppose, wait and play the tracks at just the right moment, once through instead of looping. The Eternal Lies Suite, also by James Semple’s team, serves better. Get Four Shadows for simple listening pleasure, not for constant background music during your game.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by William G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2010 03:16:43

The music is excellent.

I was however surprised that 2 of the 4 tracks were only 1 minute long.

Anagnorisis 03:13 Pulp Trail of Cthulhu Theme 00:59 Purist Trail of Cthulhu Theme 01:01 Ruminations 03:07

I would have felt better about my purchase if I was aware of the track lengths and that the total music time was only 08:20

The 1 minute themes are meant to be "opening credits" music for your adventure. I love that, but 1 minute seems of limited use as once offs at the beginning of each play session. My players can take that long to realise there is music playing and thus settle down.

The other two tracks can loop fairly well for 20-30 minutes which is fine for they are intended to be used at specific points throughout an adventure, not the entire soundtrack.

I would like to see future releases build on this great work providing for different scenes, and more tracks that can be looped in with these for "downtime", research, exploration, etc

I do hope this composer continues to put out excellent original pieces - I am quite happy to pay a premium for them as compared to buying Original Sound Tracks of movies, but I do expect there to be some length to future work.

I have given this product 3 stars: 4 for the excellent quality of the music - original, full, professional, and appropriate to the genre. -1 star because I expected 4x 4+ minute tracks not 2x 3 minutes and 2x 1 minute

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Matt M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/03/2009 08:10:16

Trail of Cthulhu: Four Shadows is a collection of four songs designed to be played during your Trail of Cthulhu game. The titles of the songs are: Anagnorisis, Ruminations, Pulp Trail of Cthulhu Theme and Purist Trail of Cthulhu theme.

The variations in the theme songs are for the two, different styles of play. I thought that these compositions fit the bill of what background music for gaming should be. Each of the songs has a broad focus with enough variety of sound and pitch to keep the music interesting. Ethereal choirs, a full symphony and some unusual sound effects flesh out the compositions, which average about three minutes in length.

Four Shadows is an excellent collection and well worth picking up.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/15/2009 09:40:53

Some fascinating and evocative music here - both suited to the nature of the game for which it was written and - being original compositions - something that will not distract players from the matter in hand as they identify music they already know.

The first track is a scene-setter, to get players into the mood for the game. If you have trouble getting your group to stop chattering and focus at the start of a game, you could use this track as an indication of "Now we are starting to play..." It's often beneficial to set limits like this, demarcations between everyday life and the alternate reality of your role-playing. (Or is this the teacher in me talking?)

Next is one billed as a 'pulp' theme - excellent melodramic stuff that should get everyone on the edge of their seats ready for whatever surprises you have lined up. Good to use as an alternate start or if you think people are beginning to drift... or perhaps as a mood-changer when you go from one of the more investigative bits to an action scene.

The track 'Ruminations' is a thoughtful piece, and aimed at those investigative scenes, or for while the characters are trying to sort out what all the hard-won evidence actually means and what they are going to do about it. It conjures up a misty and slightly menacing night, and could be used to equal effect when the characters are sneaking around not knowing just what they are going to find.

The final piece is intended for the moment it all falls into place. It somehow manages to combine spooky with inevitable and almost peaceful... even if things in any game with 'Cthulhu' in the title are anything but peaceful and never the way things Ought To Be! It's quite cinematic, so should work well if you like a dramatic finale.

As always, I'm as likely to listen to this as inspiration when writing adventures as to actually play them during a game, but then I don't like background music in films unless there's a band of musicians in shot!

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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