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Planet of Lana

With its striking visuals inspired by Studio Ghibli, Planet of Lana is a platforming video game featuring a girl and her cat which achieved positive notices on its release in 2023. Notable to readers of this website is its stirring music composed by Takeshi Furukawa, one of my favourite scores of the year. It starts off with a very Thomas Newman-like main theme in “Progeny” (the kind that Newman himself doesn’t really do any more – orchestral, warm, a whimsical melody) but from there Furukawa engineers a full-blooded orchestral adventure score. The theme briefly appears again at the start of the second cue, “Tailo Village”, before a wonderful, sweeping secondary theme emerges. The pair of themes go on to dominate the score but never in a way that feels repetitive: the composer does a lot with them, and there’s always some standalone set-piece just around the corner.

The first of these is the pretty intense action cue “Invasion”, based around a catchy little motif which endlessly repeats as the orchestral forces grow around it. “Peculiar Encounter” is like a playful variant on the sand people music from Star Wars, and then there’s a delightful theme for the cat in the brief “Meet Mui”. “Cave Murals” is a great cue, contrasting ethereal vocals with much darker orchestral colours; then there’s a film noir (specifically, Goldsmith noir) feel in the mournful “Shipwreck”. There are a couple of songs on the album too, blending seamlessly with the score, Siobhan Wilson’s beautiful voice complementing Furukawa’s orchestra very nicely. The best cue, the one which people are going to play a lot, is “Desert Chase” – it begins innocuously enough with a gentle rendition of the main theme before the orchestra soars away and treats us to a rousing action/adventure cue. Really though, the whole album is a delight – the best game soundtrack I’ve heard in quite a while – its 55 minute run time seeming to disappear in no time really. It’s a gem.

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  1. Jose (Reply) on Sunday 25 February, 2024 at 20:04

    It is indeed a very delightful album. Furukawa is a talented and promising composer.

    Check his video game score for which he’s more known for: The Last Guardian. It’s a great one.

  2. dr.doom (Reply) on Monday 26 February, 2024 at 17:06

    great score but we now have his magnum opus avatar the last airbender which is a much better version of james newton howards score.even in the same style.i like it even better than rings of power and ahsoka.

  3. Ian Simpson (Reply) on Wednesday 28 February, 2024 at 12:25

    To my ears, this game soundtrack incorporates many elements that I associate with Thomas Newman’s best film scores – not just the use of piano over pads and strings as in “Progeny”, there are some stylistic similarities also with the writing for strings and oboe and the chord sequences.

    This is meant as a compliment not a criticism – after all many of the great John Williams’s film scores similarly build upon the style of Erich Korngold and others. It’s also particularly welcome here for, as the review mentions early on, Newman doesn’t write this kind of music anywhere near as often as he used to. Many other composers have tried to incorporate elements of Newman’s style into their own, without really “getting” what makes them work, and have just sounded like poor imitations. But this game soundtrack mixes elements of the Newman sound with other elements to very good effect.