If you loathe electronic music, I will save you the ten minutes of your lifespan it would take to read this article and let you go about your business. However, if the pulse of ambient, layered synths is music to your ear, then by all means, hang out for a bit and experience what is in my humble opinion one of the best electronic albums of the past year, which also happens to be the official soundtrack album for Forza Motorsport 3. Smooth curves, chill breaks and sample tuneage ahead.
Let's get this out of the way. Nope, I haven't touched Forza 3. Do I intend to? No again, simply because my driving game skills are horrible. So, that said, if you aren't playing it either, (Warning Sign: Watch for Bad Puns) don't let that stop you from taking this album for a spin, especially if you love electronic beats. Released by Sumthing Else Music Works last month, the Forza 3 album features a dozen songs that stand alone and sequence perfectly as a linear listening experience. The music is composed by Lance Hayes, better known as DJ Drunken Master (or DJDM if you will). The really unique thing about this release is that all the music here comes from the game's User Interface. Yep, an album made up of menu music that is utterly amazing. Surprised the heck out of me, too.
If you don't want to take my word for it, there is a fantastic quote in the liner notes for the album, where the game's audio director, Greg Shaw of Microsoft's Turn 10 Studios states: "Many times throughout the development of Forza Motorsport 3 I would leave the game on just sitting in the UI so I could listen to the UI music." That is a very powerful statement on the quality of Hayes' tunecraft, one which I completely agree with. I've literally lost count of the number of times I've listened to this disc over the past month, going as far as leaving the disc on repeat all day long for several days straight. It is that good.
As you are hearing, the emphasis is on more ambient, chill out or "hipster hotel" (as Greg Shaw calls it) styles of beats. Throughout the album, you will hear influences from the acid jazz scene, hooks that would feel at home in a James Bond movie and some definite Asian influences. This next piece even reminds me of the grooves David Holmes built for the Ocean's 11 film series.
As video game soundtrack albums go, what this one accomplishes in near perfect fashion, is listenability away from the game. You don't need to have driven around Forza 3's environments to enjoy the sounds engineered by Lance Hayes. Do you need some background ambience to study to that isn't over the top? This album is it. Do you need something mellow for your commute? Try it out. Oh, and there is that whole being a fan of the Forza series thing, which, I can only guess you either already have this or didn't put your controllers down long enough to know it existed. The Forza Motorsport 3 Original Soundtrack is available now in physical form from Amazon and Best Buy and download via Sumthing Digital and iTunes.