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Saturday, November 29, 2008


Quantum of Solace
Music by David Arnold
J Records 88697 40517 2 (US)
24 Tracks 61:41 mins

This latest outing for the re-imagined James Bond is the first direct sequel in the long-running franchise, and has arrived to mixed reviews, for the most part saying it doesn't quite live up to Casino Royale. As I wasn't a big fan of that film and, as this is apparently even less like a true Bond film, I suspect I won't like it much either.
As for the music, well, I'm pleased that one element has stayed the same, in that David Arnold continues to score the pictures. His latest effort, whilst still incorporating some of the elements established by the John Barry scores, relies less on them than ever before. Instead, Arnold has started drawing on his own past efforts, well, Casino Royale, at least, by utilising his Vesper theme from that film within the score; a natural thing to do of course, as here Bond is out to gain revenge for her death. Of course, the James Bond theme is present, moreso than in Casino Royale, appearing in a number of interesting arrangements throughout the score.
With an absence of humour, gadgets and bedroom scenes, it's possible to liken these new Bond films more to the Jerry Bruckheimer action films and Arnold is therefore called upon to write a good deal of pretty high energy music, with tracks like "Time to get Out;" "The Palio;" the somewhat rocky "Pursuit at Port Au Prince;" "Target Terminated;" and the lengthy "Perla De Las Dunas" generating a good deal of excitement. And of course, there are plenty of more low-key, suspenseful moments along the way.
Local colouring is provided in tracks like "Bond in Haiti;" another actioner "Somebody Wants to Kill You;" "Bolivian Taxi Ride," with its interesting variation on the Bond theme; and there are a few intimate and poignant moments in the likes of "What's Keeping You Awake;" "Forgive Yourself;" and "Camille's Story," with its Spanish guitar colourings.
The weakest element of this album is undoubtedly the song "Another Way To Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys, which Arnold desperately tries to prop up with his arrangement, but its format really precludes him from using it in his score, unlike the "You Know My Name," which wasn't liked either by many critics, but which Arnold co-wrote and was therefore able to incorporate into the score. Note to producers: always let Arnold have a hand in the song, and get someone in to sing it - it's the best way to go - just look at all the fine Bond songs of the Barry years.


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