Soundtrack Review ::: "Quantum of Solace"

[Potential Film Spoilers Within Track Listings]

There is part of me that enjoys David Arnold’s newest addition to the Bond series. However, there’s also a part of me that wishes he’d done things a tad differently. Overall, I think this was Arnold’s best attempt at a Bond score.

The first track begins with “Time to Get Out”, which begins very dark. At first, you’d think it was very generic Arnold. However, it later explodes into pulsing strings and brass, to make a charged action piece. I can see where he’s borrowed from other Bond scores for this one, which made me a bit worried about listening to the rest of the track. However, near half-way, the song sounds, for the most part, original. Very thrilling, and action-packed.

His next track is “The Palio”, which makes for a very intense track. I do hear some borrowing and unoriginality for the most part of this song. However, I’ve heard opinions from others that claim this is a rip-off of a John Powell piece- the main chase theme from The Bourne Ultimatum score. I have all of the Bourne scores, and did a little comparison myself. I really can’t hear it. Yeah, I’m sure you could sit there and pick up tiny cues that sound similar… and yeah, they’re both action pieces. Other than that, it’s not a rip-off. If Arnold ripped-off anyone here, then he ripped-off himself. Music from Die Another Day seems to haunt this score.

“Inside Man” was the first great track from the score. It’s just a very stylish and cool theme, and I love the use of the guitar. It’s very effective. No complaints with this, or it’s clone that shows up later in the score. All I can describe it with is the word “cool.”

“Bond in Haiti” is a bit messy, to me. It starts off with some Haitian beats and noises, which worked well. Later on, a guitar comes in, and it just doesn’t seem to mix well with the beats. I just don’t care for it.

“Somebody Wants To Kill You” is an interesting track. I like the string instruments, and the wood-winds. I didn’t care for the brass and that over-powering synth beat that came later in the track. That theme sounds really cheesy and cheap. It sounds like something you’d hear in a xXx action film, other than Bond. I suppose for the rest of this track, I was rather disappointed. The tense strings weren’t done well at 1:16. They sound too fake. Later on, we get a bit of musical continuity… or perhaps unoriginality? You decide. It sounds a lot like the airport music from Casino Royale.

Track six, or “Greene and Camille”, is nothing too special. It begins like a typical Arnold suspense/dark piece. The wind instrument used in this just doesn’t fit. It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t sound good to me. I didn’t care for that. The rest of this track is nothing special. Sounds a bit like the suspenseful/dark themes from Casino Royale, or Die Another Day. When it comes to re-listening to this score, this’ll be a track to skip over.

“Pursuit at Port Au Prince” reeks of Die Another Day. As a matter of fact, the techno/synth action pieces in this track are very much like “Iced, Inc.”, from the Die Another Day score. At first, he starts out with this new guitar that he’s introduced with this score. It sounds all right. I think it works sometimes, and other times it doesn’t. Behind the guitar is a bit of brass. However, then we break out to pure techno crap. The techno loops and synth beats sound incredibly terrible. What a disappointment, too, as this chase scene in the film will probably be great. There is a ray of hope at the end of this track, though. The crap ends, and we hear that stylish guitar theme from the “Inside Man” track. Very Bondian. It’s accompanied by some strings and a faint drum beat. It works great at the end. I suppose you could say this track isn’t 100% crap.

“No Interest in Dominic Greene” opens up with an interesting tune. Dark and subtle, and I enjoy it. The rest of the track includes winds, brass, and of course, some synth effects. It’s not a bad track, yet it’s nothing special.

I can’t really understand how everyone enjoys “Night at the Opera”. I’ll give Arnold points for originality. Other than that, it’s really not anything special, either. Mixed with the film, I’m sure it’ll be great though. The strings are a nice touch, though. I enjoy them in this track.

“Restrict Bond’s Movements” doesn’t offer too much. It seems as this is simply a track to mix with events in the film. Looking at it from that perspective, I think it’ll fit well, given that the scene is fit for the track.

“Talamone” is a favorite of mine from this score. It’s like an Italian version of the film’s main theme, and I think it’ll work well. The track is very short, and seems as if it’s meant for a small travel/transition scene. I think it’ll work great.

“What’s Keeping You Awake” doesn’t offer too much, musically. We do get to hear the return of Vesper’s theme, though. It’s good that Arnold’s keeping up with the musical continuity.

Meant to be another, I believe, transition track, “Boloivian Taxi Ride” offers a very subtle South American version of the Bond theme. All of the beats and strings work well. No major complaints here.

Yet another very short track, “Field Trip” offers a quality version of the Bond theme. It’s quite sylish, and I almost want to say that it’s quite Barry-esque towards the end. No techno/synth effects here. All in all, pretty well done.

I smell, or rather hear, Die Another Day once again in the following track. “Forgive Yourself” opens up with some synth effects that take me back to “Iced, Inc.” Later on, we hear some piano, and more synth noises. The track doesn’t offer much.

“DC3” includes some subtle sounds at the beginning, and later breaks out into a synth beat/brass mixture. Once again, I’m taken back to the sounds of Die Another Day. The guitar in the background makes for a good musical effect, though.

“Target Terminated” takes me to the final pieces of music used in Die Another Day. Are we noticing a pattern here? I sure am. Thanks to the wonderful iTunes program, I’m able to hop away from this track, to the Die Another Day score in another playlist, to parallel the tracks. Very similar, in my opinion. Overall, in this track, there’s too much techno for my taste. I don’t care for it too much.

In a way, “Camille’s Story” takes me back to Michael Kamen’s Licence To Kill, for some reason. I really enjoy the strings used here, and the guitar… or is that a mandolin? It’s most likely David Arnold’s keyboard. However, it makes for a nice theme, and “Vesper’s Theme” is hinted at the very end of the song, with a short piano bit.

“Oil Fields” includes a nice Bond theme, recycled from “The Vanish”. Of course, that track is from Arnold’s expanded score for… you guessed it: Die Another Day. It’s actually good to hear this theme being re-used though, and low on the techno sounds. It works well in this track.

“Have You Ever Killed Someone” brings back the opening theme from “Jinx Jordan”, and a major theme from Die Another Day. Of course, it’s re-worked a tad, but any avid Bond score listener with the right ear can figure this out. After this, it breaks into some drums, which work well, I think. We start hearing this major guitar that keeps showing up in the score. That works well, too. Brass is introduced, also.

“Perla De Las Dunas” has its ups and downs. It’s the longest track from the score, and contains quite a bit of music. It opens up with some subtle themes, which are done well. We hear the guitar come into play, along with some brass. This also works well. At 2:40, my favorite piece of the song plays out. This brass theme really reminds me of a John Barry piece… I see it as a modern day version of the chase music used in “Battle at Piz Gloria”, from the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service soundtrack. I REALLY enjoy this theme, and it’s a shame that it only has a short running time in this track. After this, we get some typical Arnold music. Synth effects, which sounds too much like the music used at the end of Die Another Day.

“The Dead Don’t Care About Vengeance” starts to conclude this soundtrack. Again, we hear the very stylish guitar theme that began in the “Inside Man” track, along with some Bondian beats that can be heard in the back ground. It’s a very stylish theme that helps to end this score.

Finally, “I Never Left” leaves us with a very sympathetic and affectionate track. “Vesper’s Theme” returns for a moment and the soundtrack ends. Well, actually, it leaves us with that Keys/White mess of a Bond theme, which I won’t bother going into.

Final thoughts:
This soundtrack shows us that Arnold is attempting something new… for the time being, at least. The introduction of a very bold guitar was something I enjoyed about this score. Actually, it made some of the tracks seem plain-old cool. However, as I clearly pointed out, Arnold needs to work on his originality. Much of this score seemed to borrow from Die Another Day. In a way, this is alright, considering that he’s giving some decent themes another chance. On the other hand, it shows that he’d rather return to another score, scrape some themes from it, and then re-work it into the new score. If I listen to my favorite Bond score, You Only Live Twice, I don’t hear John Barry doing this. In other words, I think there are a lot of improvements to be made in David Arnold’s music.

Do I want Arnold back? Well, I think the Bond producers have pretty much decided that he’ll be the Bond music man for a while now. However, I’m actually interested in hearing his next Bond score. He took a new direction, and a step ahead with this score, in a way, despite some unoriginality… so, perhaps with the next score, he’ll improve, and take another new and refreshing approach to the James Bond score. I was glad to hear Arnold use more than one theme, though he may have been forced. We were given Vesper’s Theme, along with the Quantum theme, and of course Bond’s theme.

Is the score brilliant? By no means.

Is it better than his previous works? Perhaps.

I enjoyed it a lot more than Casino Royale and The World Is Not Enough. Though he borrowed much from Die Another Day, it was good to hear it being worked in a better manner. So, you could say I like it more than that score, too.

In summary, I’m going out on a limb here and saying this is Arnold’s best Bond score. No, we don’t hear much of the Bond theme, and yes, he still uses his synth crap. However, I hold it higher than Tomorrow Never Dies because it isn’t as pumped with synth, and contains more stylish themes and melodies.

This is Arnold’s beginning of redemption, for me. I hope he really makes some great music for the next film, while staying away from synth and keeping things original.

We shall see… or hear, rather.

Quantum of Solace: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Composed by David Arnold

Released by J-Records

October 28, 2008

Now available on Amazon.com

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