Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Emil CMIRAL Ronin OST Varese Sarabande VSD-5977 [66:02]  


Crotchet (UK)

While you attempt to pronounce it, the name behind this remarkable score is nonetheless going to stick. Cmiral is of Czech-Swedish origin, and previously impressed with Apartment Zero. In replacing Jerry Goldsmith on this latest thriller from John Frankenheimer, his independent's days are over.

The name 'Ronin' alludes to a breed of fallen Samurai warriors, and the film attempts to imbue some of that disgraced nobility in a rag-tag collection of international mercenaries. So with a tragedian quality to the characters, some of this score follows a predictable mood. It is how that is achieved that warrants attention.

"Ronin Theme" opens the album with the wash and rumble of an electronic soundscape, but progresses to layer in parts from a session orchestra. Over five very full minutes, the thematic basis for most of the score is introduced. The theme itself appears in its most regular and effective guise on an Armenian duduk (a gloriously soulful reed instrument). The successive merge into emotive strings works beautifully, however the album's closing orchestral rendition ("Good Knowing You") does not convey as much emotion after the repeated solos.

What then follows defies description without cross-comparison of sounds you might be more familiar with. If you took the abrasive rawness of Elliot Goldenthal and combined it with the modernistic approach of Graeme Revell, then mixed in some of Danny Elfman's quirkiness (particularly with percussion) you would come somewhere close to covering the breadth of style contained in this hour of surprises.

There are many instances of punctuating crescendo on brass, cymbal and enhanced synth effects. The combination is quite shocking. There are quite furious passages of percussive rhythm which actually suggest the heyday of Lalo Schifrin. In "This Is The Day" and "You Are A Dead Man" this kicks up a terrific pace and weaves numerous percussion instruments into its hits around sharp brass stabs.

That gives an impression of the Cmiral take on the thriller score. Then there are the entirely left-field cues that defy logical inclusion in their surroundings - and yet sit quite comfortably. "Carousel For Little Tamao" is a waltzing fairground's accompaniment. The 'oompah' of riding up, down, and around on a Merry Go-Round. "Passion" smacks of the grand Hollywood heyday tradition of swirling strings as the camera pans away from two first time lovers and looks onto crashing waves or a roaring hearth. "The Girl Sold Us Out" uses the duduk again at its tenderest, and probably strikes as a particularly effective change of pace after some relentless pyrotechnics in "Gunfight At The Amphitheatre"


Paul Tonks.


Paul Tonks.

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