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
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"