December 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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RECOMMENDED December 2002

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David ARNOLD
Die Another Day  
  WEA 9362483892   [54:56]

die another day

1. "Madonna – Die Another Day" 4:37

Nope – the excellent strings buried underneath (this travesty that belongs nowhere near the Bond song legacy) have nothing to do with David Arnold. They were arranged and supplied by Michel Colombier, the French composer who previously brought you Purple Rain and Barb Wire! So nothing you hear in this over-long four and a half minutes will be proper introduction to the meat of the disc in any way…

2. "James Bond Theme (Bond Vs. Oakenfold)" 4:02

…talking of which, here's another unpleasant delay to the worthwhile listening experience. Wasn't Madonna going to sell enough copies that they needed another remix? Does the 5 years since Moby's "Re-Version" mean someone's come along to do a better job then? I'll give you 3 guesses…

3. "On The Beach" 2:50

There's some cautious introduction going on here. Arnold wouldn't want to alienate Bond fans by not giving them the familiar to begin with. The good old Gun Barrel and Guitar slips in a little sampled percussion elements. Then, behind this dramatic opening full of semi-quotes of the Bond Themes sits some subtle layers of electronic effect. Like I say, this is a fine-tuned intro to what this score is about to do. Are you ready?

4. "Hovercraft Chase" 3:48

Initially spanking around with percussion in the way the "Bike Shop Fight" kicked off in Tomorrow Never Dies, this is where the line furthered in The World Is Not Enough is well and truly crossed. Not only do Arnold's unique samples feature more prominently than they did in The World Is Not Enough's "Come In 007 Your Time Is Up", there's a whole new world of cut and paste brought to life. When you read my interview, the process and fantastical thinking behind the orchestral sampling method employed here will be fully explained. Let's put it this way, those who have been against Arnold's musical makeover courtesy of The Propellerheads in Tomorrow Never Dies (you know who you are!) are really going to find their eyes and ears out on stalks. The argument is it's too 'showy' for Bond. Well, I loved the use of Arnold's developing style in The World Is Not Enough enough to award it an Ivor Novello Award, for which I am a Judge here in the UK. I've not seen Die Another Day as of writing, so I can't comment on this music's use in the film. But if it's favoured as well as it deserves to be in the final sound mix, this is going to be some of the 'showiest' accompaniment Bond's ever known.

5. "Some Kind Of Hero?" 4:31

Straight into a quick snare drum march – something Arnold does effortlessly well – we're then briefly returned to what may well be an electronic bouzouki, which we just heard "On The Beach". Midway the snares return, recalling Moonraker (and his own Godzilla). This cue is a slight breather after what came before, although a dark tone persists beneath.

6. "Welcome To Cuba" 2:06

Hilarious! Bond experiences a Latin Music explosion, killing all unprepared listeners in the process. This is simply joyous stuff that breaks up all the drama perfectly. See how many seconds you can go without wanting to trill your tongue and 'whoop' in accompaniment! Piano, brass, shakers and groovers all swirl around one another and yet it still remains identifiably Bond.

7. "Jinx Jordan" 1:28

The bikini babe (Halle Berry) gets that which Arnold seems to love crafting most – a romance motif. It's gentle. It's even a little poignant. But is it also a bit ambiguous? Hmmm.

8. "Jinx And James" 2:03

Perfectly placed, this is an extension of the previous cue's material and mood.

9. "A Touch Of Frost" 1:50

UK readers may be expecting David Jason to cameo in this sequence, but unless he's seriously updated his sleuthing technique, it could only be Bond at work for this spy cool meets piano romance.

10. "Icarus" 1:21

Here's the much talked about use of chorus. For all that Arnold may have consciously steered away from the John Barry Bond style, it may have unconsciously taken him towards his style for The Lion In Winter and The Last Valley. The choral intonations fondly recall those other Barry greats. Albeit in a cue that feels unfairly short. Don't worry though, the choir will return!

11. "Laser Fight" 4:35

It's a slow burn to the fight itself, with plenty of opportunity for the kooky sample creations to take centre spotlight on the way. Just when you think Jinx's motif couldn't sound any more urgent, all merry madness ensues.

12. "Whiteout" 4:54

Reining the madness in, here's the opening portions to several Bond motifs mixed underneath some bridging scratch and fizz sampling. I promised the Chorus returns, and here they do so in glorious style. This is a very solid action cue building to lots of those screaming horns Arnold's got down to a fine art.

13. "Iced Inc." 3:07

After "Hovercraft Chase" this may be the one by which the poop really hits the fans. The cars are spinning out of control, so why shouldn't the music? My advice is to find yourself a nice empty parking lot and practice handbrake skids whilst playing this at full volume. In one of several pleasing allusions to what's come before, this cue even manages to crowbar in a reference to one of Arnold's own Bond motifs. It figured prominently in The World Is Not Enough's "Come In 007 Your Time Is Up", and is tucked in here right before a dislocated vocal whine punctuates the action. Go on - go and rev up the car!

14. "Antonov" 11:50

Twelve minutes in any movie is naturally going to be comprised of multiple scenes, and likewise this generous cue ranges wildly. It was written and recorded in segments, the first of which I heard at the September London sessions. Here's a rundown of standout component elements: Exotic pipe. Huge romantic swell. Shakahuchi. Chorus. The descending piano motif from The World Is Not Enough's "PipeLine". Triangle. "Ooh" from female vocalist (since I'm working from a Checkdisc, I don't know if this is David's long-time collaborator Natacha Atlas). Chugging / spanking electronic effects. Muted horns oozing Bond sexiness everywhere. It's a monster of a cue!

15. "Going Down Together" 1:32

Even if none of the Bond gals this time have names that perpetuate double entendre in our society, then at least there's a place for it in the track titles! If you think in the opening seconds we're going into You Only Live Twice that's fine. (If you think we're going into Robbie Williams' "Millennium" you can leave the building right now.) You Only Live Twice is Arnold's reason for being where he is today. We'll cover that in the interview. This closing track should rest everyone easy. The action's over, but both Bond and Arnold still know how to keep the franchise flame alive. Cheeky!

CD-ROM CONTENT:

Warning – you have to register on-line to access this material. And yes, they want to send you e-mail spam. Sigh.

  • Madonna Video
    - Also has a separate Making of the Music Video video!
  • Bond Movie Poster Gallery
    – all 20 movies represented.
  • Women of Bond Gallery
    – 32 luscious photos to scroll through.
  • Bond Bonus Extras
    – Bond DVD Anniversary Promotional Video
    - The James Bond Theme - Bond Vs. Oakenfold "Die Another Day" Music Video
    - The James Bond Theme - Bond Vs. Oakenfold Music Video of Classic Bond Film Clips

Note: None of these Bonus Extras worked from my Checkdisc.

  • Weblinks
    - 4 obvious links.

After enthusing as I plainly have, why only 4 stars? Because of the songs and the CD-ROM Extras. Without them and with the extra time that might have afforded for additional score tracks, this would be a 5 star review. The whole reason for writing this Column is to champion film music that strives to excel. David Arnold just took James Bond music up a whole level.

Paul Tonks

****

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