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007 Bloodstone by Richard Jacques

007 Bloodstone

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007 Bloodstone (Soundtrack) by Richard Jacques

007 Bloodstone
Composed by Richard Jacques
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 9/10

 

 

“...undoubtedly RICHARD JACQUES has created a modern classic Bond score — no mean feat.”

A Man of Action (Scoring)
Review by Marius Masalar

RICHARD JACQUES is a man of action. You know him best from his work on award-winning games like Headhunter and Mass Effect, and if you were a fan of those titles, then his latest work on JAMES BOND 007: BLOOD STONE may just be the score you’ve been waiting for from him since it combines the best of both worlds and then some. As he describes it, it was the kind of project every composer wants to get, but in many ways it seems clear that he was the most appropriate man for the job given his style, experience, and connections to the developers, Bizarre Creations. The question, then, is whether or not he made the best of it.

If the opening of the generous score is any indication, then the answer is a resounding yes. “M Puts Her Trust in Bond” (1) is a suave and beguiling introduction to the score, beginning dark and moody before unleashing the memorable main theme just after the two-minute mark. Screaming trumpets and lush jazz harmonies are the hallmark of the Bond series, and even though RICHARD JACQUES crafts entirely new themes for the game, the spirit of the originals is clearly evident. With hardly a pause for breath, “Athens Harbour Chase” (2) further develops the theme in a frenetic action cue that recalls the best of the Headhunter material with an added dose of scale and style. This is what the latest films’ music should have been like. Rounding off the opening is “Fireworks at the Acropolis” (3), a tense continuation of the action material that further cements us into the Bond mindset.

Combat eases off toward the end of the cue just in time for “Turkish Delight” (4). The softer secondary theme wafts across in a sultry and downbeat arrangement that includes some subtle but significant synth work, establishing the contemporary edge of this Bond. “By Any Means Necessary” (5) is JACQUES’ opportunity to demonstrate to us yet again that he is tireless when it comes to producing compelling action material. You’ll notice that each of the action sequences are quite long and don’t resort to dull looping to pad the length; each cue is expertly crafted and sophisticated in its development, despite the constant pacing. This is the essence of cinematic gameplay cues — consistent but not repetitive. Dropping off into darker places, “The Torture of Malcolm Tedworth” (6) is an uncomfortable sequence with appropriately tense and brooding musical accompaniment.

In the first noticeably ethnic-flavoured cue, “Bazar Chase” (7), JACQUES augments his orchestral complement with a battery of middle-eastern percussion for an authentic groove. Despite its effectiveness, it falls a bit short of delivering the intensity of “The Package” (8), wherein the orchestra takes up the main theme again in sharp, punctuated form while allowing the percussion to keep us grounded in the foreign feel. Not slowing down, “Istanbul Arena Showdown” (9) hits the ground running but doesn’t last very long: it is the shortest track on the score and hardly carries much weight on its own as a result. “Casino Crack” (10) finally offers some respite from the brisk pace with another atmospheric respite. The synths are back for some atmospheric underpinnings while the brass and strings conspire above. In case you were getting sleepy, “No More Bets” (11) resumes the action with a long and satisfying fight cue of ferocious potency. Nevertheless it fails to distinguish itself among the stronger action sequences on the album.

“Pomerov’s Lair (12) is an important but restrained moment of stealth; establishing tension without raising the stakes too high — you’re James Bond, after all. Of course, sometimes even 007 has to turn tail and flee, and “Escaping the Refinery” (13) helps him do it in style. Its brevity is favourable in this instance because it leads into “Siberian Pursuit” (14), which is among the score’s strongest action cues. Beginning in a fairly generic manner, it soon launches into strong thematic statements and pulsing brass stabs. Changing gears, “Contact in Bangkok” (15) is the score’s longest and most dynamic track. Beginning with a far-east ambience, it slowly builds and grows into a dark and propulsive action cue with some fantastic rhythmic and melodic figures swirling through the latter half. Not to be outdone, “Truck Chase / Track Down” (16) carries right on with another long and frenetic section of thrills before dying down into a gentler gameplay ambience.

Worth mentioning is the ease with which JACQUES explores this style. “Rogue Agent” (17) is just more proof that the BLOOD STONE score is far from mindless pastiche; the composer is in his element and having fun, and the result is an inescapable sense of authenticity. “Welcome to Burma Mr. Bond” (18) is another example of percussion setting the ethnic feel as Bond travels to yet another destination. The taikos and stick clicks play a role in the corresponding action track, “Evading the Mercenaries Camp” (19), as well to great effect. The impression continues unabated into “Unexpected Landing” (20) where some extremely dramatic rhythmic shifts in the second half provide tremendous excitement.

“Firefight At The Dam” (21) maintains the extra edge as the score approaches its closing minutes. An abrupt ending only briefly detains the extraordinary tour de force that is “Bond Confronts Rak” (22). JACQUES really unleashes everything in this final overwhelmingly intense action sequence. If you don’t feel like you’ve just saved the world when the track comes to a crashing conclusion then something is amiss. Of course, no Bond story would be complete without the ‘gotcha’ moment. “Twisting the Knife” (23) delivers it, and after a few false stops finally succumbs to “The Demise of Nicole Hunter” (24), the score’s satisfying (if melodramatic and dark) conclusion. And, clearly, no Bond score would be complete without Monty Norman’s iconic “The James Bond Theme” (25) to round it off.

So what, then, is the verdict? Well undoubtedly RICHARD JACQUES has created a modern classic Bond score — no mean feat — but what else? Well for starters, fans of his past work will appreciate that the music not only works in-game but also, as with much of his work, provides a wholly satisfying standalone listening experience. Unfortunately, the crisp and impressive performances of the musicians and pristine mixing of the ensemble is a double-edged sword: after more than an hour of having a world-class brass section screaming at you, you may actually need a martini to take the edge off. Some of the action tracks are just so intense that the brief interludes between them simply aren’t enough to balance the mood; it would have been nice to hear more of how the composer handled the quieter sections and how the score’s main themes could be developed less energetically. But what it lacks in subtlety, RICHARD JACQUES’ work on BLOOD STONE more than makes up for in authenticity, style, and sheer fun. And whether because of his history as a trombone player, his penchant for action material, or both of those things and more, it’s abundantly clear that everything has come together for him in this score. He’s having fun, and the feeling is infectious.
 

Rating: 9/10

 

 


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 M Puts Her Trust in Bond 5:12  ****
2 Athens Harbour Chase 2:55  ****
3 Fireworks at teh Acropolis 3:52  **
4 Turkish Delight 4:34  ****
5 By Any Means Necessary 2:14  ***
6 The Torture of Malcom Tedworth 2:24  ****
7 Bazar Chase 2:14  **
8 The Package 3:06  ***
9 Istanbul Arena Showdown 1:23  ***
10 Casino Safe Crack 2:49  ****
11 No More Bets 3:21  ****
12 Pomerov's Lair 2:45  **
13 Escaping the Refinery 1:55  ***
14 Siberian Pursuit 3:14  ****
15 Contact in Bangkok 5:40  *****
16 Truck Chase/ Track Down 5:27  ****
17 Rogue Agent 2:21  **
18 Welcome to Burma Mr. Bond 2:35  **
19 Evading the Mercenaries Camp 2:16  ***
20 Unexpected Landing 1:25  ***
21 Firefight at the Dam 2:50  **
22 Bond Confronts Rak 2:44  ***
23 Twisting the Knife 1:30  **
24 The Demise of Nicole Hunter 4:17  *****
25 The James Bond Theme (By Monty Norman) 2:20  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  

 

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