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2CDs: Patriot Games (1992)
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July 2, 2013

Tracks / Album Length:

CD1: 13 tracks / (46:31)
CD2:  12 tracks / (43:21)



James Horner


Special Notes:

24-page colour booklet with liner notes by Jim Lochner / Limited to 3000 copies.

Comments :    

The lasting attraction to James Horner’s 1992 score – here beefed up in an expanded edition – lies in the subtlety with which he approached the film’s subterfuge and explosive conflicts, rarely launching into a full-blown orchestral assault. Much of the score contains misty and eerie contrasts between low frequencies, tones, rumblings, and thuds peppered with flutes, whistles, Clannad’s solo female voice (“Sean Obsessing in Jail / Deadly Lover / Sean’s Trial”), plus gentle strings that reiterate Gayane’s Ballet Suite (Adagio), as Horner had done quite effectively in Aliens (1986).

Horner’s score eventually swerves to cyclical motifs in place of standard bombast, with South American flutes, resonant drum hits. In “The Hit,” arguably the score’s highlight, Horner establishes a machine-like rhythm using woodwinds, rapping, and synth voices. The effect is an eddying motion for the lengthy sequence of a highway assassination attempt, and rather that accent the drama with shrill brass or pounding percussion, the cue’s all waves of soft sonics and modulated hits coming from somewhat muted booms and industrial metallic hits. The tempo quickly hastens near the end, but both volume and the instrumental densities aren’t overwhelming, and the only shrill element comes from breathy flutes. The film’s final action sequence (“Assault on Ryan’s House”) also benefits from a variation of this mechanical motor design, augmented with a higher degree of metallic strikes – an effective substitution for oft-used deep percussion instruments like kettle drums and timpani.

Horner’s discrete approach is similarly powerful in “Electronic Battlefield” in which a tactical assault is seen from the clinical vantage of computer monitors, and using a more tragic, retarded version of the Gayane theme, Horner captures the chilling nature in which death is administered like a videogame. When the score winds down, he brings back the female voice which flows into a preamble before Clannad’s vocal theme version plays over the End Credits.

La-La Land’s CD spreads the expanded cues and unreleased cues of the 67 min. score over two CDs, with most of CD2 devoted to source cues – Clannad’s “Harry’s Game” song, a march, traditional jigs, and classic pieces - plus the odd alternate (“Hospital Vigil” and “Electronic Battlefield” minus electronic stems). Unlike some expanded scores, there are very few redundancies here, and this full-length presentation is a very satisfying programme of an underrated Horner work.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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