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Comments about the soundtrack for Snake Eyes (Ryuichi Sakamoto)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Brett J. Ulrich   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 8:17 a.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Brett J. Ulrich was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in May, 2009)

Snake Eyes: (Ryuichi Sakamoto) One day I was in the local used CD store, searching through the soundtrack section when I happened upon this title. Having seen the movie months earlier, I didn't recall much about the score. However, since the CD was only $5, I bought it along with a handful of other titles. Having never heard anything by Sakamoto before, I popped this one into the CD player for the ride home. The first thing I can tell you about this CD is that it is not driving music by any standard; some of the tracks are downright depressing. But, one must take into account the dark side of human nature that the movie itself depicts before passing judgement on this score.

The first track begins with a solemn string rendition of Sakamoto's low key "Snake Eyes" theme. A full string ensemble carries the melody until a quiet cymbal crash brings in a brooding horn accompaniment. The action music throughout the CD is fairly uninteresting. The "boom-chuck" action motif in "Assination" is absolutely annoying. Where Sakamoto's strengths lie is his ability to create an aura of tension using entirely strings, much like Herrman's Psycho (no, I am not comparing this score to Psycho by any means). This is demonstrated in "The Hunt" until some repetitive chase music picks up shortly before the 2:30 mark. "Julia's Story #1" serves its purpose as an underscore to one of the movie's flashback sequences. It will slip by fairly quickly with no interesting new additions to the score's thematic development. Sakamoto uses a saxophone solo in a rather unorthodox style in "Tyler and Serena," laying stark contrast to the score's predominately string nature. Atmospheric percussion noises with some trembling orchestral sounds serve as a transition into another string melody. The rotating of melody among the higher and lower range orchestral instruments makes this track fairly interesting.

"Kevin Cleans Up" sneaks right up on you at the conclusion of "Tyler and Serena." If you weren't keeping an eye on the track number, you will never know, except that the track is purely atmospheric sting trembling that is wholly uninteresting alone on the CD. The track concludes with some obnoxious percussion, and a random blast from the lower brass section. "You Know Him" is one of the more intriguing tracks on the CD. The "Snake Eyes" theme is carried throughout the track with some haunting whistling noises, helping to convey the depressive nature of a discovery made by Nicholas Cage's character. "Blood on the Medals" is a haunting cue that will slip by with little other impact, transitioning into the horn performance of the "Snake Eyes" theme that dominates the first 1:30 next track, "Crawling to Julia." After that point Sakomoto moves to a suspenseful string motif, followed by a few blasting brass notes, then to the return of the "Snake Eyes" theme, followed by more haunting strings. The next track demonstrates how truly obnoxious overblown lower brass instruments can sound. "The Storm" opens with a few loud brass chords. With some entrances of the "Snake Eyes" theme with different orchestrations, and the recurring overbearing brass, the only word to describe this track is interesting.

The last track of the score, "Snake Eyes (Long Version)," made the purchase of this CD worth it (Well, at least for used CD price). Sakamoto opens with a quiet string motif that almost has a heroic feel to it in the beginning. However, the track soon leads into a solo horn performance of the "Snake Eyes" theme. The resonating echo of the solo is moving, to say the least. Enter strings, picking up the melody from the horn. This track highlights the theme, which is by far the best part of the score. The track also show cases other themes from the movie, one of his better suspense themes in particular, making it the perfect candidate for compilation dubbing. The track builds to a strong and quick finale, slipping away as quietly as the album began. Well, that is until the songs begin, which is to say the least annoying. They in no way fit in with Sakamoto's brooding score. At least one plus, they didn't mix them in with the score. On the whole, if you can get it fairly cheaply, I would recommend picking this CD up, just for the first and last score tracks. Hopefully, Sakamoto will get another shot at a film of this caliber, and he'll use his talents with an orchestra in a more cohesive manner. **

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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.