Casino Royale's finest quality is resourcefulness, every track containing originality and style. Composer David Arnold melds soft electronics, minimal piano, and elegant string works in a way that provides us with an irresistible floating sensation. This is how he manages to equal John Barry's charm using a different though extremely clever approach. Those appreciative of the good old-fashioned Bond soundtracks should feel at home with Casino Royale. Although there is some electronic sound design and a touch of Techno, this is very much a back-to-basics acoustic Bond score, as befits the film's position as a "modern prequel" to the other familar James Bond movies which established the franchise during the John Barry days. The film is an excellent re-invention of the genre - let's hope that future movies coupled with Arnold's music can retain that raw, earthy feel where there is real danger and real feelings at stake.
"African Rundown" sounds very much like a George Martin style arrangement (Live and Let Die, 1973), with an extra energy that comes alive through the use of rapid bursts of violin. "Nothin' Sinister" sounds very much like a creepy piece straight out of Ennio Morricone's The Thing (1982). Needless to say, these two initial tracks expose the wide variety of styles used in Casino Royale. Tracks such as "Unauthorised Access", "Blunt Instrument", and "The Tell" demonstrate Arnold's use of atmospherics at their best, with minimal instrumentation alongside subtle beats and liquid-like drones. The main traditional Bond theme is only hinted at subtly in a few tracks until it is brought out in full towards the end in "The name's Bond...James Bond".
Casino Royale contains some very romantic pieces too: take for instance tracks "Solange" which instantly brings Basic Instinct to mind (composed by Jerry Goldsmith in 1992), or the brilliant "City of Lovers" with its mystery and soothing strings. These erotic moments surface throughout the entire soundtrack, providing Casino Royale with a welcome feeling of warmth and sensuality. Interestingly, the techno beats used in the score are minimal, compared with the over-used techno present in Die Another Day (2002), and seem to have more in common with ingenious electronica composers such as Fernando Corona (a.k.a Murcof). Action-wise “The End of an Aston Martin” packs quite a punch with its roaring wind section. “The Switch” follows a similar pattern. These tracks fare very well alongside the film’s action sequences, and surpass the clichéd cues present in many modern action movies.
Casino Royale contains some of the most interesting ambient music in recent years (cinema-wise), and has a unique sound texture that places alongside the best Bond scores, in second position after the John Barry soundtracks. Casino Royale comes highly recommended. The soundtrack album is available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.