When PATRIOT GAMES was released composer James Horner was in effect already an A list composer and had scored a number of big box office blockbusters. 1992 was also one of Horner’s most fruitful years he also scored SNEAKERS,THUNDERHEART and provided a dark and tense soundtrack for UNLAWFUL ENTRY. PATRIOT GAMES, can I suppose be referred to as a typical Horner score from this period, as many collectors were beginning to loose a little of the attraction that they had felt for the composers work, simply because it seemed to be no longer as original and fresh as it had been previously, in the days when he worked on KRULL, WILLOW, WOLFEN and WRATH OF KHAN etc, but as we all know in film music it is not just about creating a great theme or a hit song or an outstanding cue, it is all about supporting the scenarios that are being unfolded up on the screen. In PATRIOT GAMES I think Horner accomplished this and some. There are of course many of the stock musical trademarks that we readily associate with the composer present, and at times it is possible to catch snatches of his past works for the cinema ie; ALIENS and GORKY PARK, RED HEAT etc, but it does not mean that this is not a good score, it services the film well and along the way the composer does come up with a handful of haunting and infectious pieces that play on the listeners mind. This is quite a sparse or sparingly used score Horner utilizes various Irish or Gaelic sounding instrumentation throughout the score which include penny whistle, fiddle and also a particularly haunting female vocal courtesy of Maggie Boyle, who’s distinct voice adds the required atmosphere and mood to the proceedings, Track 1,MAIN TITLE, sets the scene perfectly, Gaelic vocals are ushered in via the use of Irish drum or Bodhran that is underlined by synth, as the vocal progresses the strategically placed drum beats are joined augmented and supported by a second vocalist and the composer also introduces pan pipes, harmonica and subtle use of harp to create an attractive but at the same time anxious ambiance, penny whistle is also introduced and takes on the main role within the composition performing a bittersweet theme that is punctuated and also underlined with brooding strings and synths that although are low key still create a dark and apprehensive mood. Horner successfully combines the synthetic and electronic elements of the orchestra with the more conventional instrumentation and is able to fuse them together to produce taut and at times harrowing moments within the work. He also utilizes synthetic elements without symphonic support and this type of scoring is prominent within track number 6, STRANGE CARGO, where there is no real musical content or melody just a threatening and somewhat edgy sound that drones without changing direction or pace.
Track number 8, THE HIT, is for me one of the score outstanding tracks, it is a musical lesson on how to build tension, but keep it interesting and also vaguely melodic, oscillating pan pipes lay down a tense backing that is punctuated by lone beats from percussion and dark synthesizer chords, with penny whistle interspersed with anvil strikes keeping the Irish connection alive, this is a highly effective cue within the movie and Horner builds the anxiety wonderfully by adding more musical components and sounds to the proceedings, giving it more weight and a fraught sense of impending doom. This is a great release from LA LA LAND RECORDS, the double compact disc contains, nearly 90 mins of music, which include 19 previously unreleased cues, a handful of source cues, and also CLANNAD,S classic performance of HARRYS GAME. So all in all it’s a release worth checking out. Limited to 3000 copies the release is presented and packaged to the now normal high standards of LA LA LAND, and contains numerous stills from the movie and interesting liner notes. Recommended.