New free Amon Tobin song up in the Ninja Tune record label’s downloads section, and it’s pretty killer (webpage, MP3). Titled “The Lighthouse,” it’s the lead track from his forthcoming Chaos Theory: Soundtrack to Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Yes, it’s a video game soundtrack, and Tobin doesn’t disappoint. He seems high on the idea of doing a score. He keeps the rhythm memorable and potent, and focuses on that classic background-music element, a bevy of strings — and then the drums kick in. Perhaps he’s auditioning for Hollywood. “The Lighthouse” does play like an outward-bound version of the retro-cool stuff that David Holmes has been spinning for directors Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Out of Sight) and Bronwen Hughes (Stander).
Over in the Ninja Tune forum (ninjatune.net/forum), they’ve been dissecting and critiquing the MP3. One participant thinks of Italian horror (“This is like Goblin scoring for a Bond film”) but another is just short of thrilled: “this track is anticlimatic…im on the edge of my whatever…waiting to freak out on some crazy aggressive release…and it just doesn’t happen.” The Goblin/Bond comment is right on target. The opening violins skitter around like harpies all a twitter, before lunging deep, while the bass and drums sound like a happening lounge. The album reportedly arrives in America before it does in the U.K., January 25 versus 31, even though Ninja is based in London. The video game comes out in March on several platforms simultaneously: Xbox, PS2, GameCube and PC. More info at the splintercell.com portal.
PS (as of February 1): In conjunction with Ninja Tune, there is now a streaming video online for the song “El Cargo,” five minutes of edge-of-your-seat techno-exotica, off the Splinter Cell soundtrack, in Windows Media and Real Media. It’s constructed from scenes from the game. You know, spy stuff: agents skulking down hallways, high-tech situation rooms lined with monitors, and the trifocal night vision goggles that lend the Chaos Theory album cover its central image.