Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2022 January 10 • Monday

Robert Folk's score for Toy Soldiers is our 708th Soundtrack of the Week.

It begins with strong atmospheres of drama and mystery with martial elements added by snare drum in "Prelude/Escape from Barranquilla".

The second track, "Regis Cue", is a soaring and uplifting John Williams-like piece with an American feel that might also recall some of Alan Silvestri's work.

A military feel returns with the prominent use of snare drum in "Sneaking to the Cellar", followed by the powerfully sinister and brass-heavy "Border Killing".

Then things get a little slower, quieter, more pensive, for the long string tones and subtle timpani of "The Mouth Wash Incident".

"Billy's Caper" also has a Williams-esque feel to it, with moments that might remind you of cues from Superman or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

These ideas are continued in the beginning of "The Capture of Regis" before the score goes full horror with some shrieking and swirling strings before settling into an urgently driving tension zone.

The cue for "Interrogation" is slow and brooding with some lovely thick textures. It leads organically into "Surrounding the School" which has some Herrmannesque use of harp and ostinati.

Harp plays a more prominent and beautiful role in "Cali's Demand", not front and center but strategically placed to complemenet what the orchestra is doing—which at times is another Herrmannesque feel from the string section.

Things must be happening in "Uneasy Quiet" as the energy picks up in the middle before settling into a more restrained mood, with a very Marnie-like motif.

Another Herrmann similarity can be heard in the beginning and background of "Beginning of the Plan", this time another ostinato that might recall his "Outer Space Suite". Then it moves to a brighter, more "American" sound, more in the Williams or Silvestri zone.

"Billy's Escape" keeps the previous cue's rhythmic feel but adds some lovely writing for strings. At the risk of overdoing comparisons to the work of other composer's, this piece reminded me of some of James Horner's Star Trek II: The Wrath Khan music.

The energy of the previous cue continues with the beginning of "Billy's Mad Dash/Billy Meets the Army", which ends up being a gradual development of suspense before relaxing calming strings and harp and eventually resolving with the swelling of the full orchestra.

And then the orchestra starts strong with "Running Back to School", a rousing and energetic piece that suggests gearing up for battle.

The intensity is sustained by the propulsive "In the Nick of Time" and then diffused with some unusual and arresting harmonies in "The Boys Reflect (Joey's Death)", which demonstrates a possible John Barry influence.

After that it's time for a slow, sad feel with the touching and elegiac "Father's Pain", which has a gorgeously sorrowful melody.

"The Wrath of Joey's Father" is quietly restrained, with the snare drum sporadically suggesting battle and string figures indicating that, perhaps, preparations for conflict or vengeance are being made.

Another surprisingly restrained and atmopsheric cue, "Billy Snaps Out of It", gets a lot out of some stripped down writing for strings combined with very subtle rhythmic statements from piano and other instruments.

The string and wind instruments play off each other in "Billy Changes the Chip", alternating long tones and short, contrasting rhythms and feels.

Everything then really explodes in "Narrow Escape/Closing In/Jack Gets It", combining themes of horror, action and more moody atmospheres, no doubt quite appropriate for what must be the climax of the movie.

"The End of Cali" is a triumphant and militaristic action cue with echoes of Williams, Goldsmith and Horner.

And then there's the "End Credits", with a return to soothing, brass-led Americana melodic structures. There's also a shorter alternate version of same.