So, Mr Bond, we meet again

5th October 2012

There’s a marvellous moment at the end of the first chorus of Adele’s Skyfall. It’s an echo, little more than a hint, of Vic Flick’s most famous guitar riff, set amid the brass section playing its signature chromatic figure.

It’s a reference there to get the pulse racing rather than for identity’s sake, because by then, just before the two-minute mark, you know it’s a Bond theme, and a classic at that. In fact you know it’s a Bond theme well before the two-second mark. You know it the moment you hear that opening chord, dark horns overlaying rich strings.

 Setting a mood so precisely requires a great deal of skill. There’s the skill of Adele and Paul Epworth in writing the song itself, and the skill of Adele performing it. There’s the skill of the orchestrator and arranger in weaving in those echoes and getting the voicing and the register spot on for the rasping trombones and the trumpet discords – and the skill of the players, sight reading it to perfection.

But there’s more. There’s the actual ‘007 sound’, a sound we’ve known for half a century. It’s instantly recognizable – and we’d know in a split second if it didn’t quite measure up. That’s why the horn intro strikes such a chord. That’s why it’s not just Adele singing a song, but Adele signing a James Bond song. And that is down to Abbey Road – its studios, its engineers and, of course, its Neve 88RS mixing consoles.

Console technology – rather like James Bond’s gadgets – has come a long way in the 50 years since Dr No launched the 007 franchise. Back in 1962 there was no automation, no stem mixing and no surround sound, yet today it’s unthinkable that you’d record a Bond theme without them. And, of course, with Encore automation and the SP2 scoring panel, the Neve 88RS has the ultimate implementation of those features.
But getting the 007 sound requires something extra, something deeper in a console’s DNA. Yes, Neve technology has come a long way, but its core values – pristine sound quality and uncompromised frequency response – haven’t changed. And those are precisely the characteristics that have made the Neve 88RS the automatic choice for every Bond score since its launch more than ten years ago.
Listen again to Skyfall. It’s not just pure Bond. It’s also pure AMS Neve.