continues to impress with his way of searching and exploring new ways and techniques to score films. Zimmer is a much more mature composer today than he was ten years ago. Had he scored Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down
back then we would probably have gotten yet another of his "power theme" scores, such as Backdraft and Crimson Tide
, i.e. the kind of score that we usually associate with Zimmer and Media Ventures. The first time Zimmer really impressed me was with the score for The Thin Red Line
- his finest score so far, in my opinion. It showed a more serious side of the composer than we had seen before. Sure, he had written serious scores prior to The Thin Red Line
, but now Zimmer surprised us with a type of score we didn't expect to get. Composers who approach every new scoring job with a fresh mind, not relying on sounds and techniques that worked for similar films in the past always get high marks in my book. A war film does not have to sound like a typical war film when it comes to the score. And the score for Black Hawk Down
does not. The patriotic themes are totally absent, as are the sappy and too emotional string and brass elegies. The music is still emotional however, but not overly manipulative.
Instead, Hans Zimmer
's score for Black Hawk Down
is dark, harsh and disturbing. It's dominated by low bass notes, synths, percussion and African vocals - although far from the kind of choral writing heard in the composers' scores for The Lion King
and The Power of One
. Many cues, such as "Bakara" and "Of the Earth" are almost entirely performed by vocals, performed by Baaba Maal, and electronics and the result is a score that above all is unpolished and raw. But in a good way. Even the more relaxed cues have this quality to them. "Vale of Plenty", for example, gives us a slow, relaxed theme performed by violin, but since it's backed up by electric guitar and harsh electronics the end result is a cue that's uneasy, introvert and somewhat "dirty". The same goes for "Mogadishu Blues" which is a three minute cue dominated by a lovely acoustic guitar performed by Heitor Pereira
, supported by subtle electronics. The dirty and raw side of the score is emphasized further by the use of the electric guitar. And we're talking really heavy and dark chords here...
Black Hawk Down
is probably not everyones cup of tea. If you're expecting a score dominated by a hummable, memorable theme you are sure to be disappointed. The six minute long "Leave No Man Behind" gives the listener a lush and emotional rendition of a theme. It's pretty much the only uplifting cue on the entire score and brings back memories of The Thin Red Line
(although don't ask me why), performed by piano, cello, electric cello, guitar, synths and other instruments. It has a very Irish quality and is really a quite beautiful part of the score. But that's pretty much it when it comes to longer, beautiful themes.
It's also worth to note that Lisa Gerrard
, of Gladiator fame, makes an appearance in "Gortoz a Ran - J'Attends" together with Denez Prigent. It's a typical Gerrard song, although written by Prigent, and is, I suppose, OK. But nothing more. Two other songs are included on the soundtrack. "Barra Barra", performed by Rachid Taha
, can be described as an African rock song, while "Minstrel Boy", performed by Joe Strummer
and The Mescaleros is a very Irish sounding pop song. Both work really well with Zimmer's score, so there really is no reason to program your CD player to skip past them.
Read other recent reviews by Andreas Lindahl: The Rocketeer
, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
, The Phantom of the Opera