Hans Zimmer,
Black Hawk Down
(Universal Classics, 2001)

It took veteran score composer Hans Zimmer 15 pressure-filled and extremely stressful days to compose music to go along with a movie about a short, stressful period. Black Hawk Down was based on Mark Bowden's experiences in Somalia while he was a member of a United States peacekeeping force dispatched to Mogadishu, and the music is a very telling counterpart to the movie.

As I sat on my porch, sipping iced coffee and listening to this astounding adaptation, pictures of violence and blood danced through my mind, along with images of two different groups entwined in a gory dance to the death. I couldn't help but think about the ravages of the battles fought in the streets of Mogadishu, the deaths that took place there, the screams and cries, the sobs.

The indigenous sounds combined with the more familiar Western sounds is an example of one of extremely powerful methods employed by Zimmer to bring listeners to the setting and introduce them to the groups. Yet the results are geometrically more complex and artistically rewarding, with thrash guitar and speed metal/hip-hop/martial rhythms encroaching on, then fusing with, the timeless indigenous music of North Africa to become something wholly other.

I also like how Zimmer created a more hopeful piece to air during the ending titles. After listening to "Minstrel Boy" and "Leave No Man Behind," it appeared that Zimmer was able to get into Bowden's head and permeate his spirit to such an extent that was able to convey the hope of returning home, the relief about getting out alive and the desire to move on with his life. The vocals used are also haunting; they stay with you for hours, even days, on end.

My favorite track is "Gortoz A Ran-J'Attends." Although you may not understand a single word of the lyrics, you are listening to the unmistakabe sound of futility. The vocals of Lisa Gerrard are absolutely phenomenal in creating the mood.

This is some of the most compelling music that I have ever heard come out of a movie because it fits the movie so well. I would highly recommend it.

[ by Melissa Kowalewski ]
Rambles: 16 March 2002

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