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Black Hawk Down by Hans Zimmer

Black Hawk Down

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Black Hawk Down (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Black Hawk Down
Composed by Hans Zimmer
Decaa Records (2002)

Rating: 5/10

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Listen to this soundclip of Black Hawk Down2 Barra Barra

Listen to this soundclip of Black Hawk Down11 Gortoz a Ran - J'Attends

Listen to this soundclip of Black Hawk Down12 Tribal War

Listen to this soundclip of Black Hawk Down13 Leaven No Man Behind

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“It is hard to recommend this score, but even harder not to. For the daring and for those who have a stomach for the unconventional, BLACK HAWK DOWN could be the ultimate soundtrack.”

Left Behind
Review by Christopher Coleman

Produced by Hans Zimmer
Produced by Hans Zimmer, Bob Badami, Peitro Scalia
Orchestrations by Bruce Fowler, Y Suzette Morlarty, Walt Fowler, Elizabeth Finch
Executive Producers: Ridley Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, Kathy Nelson
Additional Music: The BHD Band
Performed by Michael Brook, Craig Eastman, Heitor Pereira,
Martin Tillman, Hans Zimmer, Baaba Maal, Joe Strummer, Lisa Gerrard,
Denez Prigent, Rachid Taha

The early 2001 buzz was over Zimmer's moody hit score to Ridley Scott's HANNIBAL. Despite being somewhat forgotten by years-end, HANNIBAL was a strong effort from Zimmer - especially since expectations were catapulted to new levels with Zimmer's super-popular GLADIATOR. The early buzz of 2002 finds Zimmer smack in the middle of all the talk again. The question of the month has been if Scott and Zimmer would successfully combine their visual and musical talents again - this time for BLACK HAWK DOWN.

BLACK HAWK DOWN is certainly not the average war-story put on the big screen. With a cast of anti-heroes and the film raising more questions than could ever be answered in its course, BLACK HAWK DOWN carves out a unique place for itself in the hall of Hollywood-war-films. Likewise, Hans Zimmer and company don't take the road well-traveled for the film's score. Those hoping or looking for the magical, choral elements from African-set scores like THE LION KING and THE POWER OF ONE will definitely be disappointed. In fact, most of the elements that make the body of Media Ventures works endearing are left behind. This time, Hans Zimmer and a band of contributors including famed collaborators, Lisa Gerrard and Heitor Pereira, work hard to give BLACK HAWK DOWN a different edge. Painstakingly produced to enhance the storyline and the powerful images that Scott constructs, the music for BLACK HAWK DOWN suffers a part from the film.

Left behind this score are many of the Media Ventures staples. Some will cheer this fact, while others cringe. One's level of disappointment or pleasure from this score will depend on what sort of expectations are carried into the first listen. To expect a score containing the synthetic and militaristic material of the past (CRIMSON TIDE, THE PEACEMAKER) might not be too out of line. The film is, afterall, about an elite group of peacekeeping soldiers; however, to expect the score to be dominated by such would be a grave mistake. Judging from the images of the trailers, one might expect a moody, edgy score, with a number of indigenous elements to help construct the setting. This sort of expectation does end up hitting the mark.

To give BLACK HAWK DOWN its personality, Hans Zimmer chooses to blend the organic textures of North Africa with modern electronic music. The end result is a truly engaging experience, albeit not in the most conventionally pleasurable sense. Of course, "pleasure" is far from the intent of this film and score. The disturbing mood is set right from the beginning with Hunger (1), which features the penetrating ethnic, vocals of Baaba Maal. The track later moves into a pulsating mix of percussions, electric guitars, and cellos. Following is Barra Barra, which is an uninteresting bit akin to some North African music of GLADIATOR. That is, until drum loops kick the track into a dance-like gear. Following in this odd recipe are several successive tracks: Mogadishu Blues (6) and Synchrotone (7), and Bakara (8). Each vastly different from the other, yet portraying a similar electronic grit.

Contrasting the body of music that plays at a fever-pitch, are those which are reflective and even mournful: Still (5) and Still Reprise (15) which also feature the vocals of Baaba Maal, and Of the Earth (9). Matching the soulful style of vocalist Lisa Gerrard is Denez Prigent in track (11), Gortoz a Ran - J'Attends. The two trade solemn verses over airy synthesizers and accentuating harp. These tracks help to bring an oddly shaped balance to the soundtrack.

BLACK HAWK DOWN is ultimately a hard review. Unlike most anything Zimmer has ever done before, and arduously produced to be a perfect match for the film, the score for BLACK HAWK DOWN really warrants a very high rating. On the other hand, as a listening experience outside of the film, BLACK HAWK DOWN can be rather abrasive. Orchestral purists beware! There are only a handful of moments tucked into and thinly spread throughout this soundtrack that hold a high degree of entertainment value divorced from the images of the film. Even though the film contains moments of heroism, the film is not heroic. Consequently only one track could be considered heroic - Minstrel Boy (14) adamantly played by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros. The overall effect of the score is like that of the film - highly evocative, but in dark sense that makes one's soul groan at the human condition and its propensity to destroy itself. Decca releases yet another exceptional CD regarding sound quality and packaging. The liner notes are of the five-fold variety which include numerous storyboard sketches, lengthy editorial by Daniel Schweiger and detailed music production notes. It is hard to recommend this score, but even harder not to. For the daring and for those who have a stomach for the unconventional, BLACK HAWK DOWN could be the ultimate soundtrack.

Rating: 5/10


"The end result of Zimmer's efforts for Black Hawk Down is one of the few unique scores of the past decade. Its devestating action sequences will knock you down with their relentless and harsh pounding. The scenes of the civilian suffering in Somalia will frighten you with their stark echoing of subsistence. The underscore will challange your tolerance for cross cultural musical integration that was never meant to sound harmonious." ***

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks Reviews Black Hawk Down


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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Hunger 6:35  ***
2 Barra Barra 5:47  ***
3 Vale of Plenty 2:27  **
4 Chant 2:33  *
5 Still 4:48  ***
6 Mogadishu Blues 2:53  ***
7 Synchrotone 8:55  *
8 Bakara 3:12  **
9 Of the Earth 2:19  ***
10 Ashes to Ashes 4:43  **
11 Gortoz a Ran - J'Attends (Lisa Gerrard) 5:51  ***
12 Tribal War 2:39  ***
13 Leaven No Man Behind 6:18  ***
14 Minstrel Boy (Film Version) 5:42  **
15 Still Reprise 2:12  ***

Total Running Time (approx)





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