Hans Zimmer

Black Hawk Down [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Once again, director Ridley Scott has employed composer Hans Zimmer to score a motion picture, following their collaboration on Gladiator (2000) and Hannibal (2001). From ancient Rome to the world of a serial killer, Scott's settings vary considerably, and Black Hawk Down presents yet another musical challenge, set in Mogadishu, Somalia, during a failed mission by UN peacekeeping (i.e., U.S. military) personnel in 1993. Zimmer has done his homework on traditional North African music as it meets the late 20th century; his work combines identifiably Middle Eastern strains with elements of techno. The key to the approach is the use of vocalists Baaba Maal ("Hunger," "Still") and Rachid Taha (Taha's own co-composition "Barra Barra"). Although the music is quite aggressive early on, the later tracks reflect the mission's troubles. Denez Prigent and Lisa Gerrard's "Gortoz a Ran -- J'Attends" is distinctly elegiac, and the symphonic "Leave No Man Behind" toward the end makes it clear that, even if men haven't been left behind, they haven't necessarily been brought back alive. This sadness is given its final expression in a new recording of the traditional song "Minstrel Boy" by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros (an earlier version is on their 2001 album Global a Go-Go) that plays over the credits. Zimmer used an unusual method to play this score, putting together the BHD Band, consisting of himself on keyboards, guitarists Michael Brook and Heitor Pereira, and string players Craig Eastman and Martin Tillman, and in effect jamming on much of the music, with orchestral scoring added later. He has achieved a style that works well for the downbeat, if suspenseful, tone of the film and its exotic setting.

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