Black Hawk Down


At first I wondered if I should do a play by play, and considered against it, but then I thought of how I always do my music. That and looking at the tracks and their times made me decide I should go ahead. There are only 15 tracks and each one has its own unique length that merits a reference. However, it is important to keep in mind the setting of this soundtrack; during a wartime situation with considerable death, fast moments, but with an overall sense of desolation. You’re not going to find anything truly happy here. There is no glory, no winner, just reality. Onward.

1.) Hunger – 6:35 As to be expected, a slow beginning, with a lone singer. Everything is foreign here; Solmalian (is that a word?), so things are going to be sung in a language we don’t understand, but we can feel what is being conveyed. A little before the 4 minute mark, things pick up with foreign strings, but with a little modern twist; some mixing, perhaps a grinding guitar or two, dropping off at 5 minutes into a lull and fading soon after.

2.) Barra Barra - Rachid Taha – 5:47 This was actually one of the more intriguing tracks. I won’t lie. When I first got this soundtrack and was listening to it in my dorm, I felt inclined to close my door because I was concerned of what people would think. It is definitely something different – some might look in and think I was listening to “Arab music” or something. But forget all that; the song cool. I have no idea what Rachid is saying, but with the rockin’ guitar in the background, along with the leisurely foot tapping drums, it’s good times. Things slowly pick up until Rachid is nearly shouting his words, but it all works, so no worries.

3.) Vale of Plenty – 3:12 It makes me think of Southern strings, something homestyle American but with a hint of that sad Somalia in the background. It’s as though it wants to be strong, but is so stuck in this place, this situation, that it’s hard to be, and can only go evenly along, almost hard to tell which type of music is supporting the other, until the end.

4.) Chant – 2:33 Jingle-jangle go the little cymbals. I’m reminded a bit of Gladiator here actually, but not for too long because the mood draws tense. Drums pound, strings pluck – silence.

5.) Still – 4:47 Still is exactly was it says. Very little instrumentation here, mostly violins, only to aid the lone singer, whose voice echoes into a place we can’t see. It tells of emptiness – of places void of hope, or with so little left, they don’t know where it’s hidden… The kind of song you listen to either to augment an already depressed mood for your own background music, or to avoid for the very same reason.

6.) Mogadishu Blues – 2:53 A lonesome little string vibrates with hints at a rising crescendo – that never happens.

7.) Synchrotone – 8:54 It’s quiet…too quiet. Electric violin springs up at you and draws out the climax you want to occur, but this is where things take a turn. How about a little synth for you? There’s more mixing here than you would have expected and it leads you on for about 4 minutes before the guitar makes its appearance, laying it on thick and heavy, before abandoning the song and letting the drums tap away. From there instruments trade off and leave us with a bit of something soft…

8.) Bakara – 3:12 I remember this one. Haha. This is a weird one. Ethnic hip-hop anyone? No, there aren’t any words – at least none we can discern. There is something being said, but it’s so far ingrained in the background, it becomes more like another instrument, another puzzle piece in the song. There is one spot were someone finally comes out singing (not in English, of course), and then things just go back to the way they were and head on out of town from there. Kinda reminds me of the work done in Samurai Champloo

9.) Of the Earth – 2:18 So reminded of Gladiator here. The low tones, the low vocals, the track name for heaven’s sake! Short, quiet, the end.

10.) Ashes to Ashes – 4:42 Slow, the lone lamentations of an exotic instrument (actually you’d know it if you heard it), and drops off into fast paced electric violin and drums with a dark undertone much different from the way things began. They swirl around until they finally just spin apart and we’re left with a void that drums try, and fail, to fill.

11.) Gortoz A Ran-J'Attends - Danez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard – 5:51 This is probably one of the most emotion-grabbing track on here. Nearly 6 minutes of pure lamentation. Okay, maybe it’s not lamentation – I don’t know what anyone is saying, but it’s just got this feeling between the two singers of something so sad and lost, with hope so far away…I don’t even remember where this fits into the movie anymore. I can’t watch the movie, I end up hating and pitying mankind too much. I guess this song is able to reflect the despair I feel sometimes. But it’s oh-so-good, don’t let my feelings get in the way. It is very reminiscent of Gladiator as well, if you’re familiar with the vocals there. And yes, I do believe that is a lone bagpipe in there… ^_~

12.) Tribal War – 2:38 I am so very reminded of a redone version of The Pirates of the Caribbean’s “Swords Crossed.” No, seriously. It’s like a souped up version of rockin’ out drums and strings. Very weird.

13.) Leave No Man Behind – 6:18 As usual, a quiet start…actually, the whole thing is pretty quiet. It’s like the sad soldier song, even getting a piano involved. It tries to rise up, but it’s been beaten so much, it’s hard to. The soft drums lend encouragement, but it just can’t crest the hill before it. So it continues on, faint flutes lending their strength, and as a whole, it almost has a taste of something southern….or irish….yes, I know, sounds odd…maybe I’d be more on the mark to say something like Civil War style…old soldier. Yes, I think that’s it.

14.) Minstrel Boy (film version) - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – 5:41 Going along with that old soldier boy feeling, this has got it. The soft humming, the steady drumming, gentle strumming of a guitar, it just has tired soldier written all over it. It’s a very lovely, albeit sad (but that’s all too expected in this soundtrack), and it sort of just makes want to go find someone in the military and give them a hug and just look up at them, smile, and say thanks.

15.) Still Reprise – 2:12 Quite like its counterpart, only this time half the length and with a strong, yet lonesome string replacing the singer in his duty to echo.

I think Zimmer likes to try new things. He went for ancient Roman glory in Gladiator, samurai honor in The Last Samurai, and Old English clashes in King Arthur. Perhaps he enjoys a challenge, and I must say he always lives up to them. The man is good, no doubt about it. I have no problems with his work.

Something I don’t do often is mention how often I listen to the soundtrack I’m reviewing. Actually most of the time I’m super-excited about it so it comes across like I listen to whatever-it-is-at-the-time a lot. True, a lot of my soundtracks get tons of replaying (Lord of the Rings and Gladiator come to mind). However, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t listened to this soundtrack in years. In fact, I forgot I had it until one day I was moseying about in my music and realized, oh, I still have Black Hawk Down music. Doy.

So will I listen to it again and again now that I’ve revived it? Doubtful. I’m not in the mood to listen to sad, echoing songs with mournful singers. If I want that I’ll get out my Gladiator soundtrack where I can at least get in some uplifting ones too. That’s really the only problem with this soundtrack. You either have to really love the movie or just really want to listen to what the music has to offer, otherwise there’s a good chance it will bring you down from whatever high you might be on. Good music overall, but not the best replay value for casual listening.

NT

Originally published on Epinions.com


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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.