Black Hawk Down—Ridley Scott's film version of Mark Bowden's harrowing report on the fatal 1993 U.S.

Black Hawk Down—Ridley Scott's film version of Mark Bowden's harrowing report on the fatal 1993 U.S. military debacle in Somalia—is a hyper-intense, even gut-wrenching cinematic experience. Although music might seem beside the point in such a painfully realistic film, the score actually provides affecting ambience; yet the vital aspect of the music doesn't reside wholly in Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer's synthesized shifts between Arvo Pärt-derived tragedy and Near Eastern pastiche. It stems more from the input of two African artists, along with the smoldering electro-organic rumble of the score band led by ambient guitarist Michael Brook. Baaba Maal traces arabesques of emotion through Zimmer's opening "Hunger," with the West African star's vocalise adding scene-setting gravitas. Upping the ante is Parisian rai star Rachid Taha's own "Barra Barra," a metallic groove of Third World/First World collision that has near-visceral force. The more pop offerings here—insipid new age from Denez Prigent and Lisa Gerrard, plus Joe Strummer's tediously sentimental "Minstrel Boy"—are merely distractions. Brook, guitarist Hector Pereira, and company provide more meaningful sounds on "Mogadishu Blues" and other cues, although extra material from them would have added value to the CD.—BB