5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Black Gold is a great score from James Horner. It's a story that takes place during the 1930's in the Arab states at the start of the oil boom. What is unique about it is that James Horner is going into territory you rarely see him in. It's always magnificent to see composers trying new genres or subject matters you wouldn't think of them doing. James Horner nails it and is successfully able to give his style the ethnic undertones it needs to craft the setting. The score is definitely a James Horner score as it bleeds with his style. With heavy strings he is able to create a wonderful romanticism that flows in the music and makes this a great listen.
We start off with Arabian vocals that bring us to the setting and set the atmosphere. The lush orchestrations envelope you and carry you on this very rich journey. I know it's lame to use the term "rich", but the music is indeed rich. The quality and emotional impact of the music will leave a lasting imprint on the listener. There are tragic undertones and the score builds towards a climactic battle cue. You'll feel like you're listening to a classic film score just because the orchestrations and thematic variation feel so traditional. I would classify the score as a sweeping epic because it definitely has that feel. After the almost 1-hour running time is over you feel a sense of emotional satisfaction. It's a wonderfully structured score worth listening to.
I know there are a lot of James Horner critics out there, but he applies his style quite wonderfully to Arabia. He never tries to make an Arabian sounding score. Some people may find similarities to Lawrence Of Arabia, but I promise you it feels very much like a James Horner score. The rich quality of his strings craft a classic romanticism rarely heard in scores anymore, and the music really soothed me. It's a wonderful score and if you're a fan of James Horner (how can you not be?) then you must check out Black Gold despite the fact that the movie is relatively unknown.
on August 30, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
So, film music. Where is it now, exactly? What is it now, exactly? Four words... overly mundane and nowhere. Only two composers really do it properly consistently, maestro John Williams and the intrinsic James Horner.
Black Gold is an example of the now non-conforming ways of scoring a modern motion picture. James Horner is no doubt a genius at what he does and upon listening to this (I have several times now), and watching the film, you can understand why. First and foremost, the music is written for the film, not its own sake, or for the purpose of album sales. It was written merely for the marriage and this makes it humble in nature.
You could call the score monotonous for it's very few themes, two if I'm correct. However, it is nowhere near that. The way these two themes are used throughout is what's genius. It never gets boring. They never get boring. James has infused an immense amount of intelligence into orchestrating this score and often has the two themes intertwining, so as to merge the idea of the desert, the families and the struggles they bestowed themselves to have. (He was asked by the director, to score the wind, or the night, or how the night would feel or sound in musical terms... which must've been a joyous challenge... see track 1)
The highlights, by far though, are those intimate moments in the middle, with the amazing vocals of Dhafer Youssef, singing along to James Horner playing the piano. Heartfelt and gorgeously depressing, those three or four tracks are addictive and bittersweet. A good enough reason to buy the whole album, mind you the rest is filled with James Horner's 'never Arab sounding' orchestra sweeping across your ears, which in itself is enough of a reason to be alive.
The beauty of all this and his next score as well, 'The Amazing Spider-Man', is the fact that he actually writes this music at a desk and conducts the orchestra. There was no need to go to a computer and write something on a synthesizer or a few of them. The best film music is the orchestral kind. The kind you walk out of a cinema humming all day long. You can do this with this score. While the film wasn't the best thing ever, the score certainly was one of the best of 2011, along with, of course, those of John Williams.
With today's composers moving to computer generated trash, John and James will consistently produce the best scores in the film music world. Pay the most attention to them.
on June 25, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This score is simply wonderful.
Majestic, lyrical and sweeping. This is an experience. James Horner is in fine form with this score. I have not seen the film but the soundtrack has taken me to a world far from my own and keeps me there.
on November 3, 2013
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
Fantastic soundtrack-I work to a lot of this kind of music and love it-I've not seen the film, but it's pure magic to listen to.