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Black Gold by James Horner (Review)

posted Feb 29, 2012, 9:33 PM by Kaya Savas

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.