Hans Zimmer - King Arthur OST
I'll be honest and say that I'm not one for humour in music. Occasional moments are fine but when I think of funny albums, I think of live recordings of Bill Hicks not The Macc Ladds or George Jones' Clubsound, both of whom are inexplicably still together, which only suggests that neither believe we've yet suffered enough.
So imagine the surprise, then, when turning this CD case over to find that three of the pieces of music on this soundtrack to King Arthur are titled Woad To Ruin, Do You Think I'm Saxon? and Another Brick In Hadrian's Wall. Like Pink Floyd calling Time, That One With The Clocks or calling Brian Damage, The Looney Song, any grandeur that is brought to this soundtrack by association with the film evaporates on seeing the tracklist. That may not be entirely surprising, however, given that everything that's been seen about this version of the story of King Arthur suggests that John Boorman's epic Excalibur will remain the definitive telling, leaving this as what happens when Jerry Bruckheimer decides that he likes Ireland so much and, without being given the option to buy it, makes another film after his biopic of Veronica Guerin.
Musically, the Original Score to King Arthur by Hans Zimmer is a close companion to Howard Shore's work on the three Lord Of The Rings films. Therefore, the pounding accompaniment to onscreen battles fades to more gentle pieces influenced by Irish traditional music, often within the same track and with individual songs lasting up to eleven minutes - Woad To Ruin clocks in at 11m31s - there is plenty of scope for variation. Some editing, though, would not have lost sight of the feel that Zimmer is going for whilst still giving the listener time to recognise one song as being different to another. The main criticism of this soundtrack is that every song, by their sharing of motifs across the album, fades into one another without there really being any feel of having one ending before another begins other than a few seconds of silence. Indeed, the only track that stands out is the first, Tell Me Now (What You See), on which Moya Brennan takes on the role normally occupied by Enya when Hollywood calls for a quiet singer of traditional Irish music.
Listening to the King Arthur soundtrack as one single piece of music is not unenjoyable but it does tend to simply drift by where something like Ennio Morricone's soundtracks for The Mission, The Good, The Band & The Ugly or Once Upon A Time In America do not. Even John Boorman's choice of well-known classical pieces was more inspired than this, particularly in his use of Wagner's Siegfried's Funeral March for his opening scene of Excalibur as Merlin watched Uther Pendragon attack. But given that the merits of this soundtrack will be measured against the film, it's success is out of Hans Zimmer's hands, having more to do with Jerry Bruckheimer and Antoine Fuqua. Assuming that King Arthur is a typical Bruckheimer production, expect this music to suffer under the barrage of visual gloss and a story that strains to be thought of as grand.