The Black Hole (1979), whatever you may say of the film itself (a personal favorite of mine), one cannot dispute the atmospheric power of its forebodingly gothic score by master cinema maestro John Barry. Barry, who most remember for solidifying the typical Bond sound by composing most of the music for that franchise, is a much more versatile composer than many people know. The Black Hole was a big chance for Barry to prove himself as he had never done a film like this before. While on the subject of Bond, the score for Moonraker (also composed the same year as Black Hole) is one of the most experimental of the 007 music and the track 'Flight into Space' is highly reminiscent of The Black Hole. Also very experimental at the time was Craig Huxley's "Blaster Beam", an electronic instrument which creates an expansive 'gong' sound when struck. The beam is put to great and memorable use in this but was also used to a greater extent in Jerry Goldsmith's score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), to represent the V'ger entity.
Most of the film's mood comes from the score. The scene where Capt. Dan Holland (Robert Forster) goes off exploring the U.S.S. Cygnus is made all the more eerie by the melancholy underscoring from Barry. The music becomes almost a lament for the doomed crew. I could go on and on about the score, but the best proof is to hear it for yourselves. I will say that the music travels to places and moods which you may not have expected, especially towards the end.
The story of the score's complete release is an arduous tale. For close on 30 years it had been assumed that a complete soundtrack release would never occur. But thanks to a new partnership between Walt Disney and Intrada Records hope sprang anew. Disney had all the original master tapes, there was just one catch: they were digital and could only be transfered using a long outdated piece of equipment, the 3M digital recorder.
The Black Hole was the first digitally recorded soundtrack and this provided a problem for those trying to save it. But after fighting technical error and even floods, the tracks were transfered and the much anticipated score was released upon a highly suspecting film score world. The night it was confirmed that the album was released I immediately bought it as the first pressing quickly ran out of stock. This is one soundtrack I cannot recommend enough, its loads of fun and I'm overjoyed its finally available in its entirety and in such stellar sound quality.