Gustavo Santaolalla – Iguazu

June 17, 2009

Today’s MSMOTD

Gustavo Santaolalla – Iguazu (from the “Babel” film score)

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Santaolalla isn’t a household name, but there’s a good chance that you’ve heard his music.  While he’s had a lengthy career, fronting several bands, his greatest success has come in film scoring.  He has written award winning scores for movies such as “21 Grams”, “The Motorcycle Diaries”, “Brokeback Mountain” and “Babel”, with the latter two winning the Oscar for best original score.  His film music largely features atmospheric acoustic guitar work along with airy vocals/instrumentation.  If any music can be described as both “light” and “foreboding”, it is his.  He’s also a master of simple but hauntingly compelling melodies.  I actually just realized, as I was researching for this post, that I’ve been playing a variation of a theme of his on the piano without even realizing it.  I heard it once and it stuck in my head for years.

He reminds me of the Chief from Battlestar Galactica, but less *resolved*.

He reminds me of the Chief from Battlestar Galactica, but less *resolved*.

Iguazu, the MSMOTD, must be his absolute favourite song, as he’s featured it on at least 3 separate soundtracks, including Babel (this version) and earlier iterations on “21 Grams”, “Collateral” and “The Insider”.  I have loved this song for years for its gorgeous but foreboding melody and intricate finger picking.  I wish I could play like this, haha.  I love the atmosphere of this piece.  Great for studying, or a night time drive through the countryside.  Apparently it’s named after Iguazu Falls, which is located on the Argentinian/Brazilian border and looks amazing!

(A live performance of De Usuahia a la Quiaca from “The Motorcycle Diaries”)

I’ve featured another two songs below, the first being The Wings, from “Brokeback Mountain”.  This is the song that I was unintentionally playing (or at least, the first 5 notes) and is short but beautiful, anthemic and immediately memorable.  I dare you to not have it stuck in your head.  The whole score won the Academy Award, but this song is my favourite of the lot.  Can Light Be Found In The Darkness is a very different sort of track from “21 Grams”.  It’s foreboding, like Iguazu, but much more ambient, with reversed samples and a very unsettling metal jingling which puts my hair on end.  A very effective track in context, from what I remember of the movie.

I’ve only really featured his film score music here, but he’s done a ton of other more rock/folk/latin oriented work with which I am unfamiliar.  If you know his other stuff and can recommend some, be sure to share your insight in the comments!

- Mons

More music from Gustavo Santaolalla

Gustavo Santaolalla – The Wings (from “Brokeback Mountain”)

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Gustavo Santaolalla – Can Light Be Found In The Darkness? (from “21 Grams”)

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Further info about today’s MSMOTD

Official Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/gustavosantaolalla

Wikipedia Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustavo_Santaolalla

Buy the soundtracks for Brokeback Mountain and Babel from Amazon.com or download Iguazu from their MP3 service.

4 Responses to “Gustavo Santaolalla – Iguazu”

  1. I think my favourite out of all of these was Can Light Be Found In The Darkness? I listened for the metallic sounds you mentioned and it gave me shivers, like someone was sifting shards of glass back and forth. Santaolalla may be unassuming in appearance, but put a guitar in his hands…
    :)

  2. Yeah, he’s pretty amazing :D I want to play guitar as well as him. It’s such an expressive instrument.

  3. I can truly agree with that. I took guitar lessons as a kid, and even though the only song I fully remember is Greensleeves, there is nothing more expressive to me than to coax that melody from the strings depending on how I feel. (My one musical talent: Variations on Greensleeves! In stores soon…:P)

  4. Hey, Iguazu was in Deadwood! Awesome :)