Gustavo Santaolalla

Babel [Original Soundtrack]

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

The soundtrack to Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's film Babel -- which takes place on two continents and in three countries -- is a whopping double disc of cues with original score cuts by the venerable -- and prolific -- Gustavo Santaolalla, with other material including beautiful folk songs by Chavela Vargas, ambient cuts by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto, original compositions by the great oud master Hamza el Din, urban/soul/funk by Earth, Wind & Fire, house music by Fatboy Slim, Japanese pop by Susumu Yokata, and Mexican popular music by Los Tucanes de Tijuana, El Chapo, Nortec Collective, and others -- a truly international mixed bag. This said, other than the tune by Hamza, it was left to Santaolalla to capture many of the other Moroccan moods and themes in his cues -- he did a tremendous job. But this is also where the problem lies. These two discs are such a sprawling mass with moods and textures that compete and clash, without the storyline to tie them together, that they don't always work as a stand-alone soundtrack. Some will have no trouble with great leaps in style over two discs, and for the engaged listener, Babel's soundtrack is a true delight. A case must be made, however, for a separate recording of Santaolalla's haunting and deeply moving score, accomplished with a minimum of instrumentation, immediate and intimate production, and plenty of space. This takes nothing away from the rest of the music here; it's just that the original score comprises 19 different cues in a total of 36 and deserves to be heard as a complete piece. If there's any doubt, try recording his own cuts to your iPod and hearing the result for yourself. For those who have seen the film, it is true that this set does not carry or reflect the gut-tightening tension inherent within it -- and yes, that's a very good thing. It does serve as a pleasurable listen over one disc at a time. Cautiously recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Gustavo Santaolalla 01:46 Amazon
2 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Chavela Vargas 02:42 Amazon
3 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Earth, Wind & Fire / Fatboy Slim 06:29 Amazon
4 Gustavo Santaolalla 04:49 Amazon
5 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Keigo Oyamada / Amedeo Pace / Ryuichi Sakamoto / Sketch Show / David Sylvian 05:48
6
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Celso Pina y Su Ronda Bogota / Control Machete / Blanquito Man 04:42 Amazon
7 Gustavo Santaolalla 02:07 Amazon
8
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Rip Slyme 04:19 Amazon
9 Gustavo Santaolalla 01:55 Amazon
10 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Jaques Morelenbaum / Everton Nelson / Ryuichi Sakamoto 11:25 Amazon
11 Gustavo Santaolalla 02:29 Amazon
12 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: El Chapo de Sinaloa 03:17 Amazon
13
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Nortec Collective 03:20 Amazon
14 Gustavo Santaolalla 01:22 Amazon
15
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Los Tucanes de Tijuana 03:50 Amazon
16 Gustavo Santaolalla 01:19 Amazon
17 Gustavo Santaolalla 01:57 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Ryuichi Sakamoto 09:43 Amazon
2
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Incomparables 04:05 Amazon
3 Gustavo Santaolalla 02:11 Amazon
4 Gustavo Santaolalla 00:24 Amazon
5 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Susumu Yokota 04:52 Amazon
6 Gustavo Santaolalla 00:54 Amazon
7
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Incomparables 03:36 Amazon
8 Gustavo Santaolalla 02:55 Amazon
9 Gustavo Santaolalla 00:47 Amazon
10 Gustavo Santaolalla 06:13 Amazon
11
Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Takeshi Fujii 04:35 Amazon
12 Gustavo Santaolalla 00:54 Amazon
13 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Daniel Luna 03:38 Amazon
14 Gustavo Santaolalla 01:31 Amazon
15 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Hamza el Din 04:58 Amazon
16 Gustavo Santaolalla 02:05 Amazon
17 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Agua Calientes 03:33 Amazon
18 Gustavo Santaolalla 02:50 Amazon
19 Gustavo Santaolalla feat: Yuichiro Gotoh / Jaques Morelenbaum / Ryuichi Sakamoto 07:15 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick