SANTAOLALLA: “Camino” (TrackList follows) – Gustavo Santaolalla – guitars, keyboards, all instr. – Sony Masterworks

GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA: “Camino” (TrackList follows) – Gustavo Santaolalla – guitars, keyboards, all instruments – Sony Masterworks, 88843 06073 2, 35:40 (7/08/14) ***:

I am not at all sure this is a “classical” CD but nor is it “popular music.”  Like most of Argentina native Gustavo Santaolalla’s music, this solo set falls in a lovely but hard to describe middle ground. In fact, I am not sure too many American listeners are familiar with him at all except, perhaps, for his film scores.

In fact, that is the portion of Santaolalla’s output I am most familiar with and I really like it. His scores for such films as Brokeback Mountain, 21 Grams and Babel are, like the films, themselves, introspective, beautiful and sad. In fact, Santaolalla even collaborated with Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov on sections of his opera, Ainadamar.

This collection of short works by Santaolalla is a bit like a coffeehouse set where each work is played by the composer and multi-tracked to allow him to do it all – guitar, keyboards, pipes, small percussion, etc. He is, indeed, a talented man whose guitar playing has always struck me as very fine and so “Spanish”; a sound I love.

All of the cuts here are quite nice, though I personally enjoyed Through the Rainwall and Cordon de Plata the best. If I have a small complaint it is that many of these little pieces seem to need development and end a bit soon, somewhat disappointedly. In fact, the album itself is under forty minutes. It might not be a bad idea for Gustavo to issue a double CD with some of these and some cuts off his Ronroco disc just to give new listeners a better feel.

For those already familiar with and appreciative of his atmospheric film scores, this is a nice addition. I like Santaolalla’s playing and style and I do recommend this, while wishing there were a bit more.

TrackList – (All selections by Gustavo Santaolalla): 1. Alma  2.Vamos  3.Requiem  4. Cordon de Plata  5. Ella  6. The Maze  7. Parana  8. Wait and Then  9. Through the Rainwall  10. Joaillerie  11. The Journey  12. Seguir  13.Returning

—Daniel Coombs

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