Maybe the name of Gustavo Santaolalla doesn’t sound to many, but talking about it is really playing one of the most important musicians that our continent has given, who has done everything and like few others, he has succeeded in everything he does. From rock in Spanish, to important films in the history of cinema and to video games, is one of the few artists (if not the only one) that we can listen to at all levels.

In the 90s, Gustavo was a key piece to configure the sound of rock in Latin America, producing artists such as Los Prisioneros, Bersuit Vergarabat, La Vela Puerca and Jorge Drexler. However, He would become the Midas king of music in Spanish when he arrived in Mexico at the beginning of the decade, working on key records in our country of bands. how Café Tacvba, Caifanes, Phobia, Molotov, Damn Neighborhood and more.


Gustavo Santaolalla and Café Tacvba / Photo: .

Gustavo Santaolalla was always an artist who liked to venture into different areas, that’s why in 1998 he released a new album as a soloist, Ronroco, which includes only instrumental songs and it is recorded mainly with the andean instrument of the same name. The album did not have the diffusion that was expected and to top it off, in the midst of so many projects, the musician did not have time to play it live.

For many artists, this would be a failure, but the album became a cult classic that received generally good reviews. But beyond being a stain on his career, thanks to this album Gustavo approached the cinema, since the director Michael Mann decides to include a theme from this material for the soundtrack of the movie The Insider, with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Even if Santaolalla would exploit his creativity for the seventh art with an important film for our country.

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The boom in cinema with Amores Perros

Part of the success of the first film in 2000 Alejandro González Iñárritu, Dog loves, in addition to the narrative, the director’s vision and the great performances, it was the music they used to tell us the stories by Octavio, Susana, Valeria, Daniel, Maru and El Chivo.

While, Lynn fainchtein He was in charge of curating the songs that artists like Control Machete, Nacha Pop, Julieta Venegas, Café Tacvba, Titan, Zurdok, Ely Guerra and many more contributed to the soundtrack, which made it one of the most impressive soundtracks we have heard in Mexican cinema, Santaolla’s work went further, since he had the task of reflecting the plot with original songs.

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Through sound passages, where he mixes different textures but above all and as in the vast majority of his songs, the ronroco is the protagonist. Gustavo was in charge of musicalizing the key moments of the film. Even if Later, he enters into the experimentation that characterizes him so much. (as in “Chico Groove”), combining acoustic sounds with a purely electronic base, the Andean instrument and the guitar never cease to be present,

Whether on riffs or harmonics, there is no time when these instruments don’t sound, although there is always something that unites each of his pieces, something so simple and that many do not stand out as part of the composition, the silence. This became a hallmark of Gustavo, because beyond remaining silent, he lets the moments where no notes are playing have relevance.

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Speaking specifically of the songs that came out of Gustavo Santaolalla’s imagination, in them he takes us through a lot of scenarios such as nostalgia and melancholy, but at the same time it evokes some of the main themes that Alejandro González Inárritu shows in the film, loneliness, betrayal, impulsive passions and transformation.

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The way to The Last Of Us

Thanks to the work he did in Dog loves, Gustavo Santaolalla forged an international career as a composer of soundtracks. In 2006 he worked alongside Ang Lee to create the original music of Brokeback Mountain and to the surprise of many, managed to take the golden statuette for Best SoundtrackFrom there, they began to look at their work all over the world.

Although the relationship with Alejandro González Iñárritu would not be lost, as he composed the score for the tapes that close the so-called ‘death trilogy’ that began with his debut film, 21 grams and Babel (for which Santaolalla won his second Oscar in 2007), closing his collaboration with beautiful.

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Since then, Gustavo Santaolalla worked in movies how Motorcycle Diaries, The book of life, My Blueberry Nights, On the road, Before the Flood (produced by Leonardo Dicaprio and Martin Scorsese) and in projects for Netflix such as the documentary Making a Murderer and the series Narcos: Mexico.

But in recent years it has gained recognition from the gamer community for the spectacular score he recorded for the game The Last Of Us. If anything characterized this title from the others that the Naughty Dog study had brought out, it is that connects at different levels with the audience, using emotional ties that Gustavo managed to reinforce through the original music of this plot.

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Using all the resources at hand, from an orchestra with lots of musicians, percussion instruments (some not so peculiar), banjos and their inseparable ronroco, Santaolalla created one of the most important soundtracks in video game history –Even many have made them cry with their songs–, giving a certain light to the desolate panorama that the plot of Joel and Ellie shows us.

Now, Gustavo Santaolalla returns for the second part of The Last Of Us, but without a doubt it is important to remember the path that led him to one of the games that has marked generations and that he started thanks to the work he did in 2000 with Alejandro González Iñárritu in Amores Perros. If you think about it, there is no audiovisual medium where you cannot listen to this music genius.

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