Best known for his work with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and his Oscar nomination for The Constant Gardener score, Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias has created another haunting masterpiece for director Marc Forster’s new film The Kite Runner.

Providing a soundtrack laden with Afghan-influenced rhythms and instruments as well as the more familiar violas, cellos, and violins, Iglesias deftly tackles the daunting task of bringing the emotional and controversial story to musical life. With a nice mixture of wind instruments and vocals, including a strong flutist in “Russians Invade” and the “Opening Titles” track, and painfully expressive vocals in “The Call, Kabul 1978,” it’s clear Iglesias has done his research. Even the subtler moments in the soundtrack: the wailing strings in “Hassan Theme” or the soft background percussions of “The Stadium” contain a hint of the ethnic tone that dominates Iglesias’ efforts here.

What truly sets Iglesias’ soundtrack apart, though, is his ability to understand when something has already been done well and successfully incorporate it rather than mimic it. Iglesias displays this knowledge beautifully on the tracks “Tanha Shudam Tanha” and “Az Man Begurezed,” both provided by the legendary 70s Afghan singer Ahmad Zahir. Each of the tracks possesses an atmospheric beauty that both enriches Iglesias’ original score and offsets his more typical orchestral sounds.

Additional tracks by Ehsan Aman and Sami Yusuf also help to highlight the rest of the score and throw in some uplifting Middle Eastern flavor to the soundtrack. Aman’s “Dukhtare Darya” and Yusuf’s “Supplication” are the most enjoyable and memorable tracks of the album, perhaps because they possess more “song” characteristics than the remaining score tracks. Overall, though, the soundtrack for The Kite Runner can’t be written off as an instrumental bore. There is a life and passion Iglesias sends through his music that makes this score immensely listenable.

Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: A moving musically ethnic experience
Stay Away if: You’d rather just go fly a kite

To purchase The Kite Runner soundtrack, visit Amazon

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