Too many soundtracks feel interchangeable, and rare are the composers who really capture a movie's core. But Javier Navarrete has succeeded in his Oscar-nominated score for Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth,
a dark fantasy set in 1944 Spain. The first cue, "Long, Long Time Ago," sets the melancholy tone with piano and voice; the spectral piano pops up several more times, and the theme is more fully developed in "Mercedes Lullaby." But it's the second track, the aptly titled "The Labyrinth," that really gives the listener insight into the movie's tenebrous universe. While Navarrete can certainly do short, intimate pieces dotted with telling arrangements (like the few trumpet notes adding a subtle Spanish flavor to "Rose, Dragon"), he excels on the longer tracks, such as "Not Human," which goes through a succession of moods, each one increasingly scary, without ever going overboard into cheap, demonstrative effects. Navarrete has already had a long career as a film scorer in Spain, and this won't be the last American audiences hear from him. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
Sountrack to director Guillermo del Toro's 2006 horror/fantasy film starring Ivana Baquero.