Alberto Iglesias' music for "The Kite Runner" is something of a departure from the composer's previous contributions to Spanish cinema. His previous score for Pedro Almodovar's Volver was a profoundly romantic affair in which the composer expressed his interest in various Flamenco styles. With The Kite Runner he goes further still with traditional music by bringing it to the forefront of his compositional approach to the score. It works beautifully.
"The Opening Titles" acts as the foundation to the rest of the album by establishing the style and ambience to be explored further throughout the soundtrack. The Eastern zither meets the Western orchestral movements in perfect harmony. Usually instruments such as the Zither or the Oud are used as background accompaniment in most Middle-Eastern societies, so it seems obvious that Iglesias' inspiration comes from the New Wave of musicians such as Anouar Brahem that use the instrument in a very lyrical and personal manner. On the other hand, tracks "The Call, Kabul 1978" and "Az Man Begurezed" are very different in their approach. Iglesias toys around with reverberated chanting and other such techniques that seem to reflect a more modern kind of soundtrack. These elements do not feel awkward though - they provide a much needed sense of universality to The Kite Runner.
"Kite Shop" takes yet another direction. It introduces breezy flutes that soar above all other instruments and sound almost like traditional Chinese music. "Sin" takes this principle even further with an entrancing solo on some exotic wind instrument. The most impressive tracks come near the end of the score. "The Stadium" surprises with an unexpected burst of electric guitar whilst "Escape" provides a thrilling clattering of percussion with agressive piano notes hammered down in rapid sequences. More vocal tracks such as "Dukhtare Darya" and the album's last track "Supplication" require an ear accustomed to traditional Afghan singing. For this reason I find these slightly inferior but there again that it just my opinion.
All in all The Kite Runner manages to celebrate Afghan folklore as much as expand upon it with plenty of wonderful and unique arrangements. This soundtrack acts as a perfect introduction to the music of Alberto Iglesias and with it the composer won his second Oscar nomination. More information about the soundtrack CD can be found at these links: Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.