‘Gustavo Santaolalla has a gift for capturing moments and, more importantly, feelings that are hard to put into words.’ – NPR
A remastered edition of Grammy and Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla’s beloved and critically acclaimed 1998 album Ronroco is available for the first time on vinyl via Nonesuch Records. The singer, composer, and producer’s classic album comprises twelve original tunes inspired by traditional Argentinean music and influenced by music of Japan, Africa, and eastern Europe. The record takes its name from the ronroco, a South American stringed instrument. “I’ve been playing this instrument since I was a kid, collecting songs and thoughts about this record for a long time,” Santaolalla said. “The idea was to make a non-traditional album, a sonic landscape.”
Ronroco features Santaolalla on charango, ronroco, Andean pipes, whistles, and guitar, in collaboration with long-time partner Aníbal Kerpel on vibraphone and melodica. Twenty-five years after its original release, Ronroco is a project that Santaolalla holds special affection for: “This album materialized a different, less known side of me,” he said. “The challenge was to keep it simple without giving up some rough edges, staying within the boundaries of the subtlety and delicacy that this music needs.”
The New York Times called Ronroco, ‘a gentle, folky instrumental album... unworldly.’ The inclusion of one of its songs in the soundtrack of The Insider was the first step in Santaolalla’s now storied career as a soundtrack composer. The Los Angeles Times said the album had a ‘serene, austere quality... and enjoyed limited commercial success. But it quickly became a cult item among world music aficionados and artists from various disciplines.’ The paper quoted Benicio Del Toro, who said, “It's an album that doesn't demand your attention. It just embraces you.”
Filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, with whom Santaolalla has collaborated several times since composing the score for Amores Perros in 2000, said in the album’s new liner note: “Ronroco conjures bucolic images and feelings for me. There’s always a note that surprises, breaks the pattern of the rainstorm, turning into silence, a gentle drizzle, or escalating into a tempest. This is Santaolallismo for me. A vast sound and emotion, a thousand times emulated, never duplicated. No one plays that small instrument like Gustavo, for it’s an extension of him. The enchantment of this album lies within a minimalist musical parameter, a range that’s subtle yet at the same time expansive and majestic. Like the landscape from where the ronroco originates: the Andes, the natural habitat of this, until then, almost unknown instrument.”
Gustavo Santaolalla is a singer, composer, producer, guitarist, and entrepreneur. He began his music career at age sixteen with the band Acro Iris. He formed the band Wet Picnic in the late 1970s and began a solo career that includes five albums: Santaolalla (1982), G.A.S (1995), Ronroco (1998), Camino (2014), and Qhapaq ñan (2015). Santaolalla has composed scores for such iconic films as Amores Perros, 21 Grams, The Motorcycle Diaries, Brokeback Mountain, Babel, and On the Road. His scores for Brokeback Mountain and Babel won Oscars for Best Original Score. In 2015, he composed original music for the popular TV show Jane the Virgin and the controversial Making a Murderer. In 2002, Santaolalla combined his talents as producer, performer, and composer and formed the electro-rock tango collective Bajofondo. Santaolalla has won additional awards including two BAFTAs, a Golden Globe Award, two Grammy Awards, and fourteen Latin Grammy Awards. On November 12, 2023, Santaolalla received a Trustees Award from the Latin Recording Academy for his tremendous contributions to Latin music.