What film-music buff doesn't love John Williams and, in particular, his classic scores for the films of Lucas and Spielberg? Even those without a yen for soundtracks probably have a disc of Williams' music somewhere on the shelf. With the long-awaited return of Indiana Jones comes another Indy soundtrack by the maestro, one well worth adding to your collection. Though it's nowhere apparent on the packaging as far as I can tell, this is the work of the London Symphony Orchestra. Included in the digipak is an eight-page booklet with illustrations and a liner note by Steven Spielberg. Here's a rundown of the tracks:
1. Raiders March (5:06) Goosebump alert: the disc kicks off with one of the all-time great movie themes, the "Raiders March," composed for Raiders of the Lost Ark and ever after the theme for the character of Indiana Jones. This version feels somehow a bit too clean, a bit too rote, a bit rushed (though another reviewer called it too slow, so perhaps it's all in our nostalgia-clouded heads). At any rate, it's a magnificent, brassy piece of music, enhanced in this version by the inclusion of the lushly romantic "Marion's Theme."
2. Call of the Crystal (3:50) This creeping cut lays ominous undertones and rumbling percussion under a searching builds to a threatening musical zenith.
3. The Adventures of Mutt (3:12) "Sprightly" is the word for this entertaining underscore for action involving the character of Mutt (Shia LaBeouf). The "Raiders March" recurs in variations, suggesting Indy's not-so-successful attempt to assert control over the situation--or perhaps something of Mutt's parentage. Vivacious strings carry the day.
4. Irina's Theme (2:26) Slow, swanky sax leads into a more expansive orchestral version of the theme, colored by woodwinds, strings, horns, and even a bit of harp, culminating in a Russian-toned fanfare followed by another ominous resolution.
5. The Snake Pit (3:15) This worried, worrying track again shows how ably Williams suggests movement and action, complementing the visuals, underscoring the various characters and elements with competing instruments and rhythms. "The Basket Game" from Raiders certainly comes to mind. The track varyingly climbs up and spills down, ending on a rumbling piano.
6. The Spell of the Skull (4:24) Beginning with a redux of "The Ark Theme," this track moves through militant territory into a wary showdown between untrustworthy forces, represented by "Irina's Theme," and Indy, again represented by the "Raiders March." The cut gets louder and darker still, ending with a freaky suggestion of the skull's supernatural power.
7. The Journey to Akator (3:08) A light version of the "Raiders March," repeated with more emphatic orchestration, signals Indy's travel (imagine the red dots and lines on the map). This theme gives way to a spicy Latin number dominated by maracas, bongos, trumpets, wood flute and guitar.
8. A Whirl Through Academe (3:34) With the "Raiders March" again an insistent element, this is the cue that accompanies one of the film's most memorable action sequences, the motorcycle chase through the college campus and on neighboring streets. It's a typically inventive cut of action scoring by Williams
9. "Return" (3:12) Fat bass and other low strings and brass walk tentatively through the first part of the track, met again by the otherworldly theme established in "Call of the Crystal." This cut wouldn't sound out of place in a horror film.
10. The Jungle Chase (4:23) "Irina's Theme" and the Mutt and Indy themes help to place us in the film's most elaborate action sequence, with the sultry villainous driving a jeep chase through the jungle in pursuit of our heroes. The strings dance, argue and parry, and the rhythms intriguingly hurry up and slow, then hurry up again, with brassy crescendos punctuating the action.
11. Orellana's Cradle (4:22) Sax, rustling percussion, and oddball woodwind and string phrases--with more insinuations of "Call of the Crystal" and the "Raiders March"--characterize another moody piece of underscore for Indy's archeological investigation.
12. Grave Robbers (2:29) Williams goes for more creep-out effects on this track that suggests tribal warriors with off-beat, thundering, and sometimes screeching orchestration of percussion, piano, and woodwinds. It's an impressive bag of tricks for the film's darkest action scene.
13. Hidden Treasure and the City of Gold (5:14) Delicate chimes and strings pull us into this track, which gradually hums and slides into a louder and broader soundscape. By the end, we're in a staggering, brass-heavy mind-pounder.
14. Secret Doors and Scorpions (2:17) The "Raiders March" lightly recurs through this investigatory cue, which breaks into a moment of musical discovery. The euphoria quickly yields to the fluttering strings and chittering percussion that represent the insectoid threat.
15. Oxley's Dilemma (4:46) The "Call of the Crystal" theme is the strongest element of this incidental track, which maintains a quiet tone of concern until a final bout of supernatural suggestion.
16. Ants! (4:14) The jitters and willies begin immediately in this insect-themed cue. Swarming, buzzing strings compete with dynamic horns as humans and ants do battle, and "Irina's Theme" plays a part.
17. Temple Ruins and the Secret Revealed (5:51) The "Call of the Crystal" theme returns with a vengeance in this cue from the film's climax. The Hollywood Film Chorale makes its voices heard
18. The Departure (2:27) The film's resolution gets a sensitive string accompaniment here--along with brass triplets, bells and triangles--building to an expansive fanfare.
19. Finale (9:20) The credit-accompanying suite of themes: "Marion's Theme," "Raiders March," "Irina's Theme," and "A Whirl Through Academe," with culminative reprises bringing us full circle to a stirring performance of the "Raiders March."