I'll freely admit that even to this day, it only takes a few bars of John Williams' iconic "Raiders March" to make me want to eat PB&J sandwiches and put playing cards in my bicycle spokes. As such, it's hard for me to judge my appreciation for John Williams latest Jones score beyond the draw of nostalgia, which, appropriately enough, is practically the only reason to see the film it accompanies.
Album: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (score)
Like the film, the soundtrack serves as a sort of reunion of old friends from the past. Besides the ever present "March," Williams also briefly revisits "Marion's Theme" from the original Indiana Jones film, in coordination with Karen Allen's welcome return to the role of Jones' female foil (featured in the middle of "Finale"). Similarly, Williams also weaves in "The Map Room" into the song "The Spell of the Skull," taking the haunting original into an other-worldly realm.
Speaking of other-worldly, the song "Call of the Crystal" is the new song that I remembered the most from the film, and its haunting melody instantly had me thinking of several things that it reminded me of. From Williams' own back catalogue, it brings to mind both Close Encounters of the Third Kind and "The Fortress of Solitude" from Superman, which makes sense, and all these instances deal with the dissonant juxtaposition of real and "other-worldly." Of course, in my search it didn't stop there, instead leading me to the under-appreciated work of Alexander Courage, whose score for "The Cage" episode of Star Trek feels so present here (hear "Vena's Punishment" or "End Title"). Williams cut his teeth as a 12-year-old piano player in Courage's orchestra back in '57 with Funny Face and they worked together on projects all the way through Jurassic Park. Williams was even called upon to host this fascinating tribute to Courage (that you have to see) so familiarity of Courage's work is undeniable.
Besides all the great orchestrated mash-up going on, we're also treated to some of the cultural sounds of the locales, with the Latin feel of "The Journey To Akotar," and even some Russian folk for our antagonists, with music from the band Balalaika Ensemble Wolga (note: BEW's songs don't appear in the released soundtrack).
Whether it's mostly nostalgia or just my nerdy recollection, the music of this soundtrack works some magic on this fan's ears.