EL CHAPO is an American TV series, which is a co-production between Netflix and Univision. The series enjoyed a successful run after premiering on Univision in the April of 2017, then it was picked up by Netflix for a worldwide release. The series which is in Spanish with English subtitles focuses upon the central character of JOAQUIN Guzman (EL CHAPO) and opens in 1985 when he was a low-ranking member of The Guadalajara Cartel and charts his rise to power and his eventual installation as the Head of the Sinaloa Cartel. We then see him fall from his high-level ranking as the series follows his downfall. The series which is an absorbing and highly entertaining watch stars Marco de la O in the title role and boasts an interesting and gripping soundtrack that is a collaboration of three composers, Andres Sanchez Maher, Gus Reyes and Eduardo Aram. The score is a rather low-key affair, but it has many qualities and is brooding and dark in parts which is perfect for the series. The composers utilize solo guitar on many of the cues and this is augmented and embellished by taught but sparingly utilized stings which underline the guitar performances with a shadowy and apprehensive sounding support. There is always an element of uncertainty within the score, it has an uneasy knife edge atmosphere about it, only on the odd occasion breaking away from this with a fleeting light sound. But again, the music mirrors and underlines what is occurring on screen and works for the series wonderfully. Thankfully the music for the series will be released on CD shortly, with a digital edition available now on the usual music sites. I asked composer Gus Reyes about the release of the soundtrack, was this a complete recording of the music for the series?
This soundtrack is just a small compilation of the entire score. Univision and Sony asked us for a CD length version for its release. Maybe we will release a more complete version of the score soon. We´ll see. In the meantime, we are happy with it and we hope everyone who enjoyed the series likes it.
With three composers credited for the series what was the level of collaboration between them when writing the music, or did each composer handle certain cues?
Andrés Sánchez and my-self have been collaborating for a long time. So, when we were asked to work in this Series we thought it would be best to call Eduardo and build a music team that could tackle all the project needs. We had an equal collaboration. The 3 of us wrote tons of music, sometimes arranging, producing and performing several instruments on the score. It was an incredible combination of minds and musical ideas. As the series went into its 3rd season I think we managed to achieve an interesting and mature sound.
The series is one of those productions that once you start to watch it you can’t stop, it’s like an addiction if you like and you crave more as it progresses and develops. The music plays a very big part within the series and for me sounds in parts like the style of Ennio Morricone when he was working on the early Spaghetti western films, not as in operatic or big statemented themes but with the use of instrumentation, such as percussive elements, subtle electric guitar, strings and support from electronic avenues. and, with the catchy sounding hooks that are scattered throughout the score, with the most apprehensive or dark sounding cues still having to them a thematic identity even if but a brief one. BENJAMIN’S REVENGE for example having shades on the sinister theme from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. I think this is also evident in cues such as JOURNEY TO JUAREZ, it is dark and brooding and is a track that I suppose we can describe as a smouldering tension builder, but it still has to it a melodic appeal with strings rising gently and briefly mid-way through.
The theme VIENEN A VERME which opens the recording and the series, sets the scene for what is to follow in the score, with a dusty sounding trumpet solo introducing a Spanish vocal performed by iLe, ILEANA MERCEDES CABRA LOGLAR. The second cue, TUNNEL OP is the longest track of the score weighing in at nearly seven minutes, this is a tense and nervous sounding piece, which builds and builds as it develops, the composition being layered and halted then continued as it reaches its supressed conclusion. This is a score that you should check out, it is not only interesting and innovative, but it has an immense entertainment value, Recommended.