Saturday 21 March 2015

La Corta Notte Delle Bambole Di Vetro & Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura - Ennio Morricone

I can't believe I haven't been alerted to or discovered this soundtrack until now. I somehow missed this when it first got released in 1998, only 27 years after it was recorded. I mean I know Morricone is a man of many soundtracks but why is this one remaining in obscurity? La Corta Notte Delle Bambole Di Vetro is outstanding. Its in that zone where his Argento soundtracks were. That's a great zone, one of my favorite sonic places to visit. La Corta Notte... is a giallo film that was the directorial debut for Aldo Lado. The La Corta Notte... soundtrack was recorded in 1971, around the same time Ennio recorded the OSTs for Argento's The Cat O Nine Tales, Four Flies On Grey Velvet and The Bird With Crystal Plummage, Fulci's A Lizard In A Woman's Skin, Rubartelli's Veruschka and Castellari's Gli Occhi Freddi Del Paura. He was certainly having a purple patch in 1971.

The music Ennio Morricone arranged for La Cotra Notte... is tense, intensely creepy, very minimal and unmistakeably Morricone does giallo. This music has more in common with Morricone's experimental improv side project Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza than his famous Spaghetti Western scores. Here he doesn't use funky psych guitars at all though (Like he does with the Gruppo or on A Lizard In A Woman's Skin etc.) leaving the score peculiarly sparse. Some tracks are dementedly atonal. There are horror motifs throughout so its not as audacious as the unpredictable score for Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura (which was recorded with Gruppo) but this is still brilliantly eerie, dark and experimental. Sometimes its like you can hear and feel the air on this recording. On several tunes a woman (Edda Dell'orso) who sounds like she's been tortured and then forced to sing appears with crippled fearful tones for your disturbing delight. It's apparently a film about some kind of hostage situation so this makes sense. Sospiri Di Morte features a deep breathing lady (Dell'orso again) over really baleful, minimal and muffled percussion, which is one of the most extraordinary soundtrack moments I've ever heard. Like the previously mentioned soundtracks, this score works perfectly as an album all by its nightmarish self. I've just noticed that Morricone scored Lado's next handful of films which include another giallo film, a science fiction flick and a video nasty. Still more to discover.....

1971: A hell of a year for Morricone.
While we're on the subject I might as well say a thing or two about the (pictured just above) aforementioned soundtrack Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura. Now this was another 1971 soundtrack but it didn't get a release until 2000. I didn't miss this one. I think it has been reissued again in the last year or two. So Morricone recorded this with his improv band Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. This score is not only one of the best soundtracks ever, its also one of the best albums ever. I guess people into AMM, Nihilist Spasm Band, Spontaneous Music Ensemble or Miles Davis in the 70s should take a special interest here. This is some top notch improv jams under the direction of the one and only Bruno Nicolai. Produced by none other than Gianni Dell'orso. We've got fuzz guitar duelling with jazz bass and electronics. That's just for starters. This LP is so unpredictable you never know where it's heading next. There's many a clank and a scrape to be heard amongst other haunting sounds. The group had been going since 1964 and are considered one of the pioneering collectives of experimental composers. It was by no means Morricone's band. Other members included Egisto Macchi (library music legend), Walter Branchi and Franco Evangelisti. I think it was Evangelisti who got the whole thing together. They were aspiring to a new form of composition through improvisation and other methods such as (like John Cage) chance. Apparently they sometimes used the game of chess as an inspiration. Anyway the credits on this one go to Morricone but that seems arbitrary as surely everyone contributed to each tune. Fabulously free percussion mixed with of sour sax/trumpet(?) and textural keyboards play their part on this recording. More than anything though its not the separate sounds that make up the music its the sound of the unit itself. This is an incredibly switched on unit comparable to Can and the ensembles Miles Davis put together in the 70s. Half the time I don't know what's making the sounds anyway. This doesn't sound like any other soundtrack I've ever heard. Most of the time you forget this incredibly fluid music even went with images as the tangent of where the hell they'll go next has you so engaged. You start to feel that your own ear is also an integral part of the unit as well...sort of becoming one with the music. This is a hell of a strange trip that never gets old. They have other albums as well, maybe I'll discuss them another time. Its quite hard to believe a film director just saying 'yeah sure' to this mental project. This is a unique record that could have a special place in your heart if you give it a listen. Like Harmonia's Deluxe this is an unheralded classic of 20th century music that deserves a better status.

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