TALKIN' ABOUT
MORRICONE GIALLO
ENNIO MORRICONE

NOTES     REVIEWS

Dusty Groove 

A collection of classic horror soundtrack work from Ennio Morricone -- mostly early 70s material that represent the maestro at the height of the early giallo genre! The tunes here are often a bit more obtuse, atonal, and abstract than some of Morricone's lighter grooves -- and his work for the genre is arguably even more sophisticated and dark than the images on the screen -- filled with complicated orchestrations, odd patterns of sound, and really striking instrumental moments. The tunes here aren't for the feint-of-heart -- and they include some of Morricone's tensest recordings ever! CD features 22 tracks in all -- with some of the most chilling material from the films Copkiller, Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura, Il Gatto A Nove Code, Le Foto Proibite, L'Uccello Dall Piume Di Cristallo, Giornata Nere Per L'Ariete, Senza Movente, and La Corta Notte Delle Bambole Di Vetro.

Movie Grooves

Much like the excellent Crime and Dissonance and Psycho Morricone compilations, Bella Casa's Morricone Giallo explores The Maestro's "traumatic music" - his meditations on fear and tension that were composed for movies in the 'giallo' (stylish, violent thrillers) genre. Not necessarily a relaxing listen, but an interesting one nonetheless. Great for Halloween!

All Music Guide by Richie Unterberger

The "giallo" genre of film is a certain kind of Italian thriller, and although it's not the sort of thing that Ennio Morricone is most known for scoring, he did do quite a few soundtracks for giallo movies. The 73-minute Morricone Giallo CD compilation has 22 excerpts from almost a dozen such soundtracks, all but three of the cuts taken from 1970-1972 movies (with one from a 1975 film and a couple from a 1983 film). As the liner notes point out, though the giallo soundtracks included a lot of bossa nova and Euro-lounge type sounds, this particular disc "focuses on the darker cues that Morricone spattered throughout his giallo soundtracks." So these recordings are very light on melodies and motifs, and instead heavy on noirish suspense and ambience. Morricone's work is so wide-ranging and versatile that it's impossible to say what a "typical" or "characteristic" effort by the composer is, but this collection is, perhaps, some of his more atypical stuff, if such a thing exists. There's little to hum or engage the listener tune-wise; the emphasis is on spooky orchestral swells, rattles, clattering drum patterns, occasional shivering gasps, ominous throbs and sprinkles of notes, atonal near free jazz, discordant bell-like tones, and such. It's usually not out-and-out horror movie material, but certainly maximizes edgy aural atmospherics that don't let you relax or let down your guard. As such, it's not recommended for the usual Morricone listener (again, if there is such a thing); it's more challenging, less entertaining, and less eclectic than the vast majority of Morricone compilations on the market. For those serious fans of the composer looking to investigate one of the less celebrated corners of his oeuvre, however, it's worthwhile and well assembled, though the liner notes are heavier on details of the actual movie plots than their scores.

All Music Guide by James Manheim

The presentation of this disc doesn't make it clear what you're getting, but delve in further and you'll find a useful collection of a somewhat obscure corner of Italian film composer Ennio Morricone's output. To begin with, Giallo is not the name of a film but that of a genre of Italian fiction and cinema. A rough translation might be "pulp fiction." The back of the booklet has an ominous-looking drawing of a black bird, with the text "The Original Soundtrack Recording: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, composed by Ennio Morricone." Actually, only two of the album's 22 tracks are devoted to that film, originally titled "L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo." The other selections come from 10 other films in the giallo genre, mostly made between 1970 and 1975 (the final score, that for Copkiller, is from 1983). The genre drew a consistent style from Morricone, harder-edged and more violent than his better-known scores for spaghetti Westerns or for big-budget epics, and the listener just getting to know Morricone through those works is likely to be fascinated by the visceral sounds collected here. Morricone was at his most experimental in these scores, which drew the attention of jazz experimentalist John Zorn well in advance of the wider Morricone revival. The orchestra typically consists of percussion; winds that contribute a layer of tense, dissonant harmony; and modified keyboard or plucked-string sounds that seem to anticipate fully electronic scores. Morricone was plainly aware of both the latest developments in modern jazz and the contemporary sounds issuing from the universities of Italy and Germany, but he rejected the abstractions of both in favor of a physical human appeal. A very voice-like muted trumpet stands in the foreground in several tracks, and actual human voices, fragmented and pained, figure in several others. The experimentalism of Morricone's scores is counterbalanced by his pop instincts; sample "Parabola del Paradosso" from Il gatto di nove code (Cat o' Nine Tails, 1971) for a fat bass line that could be described as funky, not long after that word started to be used for music (it starts about a minute into the track). Then, for contrast, try "Seguita," track 8, from Gli occhi freddi della paura (Cold Eyes of Fear, also 1971), for music that's a full frontal assault on the senses. The booklet basically provides a plot summary of each film; more information about Morricone at this stage in his career, as well as translations of the individual track titles, would have been helpful. But this is a useful collection of music by a composer increasingly viewed as among the most significant of the last century.

 

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