I keep intending to review more movie soundtracks for HorrorCultFilms and never seem to get around to doing it. Luckily Rustblade Records,the company behind the re-releases of the soundtracks to Profondo Rosso/ Deep Red and Demons, are bringing out an interesting-looking compilation of tracks from the man who I believe is possibly the greatest of all movie score composers, with I think only John Barry, John Williams, Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrmann also really worthy of that title. That person is, of course, Ennio Morricone. The sheer diversity of his output, his ability to experiment and often do the unexpected while at the same time provide memorable tunes at the drop of a hat, his skill at delving deep into the dark heart of mankind and create incredible unease while giving us melodies of such exquisite beauty; the man is brilliant, and still at the age of 87 still going strong with his score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and other recent fare like The Best Offer/ Deception, both of which show him still able to write music that is fresh and challenging.
Rather than bring out yet another collection of those themes which almost every true movie lover will recognise after just a few notes, Rustblade Records, probably inspired by the renewed interest in Morricone’s work which has just led to him getting a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, have brought out a different kind of Morricone compilation that is closer in nature to a number of Morricone albums that came out from various labels over a decade or so ago with titles like Morricone:High and Crime And Dissonance. Being that I’m a Morricone fan but one who will never have the money nor time to obtain and listen to anywhere near all of his output, I was pleased to note that Paura, which leans to the darker, murkier side of the Morricone world, consisted largely of material that I’d never heard before, with only three tracks which I was familiar with. Now I should emphasise right now that this isn’t the ‘easiest’ of listening experiences, and if you’re relatively new to Morricone then this isn’t really the place to start. For a start there is very little of Morricone’s immense melodic gifts on display. However, if you’re quite ‘well up’ on his well known stuff and want to delve deeper, then Paura should be quite a rewarding listen, albeit not an album to put on at any given moment! The music is often quite frightening. However, given the right mood, there’s much to enjoy.
The first track, Copkiller, is the main theme from the 1983 police drama of the same name [also called Corrupt] and it immediately holds the listener with its catchy Lalo Schifrin-like rhythm over which increasing sinister chords, often in typically Morricone-esque ascending chromatic patterns, play. Track two, In Peino Petto, comes from Senza Momente  aka Without Apparent Motive. This is another cop thriller, but this piece really could have come from a horror movie with its genuinely unnerving string patterns which play over a frantic, melodramatic piano pattern. The main theme from Il Trio Infernale  aka The Infernal Trio, another modern day thriller, ambles along pleasantly in laid back fashion, again with the piano taking prominence with a simple melody that almost sounds like a dry run for a far more dramatic usage of this musical idea in the main theme for The Hateful Eight, plus the typical chromatic progressions that provide a sinister edge every now and again. Oltre Il Silenzio is from 1972 psychological thriller Il Diavolo Nel Cervelo aka The Devil In The Brain. Here, the composer shows his ability to get inside the head of an insane person with those creepy long string chords and unsettling piano patterns which include a quote from Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Evaporazini from 1972’s Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura aka The Cold Eyes Of Fear, one of the three films showcased in the collection that I’ve actually seen, brings in the composer’s giallo sound, very reminiscent of tracks from The Bird With The Crystal Plumage with its free form jazz and Morricone’s own strangulated trumpet playing. The main theme from 1973 spy thriller Il Serpente aka The Serpent, provides a more serene close to the first side with a pleasant organ piece which is probably as closest to Morricone’s trademark lyrical side as you get on this album!
Corleone  is, as you might expect, a Mafia drama. Its main theme is a fine example of Morricone’s ability to get a lot out of a simple repeated musical pattern and a tune [again for organ] which doesn’t really have a form and seems like it could go anywhere, though the track is one of my least favourites on the album. Then we have Passeggiata Notturna from The Cat O’ Nine Tails , the only soundtrack out of the ones represented here that I actually own. In the film, the composer splendidly turns Dario Argento’s two main characters simply walking through a cemetery into an incredibly suspenseful set piece, sinister patterns from flute, violins, piano, electric keyboard and strings playing over a creepy rhythm combining to great effect. Assassinio Sul Lago is another track from Il Serpente, and it’s quite nightmarish with its scraping electronic-sounding patterns and whooshing aural effects, then it’s onto Caccia from Richard Burton-starring psycho thriller Bluebeard , good effective pursuit music with stabbing strings and whiffs of the memorable cymbolin theme from that movie, though it’s not a stand out track and a bit too brief to make a major impression. Qui Ci Scappa Il Morto, from the 1970 giallo Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, has a guitar pattern later used in a couple of cues from The Cat O’ Nine Tails, and more avant garde jazz dissonance. The Bum is from the score to a film I like immensely, Guiseppe Tornatore’s existential psychological drama Una Pura Formalità [aka A Pure Formality] from 1994, and I keep meaning to buy this score. A simple two note mandolin pattern and the familiar heavy chromatic strings set a disturbing tone. And finally we have Diario Di Un Pazzo from obscure 1976 TV movie Drammi gotici, which brings the album to a really unsettling close with a unsettling collage of somewhat ‘altered’ recordings of people talking and laughing bridged by a macabre dance in the middle.
And there we have it. Though I found two tracks a little weak, there is alot of terrific and very unusual music on this well sequenced album which showcases a very different side to Morricone than many are familiar with. Some may find it a somewhat difficult listen, so be warned, but, played under the right circumstances, it should create quite good atmosphere if you’re enjoy the darker side of things, even if not many of the pieces selected are from actual horror films.
2) In Pieno Petto
3) Il Trio Infernale
4) Oltre Il Silenzio
2) Passeggiata Notturna
3) Assassinio Sul Lago
4) Barbablù (Caccia)
5) Qui Ci Scappa Il Morto
6) The Bum (Il Barbone)
7) Diario Di Un Pazzo
Paura: A Collection Of Scary And Thrilling Soundtracks, is available from Rustblade Records on limited edition [499 copies] transparent vinyl for 19.90 Euros on 16th April. You can pre-order it here: