I haven’t seen Conquest, Lucio Fulci’s extremely low budget entry in the early 80’s wave of sword and sorcery flicks inspired by Conan The Barbarian, for about 20 years. I had it on video and, despite me liking much of Fulci’s work [though he is very erratic after about 1983], I never bothered to upgrade it as I remembered it to be a rather dreary effort which made no sense whatsoever. Its score, or rather most of it, has previously been available on other labels, released on the same CD with music from Aenigma and Midnight Killer, or with music from Manhattan Baby. As well as the usual remixes, Rustblade’s release adds two new score tracks which probably make the soundtrack now complete, which alone should make fans of the movie, score or Simonetti want to buy it….well, as long as they have a record player. Rustblade’s Limited Edition release doesn’t also include a CD, which seems like a shame considering that not everyone has a record player, and is a bit of a strange decision truth be told, but I guess Rustblade know their market.
Conquest marked Fulci’s only collaboration with Claudio Simonetti, but it was certainly a very fruitful one musically and one wonders why they didn’t work together again. Somehow, Conquest inspired Simonetti to compose a score quite different from what you’d usually expect from him, though over his career the man has managed to straggle the divide between having a highly recognisable style and experimenting with something different every now and again. Aside from one flute track, the score is all synthesiser. While it does have a couple of short themes which a bit of me wished Simonetti had done more with, Simonetti main goal’s musically here seems to be using Fulci’s shoddy film as an excuse to experiment as much as he can with the sounds his synthesiser can produce, and the result feels really very innovative and advanced. A slight downside as a listening experience is that some of the tracks seem unnaturally short and aren’t allowed to develop or make enough of an impression, but there’s still a lot to enjoy from what virtually works as a genuine ambient music experience for much of the time.
The first track Conquest, which I imagine plays over the main titles, is essentially a mood piece with long notes playing a slow motif rather than a theme as such, arpeggios and a very unearthly sounds. It’s an unusual opening for a Simonetti album that’s for sure. Flutes In The Night immediately sounds a little more bit more like typical Simonetti with its repeated patterns, though he doesn’t often use the flute to do this. Night Creatures seems like a natural continuation of Flutes In The Night as it has a similar atmosphere despite being the first track to bring in a beat. This beat, the sometimes improvised-seeming note patterns alternating with a short but strong theme, and played above long slow notes, come together to create a very unusual but appealing track. The Capture is simple dramatic drum stuff and barely makes an impression with its short length, but The Cavern returns partly to the sound of Night Creatures, though with no beat and lots of pronounced arpeggios. Killer Moles, the first newly released track, creates another somewhat strange vibe with its weird sound effects and bursts of quick chord patterns coming in every now and again. Black Bird is slightly more conventional synth sonorities but still odd sounding, with a two note pattern that sounds like a siren eventually getting pleasingly out of control. The second new score track, Zombies In The Dark, sounds [appropriately considering it’s scoring a zombie scene in a Fulci film] a bit like it could have come from Fulci’s favourite composer Fabio Frizzi, simple patterns playing over a very catchy beat. The first side ends with Lonely Man, with a archetypal Simonetti tune backed by more odd sounds, though it’s too short to stick in the mind.
On to Side Two, and we begin to a remix of The Cavern, but one that also considerably extends the piece and adds passages of Orbital-like techno and a couple of lines from the film to create a really quite mind bending track. Funny Hunt is just over half a minute long of slightly comical-sounding notes ending with a snatch of the main theme of The Cavern. Then there’s a remix of Night Creatures, though not by Simonetti, which opens with some words from the film’s trailer and adds an extra snyth layer to make the track a little more downbeat until a dancey beat comes in. Dolphin is just average synth doodling but Simonetti’s own remix of Night Creatures is very good even if the added synth bits don’t really improve the piece. But Conquest 2016 is a terrific revamping of the title piece that makes it almost unrecognisable, with extra things all over the place, notably the theme from Night Creatures and an overall dance music approach which could make this a rave anthem if played at one.
Though I would have personally ordered things a bit differently so we had all the score tracks together and then the four remixes, this is still a pretty good and rather interesting album. It’s not necessarily very ‘easy’ music, aside from perhaps the last track, but some of it has quite a unique quality and just shows how innovative film music can be, and how overlooked much of the film music that’s written ‘outside’ the conventional ‘classical’ style is. I reckon that any broadminded film music fan should give it a go. The Conquest score really does conjure up striking images in the mind which are probably better than what Fulci came up with in the film.
1) Conquest Main Theme
2) Flutes In The Night
3) Night Creatures
6) Killer Moles
7) Black Bird
8) Zombies In The Dark
9) Lonely Man
1) Cavern (Claudio Simonetti Remix)
2) Funny Hunt
3) Night Creatures (Stefano Rossello Remix)
5) Night Creatures (Simonetti Remix)
6) Conquest 2016
The Conquest soundtrack, Limited Smoke Transparent Vinyl + Poster Edition , is available for 19.90 Euros from July 29th. Pre-order yours today online here: http://www.rustblade.com/2016/conquest/