Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Soundtrack maestro Ennio Morricone is best known for scoring Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti westerns of the late 60's such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but those films are just a small fraction of his work--he's done music for more than 400 films. His hallmark is imaginative orchestration. A Morricone theme might use pan pipes, electric guitars, lush strings, metal scrapings and odd chorales (and occasionally orgasmic moans). He has connections to jazz and modern "serious" music too, having worked with the composers collective Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. That group is featured on a new two CD anthology of Morricone's work released by Mike Patton's Ipecac label, Crime and Dissonance. Consisting of soundtracks to mostly obscure Italian films of the late 60's and early 70's, Crime and Dissonance presents Morricone at his most far out and experimental, freely indulging in psychedelia, free jazz and just plain weirdness (it also includes some sexy technicolor stills from the films). Put on the headphones and watch the movies in your mind.

John Zorn, whose Big Gundown was a tribute to Morricone's music, provides commentary:
Like all great music the bizarre miniatures that comprise this remarkable set are still as fresh as the day they were recorded (some thirty to forty years ago) and now through the generosity and vision of a youthful and committed contemporary music master, they reach a new generation of ears to inspire even newer vistas of creativity. It is the responsibility of the few to carry the torch of truth and integrity through the dark ages we find ourselves in and this heroic set of soundtrack rarities shows us that the spirit of freedom is, has been and always will be alive and well. One only has to look for it.
Here's a sample.

Earlier: Steely Dan's Donald Fagen interviews Ennio Morricone.