Tag Archives: Ennio Morricone

Sonor Music Editions Rediscovers The Obscure World of Italian Library Music

Sonar Music Editions

Some music is meant to be heard, but not necessarily listened to. Take library music, for example: essentially, it’s generic soundtrack music, usually recorded by work-for-hire musicians and distributed to TV and film studios to use in their productions. A studio making a documentary about deep-sea creatures might contact a library label for background music, or a TV network could commission a theme or jingle to go with its new sports show. And so while these scenes now have music, the people watching them are probably not paying too much attention to the score.

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High Scores: Jukio Kallio’s “Minit” Soundtrack Embraces Lo-Fi Sounds

Jukko Kallio, High Scores

If there is a perfect balance of lo-fi, epic, and cute, Helsinki-based composer Jukio Kallio’s soundtracks nail it every time. The 29-year-old musician, who sometimes uses the alias Kuabee—or, in earlier days, Kozilek—has carved out a fascinating niche in scoring games, making music that can feel both extraordinarily tense and brilliantly silly. From Luftrausers, which turned epic sea battles into math-y and minimalist sepia-toned fun, to the cartoonish bullet-hell Western Nuclear Throne, to most recently, the absurdly inventive and cute Minit, Kallio constantly pulls off soundtracks as memorable and eccentric as the games themselves. We exchanged emails while Kallio was traveling in Japan, where he grew up.

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The Musical Legacy of Italian Film Composer Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone

In popular culture, the name “Ennio Morricone” summons up images of cowboy hats, cheroots, and swarthy, dusty men dying in extreme close-up while a whistle sound dramatically pierces the background. Bang! Bang! Strum. Aaaaaaaaah! Clint Eastwood squints.

Morricone’s work for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western films is justly famous, but it’s only the very tip of an enormous mutant iceberg of musical genius. As an Italian film composer, Morricone worked within a huge number of cinema genres including Westerns, giallo, horror, and mainstream Hollywood productions like The Mission. His hugely influential compositions mix elements of classical music, jazz, and the avant-garde. Contemporary acolytes include artists from Radiohead to John Zorn to Jay-Z.

Exploring the music of Morricone quickly leads to more than the music of Morricone. He himself composed hundreds of scores for Westerns, horror, suspense, action, and every other pulp genre, but he was only one of numerous composers working in the idiom. Bruno Nicolai may have conducted the orchestra on Morricone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but he also famously composed his own soundtracks, including the blockbuster Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Other prolific composers of the period include Piero Piccioni and Piero Umiliani, the latter best known for “Mah Nà Mah Nà,” a song for a sexploitation film about Sweden which was covered and made famous by the Muppets.

Morricone however, having the household name in the Italian soundtrack world, stands in for numerous other composers. It’s no wonder that on Bandcamp, Morricone is not just an influence, but a subgenre. Bands with links to Italian soundtrack music, or inspired by Morricone’s Western goth, use his name as a shorthand for their style. The list below collects the best music by Morricone, his peers, and his disciples.

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Discovering the World of Italian Psych Rock

Italian-Psych-600

Italian artists have produced innumerable contributions to culture over the past few millennia—opera comes to mind, Michelangelo and da Vinci too—but the country’s vibrant psychedelic rock scene doesn’t receive quite as much appreciation. Granted, none of it quite lives up to the Sistine Chapel, but even the country’s prog bands have bubbled above the radar, largely thanks to Goblin’s synthesizer-laden horror soundtracks. But there’s just as much goodness to be found in prog’s sister genre.

Of course, Italy has a rich musical tradition that dates back centuries, providing fertile ground for inspiration. Puccini’s operas, Vivaldi’s baroque symphonies, and Verdi’s bombastic classical compositions all feed into Italian rock as much as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Nowhere is that clearer than in the bands that popped up in response to the burgeoning psych rock scene in the ‘60s and their antecedents.

As with the rest of the world, the late 1960s and ‘70s were decades of upheaval in Italy, marked by both violent battles between political extremes as well as great social progress. Art reflected that reality—just look at the nihilistic Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci, or the giallos by Dario Argento and Mario Bava that made normal life seem filled with uncanny horrors—to say nothing of the brutal, amoral polizieschi crime films of Enzo G. Castellari and Ruggero Deodato. The psychedelic rock bands of the time may have fought back against the darkness with whimsy instead of cynicism, but they too were touched by the ténèbre.

That approach continues to this day. Modern Italian psych rockers pull from foreign sources like The Flaming Lips, Kyuss, and Earthless, but still remain steeped in the traditions of their home country. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the varied touchstones of the genre for you to check out, as well as a look at the wide variety of groups carrying the torch today.

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