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philippe View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: RPI and classic european trash cinema
    Posted: February 13 2008 at 13:21

Italian progressive rock themes within European trash cinema

 

This essay treats about  the collaboration of many progressive rock bands and artists for cult  soundtracks released during the 70’s expansion of Italian gore-giallo-splatter cinema.

The band Goblin

 

The history of non academic, undeground cinema in Italy started with police dramas, commedia all'italiana, spaghetti western but also with the so called horror, B grade films. Mario Bava is surely the strongest personality who successed to renew the european “cinema of terror” back in the 60’s, revealing extreme representations of violence and searching  a new visual aesthetic.  His great successors (Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Joe D’amato, Lamberto Bava...) will lead the italian gore cinema to an escalation of shocking scenes, treating with necrophilia (Buio Omega...), parapsychological themes and magic (Suspiria, Inferno...) with primitive sacrificial tendencies (Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox...), sadistic perversions, contamination, live after death (Dawn of the dead, Contamination), psychic trauma (Patrick, Martin…). However the use of extreme imagery is always used in artistic end and most of the directors never rejected the intellectual thoughts, symbolical projections, rethorical references or social engagements. This specific genre reaches a state of maturity during the 70’s with the release of classic films such as "Solamente Nero" (Antonio Bido), "Nelle Pieghe Della Carne" (Sergio Bergonzelli), Profondo Rosso (Dario Argento), Gently before she dies (Sergio Martino). During the 80’s the same directors will consolidate the spectacular effects and will be more focused on visual obessions, “The Shock” (Mario Bava) will mark a turn to more explicit horror films, followed by ultra violent atrocities as Buio Omega (Joe D’amato), House by the cemetery (Lucio Fulci)...The success of these macabre, atmospheric, surreal B movies wouldn’t be the same without the release of gorgeously haunted soundtracks whose many have been composed by Italian progressive rock bands / artists. What would be the gothic-shoking horror films of Argento without the sulfurous, eccentric scores from the band Goblin? The first "nightmare" progressive soundtrack is probably "Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura” (1971), a sensual and weird, haunted, free-abstract psych-jazz trip written by Ennio Morricone and  Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. The score written by Goblin for the giallo masterpice "Profondo Rosso" (1974) will announce a prolific collaboration of progressive rock musicians with Italian directors.  In this first album, Goblin bring to the fore all the ingredients that will make the typical signature of a classic italian horror soundtrack: groovy / funky bass lines, deep buzzing synth sequences, minimal obsessional melodies and rockin’ guitars. The omnipresence of  free jazz inspiration, sometimes delivering kitschy sensual moments maybe takes its source in the music of Riz Ortolani who released several film scores in the 60’s, I’m notably thinking about "Une Sull’Altra" (1969). Speaking about Riz Ortolani, this composer and orchestral director released a classic soundtrack for the movie "Nella Stretta Morsa Del Ragno" (1972) that prefigures things from Goblin: dissonant guitars, synth weirdness and grandiose atmospheric strings. Goblin released their most successful release for Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977); an efficient, jazzy-rockin’ hybrid with lot of lugubruous, mysteriously trippy atmospheres. The band contributes to the most prolific collaboration in the history of horror cinema, providing a large catalogue of monumental soundtracks notably for Dario Argento (Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, Tenebre, Phenomena…), Georges Romero (Dawn of the dead, Martin), Lucio Fulci (Buio Omega). We have to notice that Dario Argento also asked Keith Emerson to provide the material for the soundtrack of La Chisea (1988) and for the movie Inferno (1980). The result is annoying and out of place (thinking about the mediocre score for "Inferno". The music in itself is honest but it doesn’t fit with the film)  if you compare it with the personality and the unique flavour of Goblin’s music. The band Libra (founded by ex-Goblin members) released a solid progressive, groovy electronic rock soundtrack for the superb movie “The Shock” (1977). The classic progressive rock band Osanna also had their time with the genre, writting (in collaboration with Luis Bacalov) a courful, expressive and complex soundtrack for the film "Milano Calibro 9 OST" (1972). Wen Goblin disbanded, the keyboard player Claudio Simonetti specialised in the writting of Italian cinema scores. He particularly composes a 80’s lo-fi electronic score for the classic gore movie "Demoni" (Lamberto Bava). Not far from Claudio Simonetti and always turned to opressive, macabre electronic textures / e-guitar lines to create the tension,  Fabio Frizzi released the music for the unconventional zombi film called “The Beyond” (1981). In the same vein, there’s also Carlo Maria Cordio and his intoxicated macabre “new agey” electronic “Killing Birds” for a B grade movie released by the crazy Joe D’amato at the end of the 80’s. Stelvio Cipriani who composed a tone of scores for B movies during the 60’s / 70’s delivered his best work with Goblin in the terrific “Solamente Nero”. Stelvio Cipriani also released a Goblin-esque score for “Ring of Darkness” that is highly recommended. My favourite italian progressive rock sountrack remains the catchy “La Via Della Droga” (1977) by the band Goblin (that I consider to be among the best scores written by a progressive band for the cinema with the dreamy-like “le berceau de cristal” by Ashra Tempel, the transcendant “Aguirre” by Popol Vuh and the menacing but superb electro-atmospheric “body love” by Klaus Schulze). In this quantitative profusion of scores and movies, the quality is not always evident and the neophyts can easily be lost. To sum up things you can have a look on what I consider to be the best Italian progressive rock soundtracks for B grade movies:

 

Selected works (top 10)

Profondo Rosso – Goblin

Suspiria – Goblin

Buio Omega – Goblin

La Via Della Droga – Goblin

The Beyond – Fabio Frizzi

City of the living dead – Fabio Frizzi

Milano Calibro 9 OST – Osanna

The Shock – Libra

Solamento Nero – Goblin & Stelvio Cipriani

Ring of Darkness – Stelvio Cipriani

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tenebre (Dario Argento)
 
The house by the cemetary (Lucio Fulci)
 
 
Claudio Simonetti (ex-Goblin) and Dario Argento (director of Italian trash cinema)
 
I will try to publish (soon) on this page a few reviews related to the albums mentionned.
 
Andrea's recommendation for reading


Edited by philippe - February 23 2008 at 17:00
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 13 2008 at 13:30
excellent Philippe... GREAT job.  Now I need to get off my ass and see some of these movies damnit hahhah.

and get some more of these albums for that matter.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 13 2008 at 13:35
I wouldn't bother seeing the movies if I were you... At least, they are definitely NOT the kind of thing I would ever go for!LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 13 2008 at 13:37
Originally posted by Ghost Rider Ghost Rider wrote:

I wouldn't bother seeing the movies if I were you... At least, they are definitely NOT the kind of thing I would ever go for!LOL


sounds like my kind of thing actually hahhahha.  You are such a sweetheart... I"m the bk.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 13 2008 at 14:33
I have just bought Suspiria Smile 
 
And thanks to Philippe for this fabolous essay, i am really interested in several of the movies listed here, of course i am also interested in their respective soundtracks as well.

Follow me on twitter @memowakeman
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 13 2008 at 16:00
many of these italian horror movies are horrible but if you got a weakness for trashy splatter movies, go for it!
i have seen many italian horror movies when i was around 16 (6 years ago) and even though i didnt know what prog was at that time I was amazed by some of the soundtracks goblin did for these movies. the soundtracks sounded so different to what i was used to and definetly not like your everyday movie soundtrack.
interestingly enough i saw another italian horror movie (i think it was "the church") with some of my black metal friends last year and when the soundtrack kicked in there were a lot of  "crazy"synth melodies and guess who was involved in the soundtrack: keith emerson. :D
unfortunately i forgot who was resposible for the main part of the soundtrack but the fact that there was good music running in the background every now and then made the movie bearable to watch. ;)

btw.: of all the italian horror movies i would recommend dawn of the dead (the old one of course). it actually has something that could be called a storyline and does not boil down to the guessing game of who dies next. it might be a bit confusing but it's fun. dont get the ultimate edition, though. it's just too long to watch. it puts more sense into the beginning but i think it clocks in for over 2 hours. if it were as fun as star wars, lord of the rings or matrix (or any deep movie) this would be alright, but sadly it's not. it's still an italian horror movie. :)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 15 2008 at 14:07

Stelvio Cipriani – Italian composer for movies scores

 

This guy is certainly not a rocker LOL but I need to mention his contribution in order to define the typical italian musical signature for B grade (horror) movies. Jazzy trained musician, Cipriani composed more than 200 soundtracks for movies. He begane his work in the 60’s  for Spaghetti western  and  published two classic soundtracks for Italian Giallo-gore movies called Solamente Nero (1978) and Ring of darkness (1979). The first one has been performed by Goblin and the second one features an evident Goblin-esque flavour.

 

Here are reviews I’ve written for each of them:
 
Solamente Nero - Goblin & Stelvio Cipriani (1978)
 
 

Solamente Nero is a brilliant progressive rock soundtrack written by Stelvio Cipriani (major italian composer for B grade movies)  for the thriller-giallo movie released by the prolific Antonio Bido. The atmosphere of the film is constantly intriguing, tormented and mysteriously baroque. The amazing, atonal, jazzy rock, weird electronic soundtrack perfectly goes with the film. The entire music evokes the movie. It has been performed by the famous band Goblin. Consquently all the specific, original musical ingredients that make the universe of the band are here: menacing electronic weirdness, groovy bass lines and stylistic jazz sequences. The opening theme reveals a suspensful atmosphere with dramatic, sinister melodies. The rest combines with perfection pulsing hypno motifs, georgously dark soundscapes, pseudo-cassical arrengements, minimal grooves. This album contains a lot of good surprises and remains a true classic of the genre.  Similar to the most captivating, catchiest things offered by Goblin (Suspiria, Profondo Rosso)

 

Italian director Antonio Bido
 

Un ombra nell ombra - Stelvio Cipriani (1979)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Originally written for the italian gothic-horror movie Ring of Darkness (Un ombra nell ombra) this soundtrack is like a mellow version of Goblin scores. The music provides a dense, complex fusion between spaced out melancholia, orchestral sequences, kitschy electronics , discreet jazzy rock moments, creepy buzzing synthscapes. The self title track develops a moody, mysterious rockin’ electronic theme with insistant groovy bass lines, minimal melodic synth-lines and an emotionally charged orchestrated atmosphere. Really efficient stuff, in the vein of the best Goblin. Almost all compositions are excellent developping an unique ambience, sometimes experimental & atonal (good vs evil), weirdly jazz melodic sections within an obscure, austere electronic atmosphere (daria’s father...) and creepy, darkly synth continuums with minimal guitars (the massive monolitic drum of “the hour of infernal game” that reminds “Dawn of the dead” by Goblin or “The city of the living deads” by Fabio Frizzi, Deathwatch...). This album is a little masterpiece and figures among the most appropriate soundtracks for Italian horror movies. It admits a very closed relationship with Goblin but with emphasis on melodic, peaceful moments and disembodied dreamy-like passages.


Edited by philippe - February 15 2008 at 14:11
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 15 2008 at 14:16
hmmmm... looks like I found my next area of exploration of Italian prog.  Did the groups ... now solo artists... next soundtracks LOL  Great work Philippe Clap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 15 2008 at 20:48
fine job, Philippe     Cool
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 15 2008 at 20:50
Great read, Philippe!
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 18 2008 at 16:40
Here is a band related to this subject that you all may want to give attention to - Anima Morte:
 
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 19 2008 at 11:49

Ahh...good old video nasties.

Who's up for Cannibal Holocaust?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 19 2008 at 16:51
awesome work, love the movies and the music you've mentioned
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2008 at 14:20
Hey Phillipe or anyone else, are you familiar with the Italian soundtrack samplers called Easy Tempo. I have Volumes 2 and 5 and I like both a lot.
The music sounds similar to what you are describing here, but I did not see the names you mentioned.
Some of the composers on here include Gianni Ferrio, Leisman, Mario Molino as well as others, including one cut by James Brown!!!
Any info?


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2008 at 16:13
Hi, thanks for your comment, I don't know the names you mentionned but I'm curious to get more informations about this project if we can make parallels with the music I've described in the initial text.


Edited by philippe - February 23 2008 at 16:14
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2008 at 16:37
 
Incredibly exciting, effervescent soundtrack written by Ennio Morricone with the collaboration of  Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanz. It’s originally released for the traumatic italian giallo by Enzo G. Castellari (1971). The music delivers an hybrid, tumultuous jazz including weird concrete noises & experimentations, venomous e-guitar lines and trumpet leading fragments that remind the best things offered by Miles Davis during his late 60s period. The ambience is suspensful, mysteriously groovy and creepy at the same time. The compositions are totally improvised and provide electric, excentric free-form textures, sometimes delicately sensual, sometimes agressive with schyzophrenic tension and the add of buzzing abstract atmospheres. A classic vantgardist fusion jazz album and a notorious work in the long and fruitful collection of italian scores for the underground Giallo-horror cinema. Similar works for the exotic mayhem “Bay of Blood” and “Play Nella Stretta Morsa Del Ragno”. Cool


Edited by philippe - February 23 2008 at 16:39
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2008 at 17:22
Brilliant essay! Actually I've just recently fallen for Goblin, although I've known their music for many years.

I also love Morricone's soundtracks for Argento's early films Ucello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo ( Bird With the Crystal Plumage) and Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet). 

Especially fans of Argento, Morricone or Goblin should check them out. The former album sounds almost like dark Avant/RIO.
Over land and under ashes
In the sunlight, see - it flashes
Find a fly and eat his eye
But don't believe in me
Don't believe in me
Don't believe in me
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2008 at 18:51
Hey Phillipe, I'm listening to Easy Tempo Volume 2 right now.
In addition to the composers I mentioned earlier, there is also a track by a composer you mentioned, Stelvio Cipriani, as well as a few by Piero Umilliami who I found on PA with the band Bruens Machine.

This music is great, each track is unique. Some of the styles include psych-garage rock, weird jazz fusion, rockish lounge exotica, experimental electronics and neo-classical. Any bands or albums you can recommend would be greatly appreciated, if you think this album is right for PA let me know and I'll run it by Bob and put it in the sampler section.

I'll try to get back to you about Easy Tempo Volume 5 tomorrow, plus I think I might have some other similar compilations.

If you are interested check out a thread on prog music lounge called The "other influece" on progressive rock, it deals with various "exotic" instrumental musics. Its on page 2 now and dropping fast.

Edited by Easy Money - February 24 2008 at 00:36


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2008 at 10:06
I've just fund more informations about this collection...i've noticed the contribution of many well known directors / composers for B grade movies...however the music tends to be brilliantly kitschy,  sexadelic but absolutely not progressive. The case of Stevio Cipriani is very particular if you listen to Ring of Darkness and Solamente Nero, these soundtracks could be fully written by a 70's italian progressive rock band.  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2008 at 10:42
Originally posted by philippe philippe wrote:

I've just fund more informations about this collection...i've noticed the contribution of many well known directors / composers for B grade movies...however the music tends to be brilliantly kitschy,  sexadelic but absolutely not progressive. The case of Stevio Cipriani is very particular if you listen to Ring of Darkness and Solamente Nero, these soundtracks could be fully written by a 70's italian progressive rock band.  


Hey Phillipe, I see what you are saying. Each volume of Easy Tempo is a bit different from the others with 5 probably having the most cuts that are similar to very early progressive rock. But you are right, there are many cuts that are in other styles as well.
All the same it is a very fun collection of some very unusual and quite good music.


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