ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989....

ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989. patchworks; the brief liner notes ... and scratched piano strings to pull against the
ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989. patchworks; the brief liner notes ... and scratched piano strings to pull against the
ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989. patchworks; the brief liner notes ... and scratched piano strings to pull against the
ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989. patchworks; the brief liner notes ... and scratched piano strings to pull against the
download ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989. patchworks; the brief liner notes ... and scratched piano strings to pull against the

of 4

  • date post

    30-Jan-2018
  • Category

    Documents

  • view

    224
  • download

    5

Embed Size (px)

Transcript of ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC) More Morricone nbsp; Ennio Morricone in 1989....

  • 34 CHICAGO READER | DECEMBER 16, 2005 | SECTION ONE

    Music

    By Peter Margasak

    Ennio Morricone turned 77last month, but age appar-ently hasnt slowed himdown much: according to theInternet Movie Database heswritten scores for two feature-length films and five TV pro-grams that came out this year,and four more movies hesworked on are slated for releasein 2006. Ive yet to encounter acomplete list, but hes quite likelythe most prolific film composerin history, scoring somewherebetween 450 and 500 moviessince 1961.

    More important, hes one ofthe few film composers worth lis-tening to outside the context of amovie: whens the last time youyearned to hear a sound trackCD by John Williams or DannyElfman? The vast majority offilms have a score or incidentalmusic of some kind, but only ahandful of visionaries likeBernard Herrmann and NinoRota have achieved legendarystatus by reinforcing andenhancing the vision of a film-maker while also creating musicthat works without the visuals.

    Even if you dont know hisname, you know Morriconesmusichis work for spaghettiwesterns directed by SergioLeone and others is now sofamiliar its become the stuff ofparody. The twangy electric gui-tar and spooky whistling (bothperformed by longtimeMorricone sidekick AlessandroAlessandroni), the lonesome har-monica stabs associated withCharles Bronsons character inOnce Upon a Time in the West,

    the fake ay-ye-ay-ye-ay coyotecryall have become signifiersfor hard-boiled characters fromthe old west. But thats only atiny proportion of his vast reper-toire. Hes written more conven-tionally orchestral scores forDays of Heaven, The Mission,The Untouchables, and Bugsyall of which earned Oscar nomi-nations. And perhaps unsurpris-ingly given the sheer size of hisoutput, hes created music forloads of sleepers, clunkers, andcult items in a variety of forms:documentaries, spy flicks, horrormovies, and giallo filmsa genreof stylized Italian thrillers. Themovies themselves might be sub-par, but Morricones done excel-lent, highly distinctive work onthem, creating music rife withdaring experiments in melody,structure, and instrumentation.

    For years reissues ofMorricones sound tracks tothese lesser-known films hasbeen limited to imports where noeffort was made to separate hismost original pieces from morefunctional themes. Crime andDissonance (Ipecac), a two-CDset compiled by Alan Bishop ofthe Sun City Girls, changes allthat. The carefully assembledcompilation focuses on the dark-est, most experimental momentsfrom the sound tracks to Italianfilms made between 1968 and 74(and one from 81). The musicshad a clear influence on the folkswho put the new CD together:Ipecac is co-owned by Bay Areanutjob Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle,Fantomas), who sharesMorricones taste for stylistic

    More MorriconeA brilliantly curated trove of the sound track masters lesser known works

    ENNIO MORRICONE CRIME AND DISSONANCE (IPECAC)

    Ennio Morricone in 1989

  • patchworks; the brief liner noteswere written by avant-jazz iconJohn Zorn, who delivered afeverish take on Morriconescompositions on his 1985 albumThe Big Gundown, wildly magni-fying his herky-jerk sensibility.

    Morricones had a keen interestin jazz throughout his career; inthe 60s he played trumpet in thelong-running radical Italianimprov outfit Gruppo diImprovvisazione NuovaConsonanza, which performs twoof the pieces on the compilation.Seguita and Folle Folle havedifferent percussive frame-worksthe former is loose, thelatter more swingingbut bothuse wah-wah guitar, sour trum-pet blurts, bowed bass scrapes,and scratched piano strings topull against the rhythm, creating

    an exquisite tension. Jazz is thetouchstone in all these works,which are often decidedlycreepythere are patches of freeimprovisation and tightlydeployed swing passages, withmusic in between that seemsdeliberately designed to unnerveyou. The brief Studio di Coloresounds like the Gil EvansOrchestra wandered into a west-ern, the dark brass harmoniesturning its cool jazz murky.

    Miles Daviss electric periodalso had a strong influence: thereare loads of squealing and dis-torted electric guitars, roilingand funky bass lines, andHarmon-muted trumpet cries.But instead of letting the musicsettle into extended grooves,Morricone keeps the pieces terseand frequently juxtaposes other

    sounds: dissonant piano clusters,female heavy breathing thatcould be heard as sexual ecstasyor sheer terror. His compositionsfor the tawdry, violent giallofilms have the familiar hallmarksof horror sound tracksslashingstrings a la Psycho, the harrow-ing church organ featured incountless creature featuresbutMorricone marvelously extendsthat tradition, adding atonalstring arrangements, lurchingrhythms, wordless female vocals,and splattery electric keyboards.

    These pieces were designed fora specific purposeto creep outa moviegoer, usuallybut manyof them succeed in their ownright thanks to this experimentalinstrumentation. Astratto 3,from Veruschka (Poesia di unacontinued on page 36

    CHICAGO READER | DECEMBER 16, 2005 | SECTION ONE 35

    Veruschka (Poesia di una Donna)

  • Music

    Donna), a film about the 60sfashion model, mixes faux-ethnicpercussion, woozy wordlessvocals, and damped marimbamelodies; on Ric Happening,sleepy koto notes and haggardbamboo-flute toots drift overblocky percussion; and onRapimento in Campo Apertoan almost comic-sounding Jewsharp bounces over sinister, saw-ing strings, but instead of easingthe tension it seems to addanother level of madness andfury. On Memento, snippets ofa romantic orchestral workseemingly played through a

    cheap speaker are layered overdissonant string arrangements,and the effect of them fading inand out of the mix is downrightnightmarish.

    There are a few sweetermoments, but they rarely work ina straightfoward manner.Ricreazione Divertita morphsfrom a delicate music-box melodylimned by a lyric violin to a snip-pet of a woman singing a cappel-la to some 60s-style dance-pop;less than two minutes in you get astately string procession alternat-ing with a stiff voice-and-drummarching rhythm, then a repriseof the a cappella section. Ninna

    Nanna per Adulteri features agorgeous wordless female vocalfloating amid lean but prettystrings and sparse glockenspiel,but its singsong repetition beginsto sound ominous over time.

    After a dozen spins Im stillstruck by the originality anddynamic sound of the comp as awhole. Bishops an odd but effec-tive curator: he doesnt adhere toany chronological or stylisticorganizational model; instead hesequences the material in theway that flows most seamlessly,and its as if hes created a newsound track for the greatestmovie ever made. v

    36 CHICAGO READER | DECEMBER 16, 2005 | SECTION ONE

    continued from page 35

  • CHICAGO READER | DECEMBER 16, 2005 | SECTION ONE 37

    Theater

    By Kerry Reid

    I f nothing else, you have toadmire Dessa Rose for the risksit takes. Composer StephenFlaherty and librettist LynnAhrens have adapted an unspar-ing 1986 novel by Sherley AnneWilliams, who weaves togetherthe stories of two real-life peoplefrom the antebellum south, one apregnant slave, the other an aban-doned wife. This is hardly the sortof musical popular now in ourculture, which favors thinly plot-ted jukebox revues a la MammaMia! and shows based on popularcomic movies or cult favorites likeHairspray, The Producers, andSpamalot. And Apple TreeTheatre has made a brave choiceby producing a script at the holi-days that deals with rape, torture,murder, and all the other atroci-ties of the peculiar institution.

    For her novel, Williams drew onthe story of a female slave inKentucky who in 1829 was sen-tenced to be hanged for leading anuprising on a coffle, a chain gang

    of slaves headed to market, butwas spared until she could deliverher babya valuable asset, ofcourse. Williams imagines thatthis woman escaped and met awhite woman who turned herNorth Carolina farm into a sanc-tuary for runaway slaves in 1830,after her husband left her. Thenovelist not only indicts slavery(duh) but looks unblinkingly atthe roots of Americas unease withinterracial romance and at whitewriters tendency to speak for theirblack subjects. Like the novel, themusical includes a smug whitejournalist, Adam Nehemiah, whoswriting a book on slave rebellionsand tries to make the imprisonedDessa Rose talk by implying thather story will be forgotten unlessshe cooperates.

    Perhaps bloody tales are goodfor sales, as Nehemiah says. Butsomething of the novels waspish-ness is lost in translation to thestage even though Ahrens and

    Slavery, the MusicalApple Tree tries to illuminate the peculiar institution in Dessa Rose.

    DESSA ROSE APPLE TREE THEATRE

    Dessa Rose

    MIC

    HA

    EL B

    ROSI

    L OW

    continued on page 38