Back in 2006, die Schactel released Azioni [M], a 3-disc set of previously unreleased 1967-1969 recordings by Gruppo di improvvisazione nuova consonanza / aka Nuova Consonanza, an improvisational group of which Ennio Morricone was a member. Much of what erupted from the organized chaos were hauntingly bizarre sounds that featured a narrow realm of instruments, and objects which could alter or damage traditional sounds from guitars, piano, trumpet, and drums. From this short period of intense experimentation Morricone arguably discovered he could be as weird and dissonant as he wanted in his film music.
The composer was already comfortable writing melodic themes for westerns, comedies, romances, crime films, and gialli, but his comfort and confidence in taking one of his own beautiful creations and tearing it to pieces stemmed from his association with Nuova Consonanza, and Cometa’s new CD unearths additional unreleased music for fans still hungry for Morricone’s most extreme non-film experiments.
Recorded in 1971, the 12 cues in Eroina (heroin) vary between 2-6 minutes, but they form a wonderful journey through gnashing sounds and rock beats, twangs, splintering guitar strings, wailing voices, reverb, shrill feedback, and sputtering brass mouthpieces. It’s a pity the cues aren’t in stereo, but even in mono, the flow between shape-shifting moods, grinding textures, and dialogue between warped tones is hypnotic.
Named for states of conflict and specific drugs, the album begins with “Warum,” a short cue that starts quietly but snaps to life with a rock beat, while “Raptus” is waves of rage between thickening percussion and bass tones. If you tried to crawl into an acoustic guitar and feel your way around the wood and strings by knocking and grabbing whatever comes within your grasp, you’d get the beginning of “Aghi,” whereas “Haschich” is a more sultry (and trippy) exploration between smooth sounds – vibes, low electric guitar, brushed drums – and distant wailing through ethnic woodwinds.
“Eroina” is a blend of scraping, wooden rattling, and Asian flute tones seemingly chased by piano wire hits and broad strokes; and “Metedrina” is generally propelled by a steady rock groove over which watery, wooden, and metallic sounds twang and intermesh to create a loose South Asian sound in spite of recurring ‘sacred’ organ chords.
The remaining cues are much shorter and make up the CD’s denouement, progressing through a haze of synthetic chords and feedback (“Oppio”); metallic sounds that wind-up and unspool over a pounding rock beat and wah-wah guitar; a return to more delicate acoustic, woodwind, and subdued electric elements in “Haschich #11” with vibes and woodwinds; and the rock march that’s ornamented with muted guitar twangs in “Danger.” The album closes with two cues: “Raptus #11” in which all the key instruments coalesce and pack in as many rumblings and dissonance before a sudden recession to muted trumpet; and “Orgasmo,” where Morricone borrows ideas from a prior NC recording (namely Private Sea of Dreams [M]) and layers groaning & puckering male sounds over a gentle elliptical rock beat.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan