PUPPET ON A CHAIN.

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The film Puppet On A Chain received its theatrical release in Great Britain during the latter part of summer 1970. The movie unfortunately did not do that well at the box office, and thus a planned album release of the soundtrack from the film was cancelled. Now some 31 years on, the score has turned up on CD and LP, which for many collectors of film music will be a welcome sight. Composer Piero Piccioni, has over the past three decades been involved with literally hundreds of film soundtracks, both for the Italian market and also outside of his native country. Maestro Piccioni has written music for a wide variety of films, which have included westerns, thrillers, comedies, horror etc etc etc.

Puppet On A Chain was a British production, that boasted an international cast that had a storyline set amongst the dangerous and seedy underworld elements that frequented the city of Amsterdam. Piccioni,s up beat almost bombastic sounding score was well suited to the frenzied and unrelenting action of the movie, and the composer let loose an array of styles and sounds to compliment and underline the non stop onslaught of activity that unfolded upon the screen. Highly dramatic near symphonic passages are fused with Hammond organ compositions and electric guitar riffs, that in turn are swept along by a a big band style that struts its way throughout the score creating a listening experience that must not to be missed. The work also includes some quieter interludes, as in track 14 ‘The Love Theme’. But for the majority of its duration the score is beaty and up tempo, an amalgamation of the dramatic and the pop orientated sounds of Lounge music. Thick and heavy sounding brass is supported and embellished by Piccioni,s utilisation of percussion, bass guitar and brushed or lightly struck cymbals, on cues such as ‘Escape’ track 6. This formula is repeated on track 7, ‘Night Club’, but this time Piccioni adds a somewhat cheeky Hammond organ to the proceedings, that tweeks its way in and out of the piece, weaving a slightly comical thread throughout the cue.
Every cue contains a passage or a sound that will be of interest to someone. There is also certainly no doubt at all that the score has stood the test of time, as it would riot be out of place in some of today’s spy thrillers, The CD is presented excellently, and contains a booklet which comprises of eight pages, that include photographs and information both from the movie and of the composer. For Italian film music aficionados this release is an essential and important purchase, and one that I recommend without reservation. For collectors that have yet to experience the powerful and original compositions of Piero Piccioni, this CD, I am sure will be a perfect introduction to the colours, sounds and varying styles that are the work of Maestro Piccioni.PUPPET ON A CHAIN.

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HITCHCOCK

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Composer Danny Elfman never ceases to please and also amaze me. He has created some of the most memorable and iconic sounding film scores over a period of some twenty years or so. Although Elfman has an undeniable style and sound all of his own, he never it seems likes to rest on his laurels or utilize that style to the extent of it becoming boring or tired, he somehow seems to re-invent his style and although we are aware that this is Danny Elfman we also hear new and refreshing nuances and an energy and vitality that is ever present within each and ever work he produces for the world of motion pictures. The composer has in recent months been at his busiest and dare I say it has also been at his most creative and innovative. One of his recent assignments is HITCHCOCK, I suppose it would have been something of an easy task for the composer to fill the score for this movie with Hermannesque sounding passages or arrangements of themes and compositions from the films of the Master of the macabre, He has however I am pleased to say to a certain extent resisted this, I say to a certain extent because there are within the score some obvious nods of acknowledgement to the great Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, but these are interwoven into the frame work of  Elfman,s soundtrack and are not direct or deliberate arrangements of any of the composers music for Hitchcock movies, instead the style of Hermann is emphasised by Elfman and these interludes are complimented by the ever present quirky but also original sound that is created by Elfman which is a sound that has become familiar to cinema goers and soundtrack collectors all over the globe.  HITCHCOCK is a score that is in many ways poignant and emotive and also at times has a melancholic sound about it, at other times it is full of comedic life and mischief, plus there are sombre and darker sounding moments which seem to hold the work together and act as an underlying foundation to Elfman’s score. All of these elements are brought together and like a big patchwork quilt are woven together by the composer to create a sound that is rich and pleasing, original and haunting and entertaining in every sense of the word. Elfman as I have already said has had a busy 2011/12, and has written the soundtracks for some of the past 12 months more interesting movies, FRANKENWEENIE for example which is a darkly grotesque but at the same time comedic and melancholy sounding score, that harkens back to the days of the old black and white Universal horror classics.

 

He was also responsible for scoring the return of Will Smith in the ever popular Men in Black series MIB 3 and of course there are the scores for SILVER LININGS and DARK SHADOWS all of which have had the unmistakable musical fingerprint of Elfman placed upon them but each of them contain their own identity and originality. Personally for me HITCHCOCK is the favourite Elfman out of all the titles I have mentioned, simply because it is so well written and I would recommend this to any collector of film music and certainly ask for collectors not yet converted to Elf-ism, to savour it and maybe after doing so they too will also become followers of this composer, to say that this score is an example of the composer coming of age would I think be wrong or even an understatement, because Danny Elfman has certainly earned his film music wings, this is a score that is sophisticated and meticulously crafted and one that I am certain will raise awareness even more of the talent of this composer.

CUGINI CARNALI.

 

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The movie CUGINI CARNALI was released in 1974, produced by movie mogul Carlo Ponti and directed by Sergio Martino, the picture which easily falls into the category of being one of the sex-adelic movies that were produced in Italy and became so popular during the 1970s though to the mid 1980s. It combines both erotic and sensual scenario’s with comedic interludes and these are cleverly and expertly fused together to create a movie that is both amusing and dramatic.
The film contains a musical score that is both infectious and haunting which was written by the lesser known but certainly not lacking in talent composer Claudio Mattino. The music is very reminiscent of the styles that were employed by the likes of Morricone, Cipriani, Micalizzi and also Pisano and Marchetti before the 1970s and also throughout that decade.
Mattino fuses with ease strings and harpsichord to achieve a sound that is delightfully mesmerising but at the same time he manages to interweave numerous other musical components, i.e. piano, percussion, backing vocals and guitar into the work giving it at times an upbeat tempo that has an almost poppy sound to it. The sound or style created is most certainly contagious. Mattino employs pleasant and very laid back lounge sounding musical passages that make this score not only an easy listening experience but also a pleasurable one. The use of wordless female vocals dominant the work and these come courtesy of the first lady of Italian film music, Edda Dell Orso who’s elegant and flawless vocalising generates an ambience and atmosphere that is sensual, calming and completely captivating. The soundtrack was originally released back in 1974 on an RCA long playing record; the tracks from this are represented on this release from cue number one through to cue thirteen. Then thanks to GDM and BEAT we are treated to a number of previously unreleased compositions which commence at track number 14 and play through till track number 24. These include a number of alternate takes on cues that have been touched upon before in the running order.
The score as I have previously stated is akin to the style of a number of Italian Maestro that dominated Italian film music during the 1960,s through to the mid to late 1980,s and what I really love about this release and the music it contains is it does not at any time require the listener to utilize the track forward button as every single cue is a gem, this is a priceless and entertaining soundtrack and one that should really be in every discerning film music collectors possession. It is also a release that will be replayed again and again, and on each outing the listener will find something fresh and enjoyable. Highly recommended.

THE ARTIST.

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Writing music for film is I think probably a hard task; all the timings have to be just so and the music obviously has to enhance the movie without being overpowering. So scoring a silent movie must be even more difficult. I say this because of the amount of music that will be required. After all, music in a silent movie has to do more than enhance, it has to be part of the dialogue (that is not there) or it becomes the dialogue in effect. It is the romance, the comedy and also it is the timing and the punctuation for the film up on the screen. THE ARTIST is taking the cinema-going world by storm, it is a black and white silent movie made in France which has received many nominations and also lifted a few major prizes in this the Awards season for movies released in 2011. The musical score is by gifted French composer Ludovic Bource whose score is, in one word, amazing – add to that, delightful, exciting and emotive and you have the perfect ingredients for a great film score. It is an almost luxurious sounding work which harkens back to the days when a full orchestra would be seated in the pit playing the musical accompaniment to many a silent classic. Flickering images and dramatic music made for a great time in the theatres way back then. Bource has created a soundtrack that although almost continuous is not in any way overbearing or intrusive, in fact you sit and watch the movie and are really not that conscious of the music because this talented composer has managed to score the film in a way that the music is, or could be, another actor playing out their part to the watching audience. There is a particularly lovely theme included which is track number nine, “Comme una Rose Larmes – solo piano picks out a plaintive and delicately emotive theme which is hauntingly beautiful with touches of melancholy. I was particularly impressed with the opening track of the movie. “Russia

1927”, a near four minute cue full of drama and energy, played at the opening of the movie. The scene is set in a theatre where a movie is being screened, full orchestra is seen performing the music as the film is shown to the delight of the audience, Bource manages to cram many types and styles of music into this four minutes but it just flows and works so well. It is a stylish and entertaining composition, brass and strings being the main stay of the piece as the on-screen hero escapes the clutches of a dastardly and evil villain with the help of his fearless and faithful dog and accompanied by his leading lady.
It really is a wonderful marriage of image and music. Track five is also a highlight for me, “Silent Rumble” is text book film scoring from a bygone age, dramatic, fast paced and also full of vigour. The composer has also written some wonderful melodic material for the movie and track six “1929”, is an example of such writing. Although short lived it is an impressive and lingering melody, performed foremost by woodwind which are enhanced by subtle use of strings and more woods, a pleasing theme which is far too brief. This is an excellent score and I for one do hope that Bource will soon be stepping up to collect more awards, The BAFTA maybe and then the Oscar. Bravo Maestro Bource. Chaque note est le lieu avec soin et amour, et la musique est le cœur de L‘ARTISTE.