This is a score that has always intrigued me; I was aware of it but had never heard anything from it or indeed seen any clips from the movie. When Digitmovies announced its release a buzz went around all the discussion boards and soundtrack web sites. So another Nicolai to add to ones collection, and one that has been anticipated and hyped considerably. I however do have certain reservations about the score, ok they are not all bad, and before you read on remember that a review is a personal opinion of the reviewer who’s tastes and perceptions maybe completely different from yours. The CD opens with the central theme from the movie, which is a very pleasant and easygoing affair Nicolai employing many of the musical trademarks that we associate with Italian crime, thriller and Giallo movies. Harpsichord introduces the theme which itself acts as a support to a laid back flute solo percussion is added to the mix as we hear a, dare I say typical sounding style of theme that could so easily be Morricone, Micalizzi or even Ferrio. The percussion is subtle and unobtrusive and harpsichord embellishes this further to create a pleasing backing to a enjoyable but a fairly unmemorable theme that is taken up by the string section to give it its full working along with piano and more pronounced punctuation form harpsichord. Track 2 is a mainly un musical affair, short stabs of notation being the substance and mainstay of the cue, not saying that this is an awful track or one that is un listenable, because that is not so, but its just a track that is again so typical of Italian scoring and the Italian film music sound, snippets of piano, underlined with menacing but kind of quiet and creepy strings open the composition, punctuated by one note stabs or interjections on harpsichord, moaning muted trumpet is added every so often, and random bass guitar sound can be heard being dropped in here and there for effect. Yes this is a highly atmospheric piece that I am sure works very well within the context of the movie, but as a stand alone listening experience it leaves one a little non plus. But this is sometimes the problem with film music CD reviews, do we judge it or review as a score with the movie or as a CD listening experience away from the images it was intended to support and enhance. For example a composer could write lots of themes upbeat tracks and great little tunes with amazing hooks, but would they fit the movie or sell the CD?
I am not in anyway saying that Nicolai has produced a bad or un-original work for this project, what I am stating is that it is not that different or removed from anything else he has written to be called remarkable or outstanding, and in certain cases a few of the tracks did begin to grind upon my hearing and become hard to get into. Tracks that are interesting however are cues numbers. 1,4,7,10,13,16 and 18 which all recall the main theme at some point and also include a pleasant secondary theme that raises its head at times during the proceedings. So a satisfying and fairly good work by the composer, but certainly not a blow you away brilliant or groundbreaking one.
Released in 1972, SI PUO FARE MOLTO CON SETTE DONNE is I suppose fairly typical of many scores for Italian movies from this period. It has a good mixture of strong and vibrant themes which contain dramatic, romantic and jazz influenced styles, the haunting melodies are clearly linked to what has become categorized as lounge music maybe even easy listening, however this is a film score that contains many differing styles within its running time and the significant thing is that the music is the work of Franco De Gemini, many of us connect him with being just a performer, which is totally incorrect, for one Franco De Gemini was never Just a performer he was an excellent musician who was flawless and polished in every performance he created and second, Franco was a Maestro in his own right a composer and an arranger of great talent. The music for me evokes the sound that was achieved by Armando Trovajoli on his wonderful SEVEN GOLDEN MEN score, Hammond organ grooves along at a heady pace backed by electric guitar and choir with jaunty sounding percussion laying down an infectious backing track that is impossible not to get hooked on. Then there are two versions of a delightful song, one in English performed by Melody, and the other in Italian vocals courtesy of M.Michelangeli, COS’E AMORE or WHAT IS THIS LOVE is a pleasant little ditty, very easy going and at times put me in mind of the Bergman’s SUGAR IN THE RAIN from STILETTO. We are also treated to instrumental versions of the song, which are performed in the main by the string section which is enhanced by light percussion and harpsichord flourishes supported by choir and punctuated by woodwind and not forgetting the masterful harmonica of De Gemini. Franco De Gemini has written a score that will certainly delight any connoisseur of Italian or Euro film scores as many of the musical trademarks from this genre of scores are present and are used more than effectively by De Gemini. I love the way in which he combines strings and harpsichord (shades of Morricone) and also the way he makes effective use of jazz compositions to create party moods and fast paced chase music complete with the distinct vocalising of Il Cantori Moderni, this I think is most prominent in track number 6, CHEOPS AND NEFERTITI. SI PUO FARE MOLTO CON 7 DONNE, was a fairly low budget crime caper with comedic and sexual undertones, the thriller made effective use of its Egyptian location and although maybe not the finest moment of Italian cinema was an entertaining romp. The soundtrack I am confident will be returned to many times after your first encounter with it, please check it out.
BEAT RECORDS. CDCR120.
THE CONJURING is set to thrill and scare the pants off cinema audiences this summer. The film tells the story of the Perron family, who are put through all sorts of mental and physical terrors by a dark and aggressive presence in their isolated farmhouse home in Harrisville, Rhode Island, USA. Things become so disturbing that the family enlist the aid of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are recognized and respected paranormal investigators to try and help them find out what the presence is and what it is doing in their home and more to the point why is it making their lives a living hell. The film which is a terrifying and fraught viewing experience is based upon true life events, which when one thinks about it makes the jumps, bumps and shocks unfolding on screen become even more frightening because this is something that actually took place in the 1970’s.The Warrens came to the public eye because of their involvement with THE AMITYVILLE case, which of course became the huge cinema success THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and spawned a sequel or two in later years. But THE CONJURING tells us a story that up until recently was kept a guarded secret by the Warren’s. The music is by Joseph Bishara, who has built a reputation for himself as a composer who more or less specializes in films that have the scare or gore factor. His score for THE CONJURING marks a further collaboration with Director James Wan and underlines perfectly the malevolent happenings within the films storyline and enhances and embellishes the traumatic and hostile scenes on screen. Written for a 60 plus orchestra, the majority of which is made up of strings, but also includes a small woodwind section and a scattering of brass with added performances from piano and harp, plus there is also support from a small choir and synthetic elements with the inclusion of the amazing solo voice performance of Avant-Garde music marvel, Diamanda Galas in parts. Bishara’s music is not shall we say a pleasant listening experience, but it is not supposed to be given the subject matter it has been created for. It is however an inventive and above all original sounding work that I would add should not be listened to in the dark nor through headphones and probably not alone. Or if you are that way inclined maybe you should try it in the dark with headphones when everyone is out and wait for the men in white coats to come and get you? The score is a dark, taught and brooding one, full of tormented, and sinewy sounds that are at times overpowered by shocking and jarring stabs that come from both brass and strings with synthetic assistance, it is in my opinion an unearthly, unsettling work that posses the ability to scare on its own without any images whatsoever. Bishara’s score not only underlines and punctuates this vexing story but succeeds in giving it even more emotional depth and creates numerous atmospheric nuances that assist the movie greatly.
In fact the only respite within the score that gives the listener some sort of melodic interlude or a breather from the fraught-ness is THE FAMILY THEME which comes at the end of the disc and is composed by Mark Isham. But even this composition contains some dark sounding undertones within its make up as it begins with an aire of uncertainty but builds gradually until it concludes with a sound that is milder, pleasant, settled and purveys a feeling that is hopeful. Isham’s brief theme on the score is worlds away from the style employed by Joseph Bishara, as the main score is a modern and somewhat complex sounding musical exercise which borders on the experimental, a fusion of music and also musical sounds which are themselves underlined or interspersed with brash and crashing crescendos that create unease and a sense of urgency, but let us just say it is an exercise that works marvellously within the context of the movie, it brings to the story another echelon of horror a more heightened stage of terror and in fact a more intense and frenzied feeling of fear. The score is filled to overflowing with foreboding and dread, and is a nerve jangling, gut wrenching rollercoaster ride for any listener. As I have said the music is at times complex and it oozes a virulent persona which is hard to describe, in fact the best way in which to describe the score as a whole is to say that it is formidable, at times dissonant and certainly an unrelenting musical assault upon ones nerves and senses. Wonderfully orchestrated meticulously performed and written by a composer that is most certainly talented, highly original and ingenious. THE CONJURING is a well thought out and well made horror film, it draws from past movies within the genre but never becomes clichéd or predictable and the score too manages to break new ground in an area of music and sound design that is constantly evolving. Recommended.
LA LA LAND RECORDS (USA) LLCD1265