Ennio Morricone – Escalation

I spent yesterday in London touring Universities but managed to slip away long enough to nip to Berwick street and have a root through the basement of Sister Ray. I could, had I had the money, spent £1000 and still left there feeling there were just a couple more albums I could have picked up, but I don’t have that sort of money so I had to be picky. My first choice, from what was quite a large Morricone section, was the soundtrack to the 1968 film Escalation. It’s a re-release from Dagored and this one is one of the yellow clear vinyl versions limited to 500 copies. As you can see in the picture below:

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Dagored have this to say:

In 1968 the Maestro Morricone was at the height of his career scoring Sergio Leone’s classic “Once Upon a Time in the West”. For the soundtrack of Roberto Faenza’s cult debut movie ESCALATION, set in swinging London, 1968, Morricone teams up with fellow composer Bruno Nicolai and the vocalizations of Alessandro Alessandroni’s “Cantori Moderni”, making this one of his least minimal soundtracks.

Containing the legendary tune DIES IRAE PSICHEDELICO , this is one of the most essential Morricone soundtracks of all- time.

It’s certainly a beautiful object and though I haven’t seen the film, but will, I expect it to be really rather odd based on the soundtrack, which is equally beautiful and bonkers.

Here, courtesy of youtube, are a few of the tracks from it:

Album Tracklist:

Escalation
Dies Irae Psichedelico
Collage N. 1
Luca’s Sound
Senza Respiro
Luca
Casa Londra
Matrimonio
Collage N. 2
Carillon Erotico
Primo Rito
Secondo Rito
Funerale Nero

The soundtrack has all of the classic Moriccone traits, from harpsichord to wordless vocals (and some with words, shouty mad words, in Italian, probabaly), and they  work brilliantly.  With films this old it’s often possible to stream them for free online but I haven’t found anything yet, not even a clip, so I may have to try and find a dvd of it from somewhere.

I also nipped across the road to Reckless Records, which is, for the most part, used vinyl, but after a brief flick through the racks I didn’t see anything that I really fancied. There may have been a few things but it was organised in such a way that I couldn’t easily go to the sections I wanted.

Next time i’m in the area I’ll have to give it a little more time.

SPASMO!

The final record I picked up from the Record Fair at the Custard Factory on Saturday was the re-released soundtrack to the 1974 film, ‘Spasmo’ directed by Umberto Lenzi. There were two runs of 500 done for Record Store Day 2015, this electric blue LP with “The Mouth” cover art and a clear blue LP with “The Hand” cover art.

My copy is numbered 339 as you can see from the front cover.IMG_2482

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And what a front cover it is. Just a little unnerving. Dagored have a number of great re-releases that you can find on their site here: http://www.dagored-records.com/

The synopsis of the film from IMDB is:  Christian (Robert Hoffman) and his girlfriend are taking a walk on a deserted beach when they discover a woman’s body. A closer look proves that she’s alive. The next day Christian meets her again at a yacht party and they fall in love. Later at a nearby motel, something weird happens as they prepare to go to bed together: An intruder breaks in and starts beating Christian who accidentally shoots him with his own gun. A few hours later they find out that the corpse is missing and a series of weird incidents takes place.

Which is not a great synopsis to be fair, but, interestingly, the tagline for the film was:  Beyond “Psycho” SPASMO!

Spasmo is a film which has a rather weird, disorienting feel to it and this is reflected in Morricone’s score, consisting of a variation on three themes. The music Morricone composed for this odd film is somewhat disturbing and disorientating, as is the film itself and his use of unusual instrumentation adds to the overall weirdness.

There are some Morricone trademarks included, such as in the opening piece, Bambole, where we have wordless vocals, which always work a treat. At this point though, delightful though it is, if somewhat melancholy, there is no indication of where the soundtrack is going. Even in lighter moments there seems to be an underlying feeling that something isn’t quite right and the soundtrack does develop into a really rather difficult listening experience, which may well be why I love it so much.

Tracklist

A1 Bambole
A2 Spasmo
A3 Stress Infinito
A4 Bambole (#2)
A5 Spasmo (#2)
A6 Stress Infinito (#2)
B1 Bambole (#3)
B2 Spasmo (#3)
B3 Stress Infinito (#3)
B4 Bambole (#4)
B5 Spasmo (#4)
B6 Stress Infinito (#4)
B7 Bambole (#5)

How could I not love it really? It’s Morricone for a start, but it’s a limited run, in transparent coloured 180g vinyl with a freaky cover and a man being run over by a car on the back, It ticks all the boxes for me, just look at it:

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I covet it and I already own it! It’s a beautiful thing. If you care to have a listen, then please do, it’s probably not what you might expect:

And as a special treat for those with about 90 minutes to spare, here is the whole film, dubbed into English, but still the whole film. It’s over 40 years old now and is of it’s time, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, especially with such a great soundtrack: