Friday, 28 October 2016

Giallo fever: part 6

Title: Giornata nera per l’ariete (The fifth cord)
Year: 1971
Composer: Ennio Morricone

1971 was Morricone’s greatest year in film music. He also wrote a score for this rather unknown giallo which is no classic by any means but for some reason I've always loved this score ever since I heard the first time. It has an abundant number of great vocal moments and the whole score feels like a musical depiction of a nightmare.

Straight from the opening track Morricone introduces the dreamy quality which surrounds the film’s music. Giornata nera per l’ariete is the main theme, a moody melody with unconventional harmonies and la-la voice of Edda dell’Orso. It’s simultaneously eerily beautiful yet terrifying and the several performances start to get under the listener’s skin after a while. La voce bella turns the melody into a musicbox theme with a high vocal track that is soon joined by hair-raising string clusters. The end of the track is purely abstract descending string lines which form also the basis for the cue Resa. Voce has both the musicbox version and first hints at faster action music for pounding percussion and chaotic strings. By far the most interesting version of the theme is heard in track 17 where the harmonies seem completely random and like they were about to fall apart at any moment and the only thing gluing them together is Edda’s pristine voice.

The album starts with a few longer suspense tracks. Punte d’ago begins with Hitchcockian string writing (Psycho’s shower scene in particular) which turns to uneasiness during the second half. Severamente utilizes Edda’s vocals in a more sinister way on top of high strings and steadily beating percussion section. The end loses the voice and replaces it with buzzing electronic effects. Paura e aggressione delves further into madness with a strange bouncy feel with yet another Edda style in a form of fearful breathing. The title translates to ‘Fear and aggression’ and Morricone has found an excellent way of representing them both during this scene. The second part features abstract writing for many kinds of tinkling instruments.

The chaos in unleashed in Trafelato which is the most aggressive track on the album. It has a pounding drum base that has absolutely horrifying string and piano writing and distorted electronic guitars on top which create a swirling tornado of fear. The shock radiates nerve impulses straight down my spine and gut; it’s just that powerful in its madness. It is also chosen to be the bookend to the album and that version could actually be even more shocking and surely leaves the listener with no happy ending or satisfying resolution.

After the few tracks, which you probably can’t pay much attention to because you’re still recovering from Trafelato, we’re introduced to some source music. Giocoso, giocoso is actually the main title track and is a very easygoing keyboard melody with mellow grooves. II ripresa is a strange little menacing piece in the middle with a fast pace. The second mellow source track is Voce seconda which features Edda’s scat singing skills with sleazy slow dance backing. It flows smoothly to another dreamy version of the main theme. Un organo suona is the last source track, an unexpected doomsday chorale for a giant church organ.

Giornata nera per l’ariete is an underrated effort even among Morricone fans. However its suspense writing is highly varied and the melodies are intriguing. Not to mention all the different vocal solos which make the album almost feel like an Edda concert. This score isn’t for everyone but it’s another prove of Maestro Morricone’s talent and unique sense of cinematic music making.

Rating: *****

1. Giornata nera per l'ariete (02:35) *****
2. Punte d'ago (03:04) ****
3. Severamente (05:17) *****
4. Paura e aggressione (05:40) ****
5. Giornata nera per l'ariete (03:15) *****
6. La voce bella (03:34) *****
7. Voce (02:00) *****
8. Resa (02:19) ****
9. Trafelato (02:29) *****
10. Giornata nera (01:26) ****
11. Ripresa (02:50) ***
12. Giocoso, gioioso (03:23) *****
13. II ripresa (00:48) *****
14. Voce seconda (02:34) *****
15. Giornata nera (01:31) *****
16. Un organo suona (01:07) *****
17. Giornata nera per l'ariete (03:38) *****
18. Giornata nera (01:11) ****
19. La voce bella (01:00) *****
20. Giornata nera (01:35) *****
21. Giornata nera per l'ariete (01:45) *****
22. Paura e aggressione (Versione breve) (01:52) *****
23. La voce bella (02:02) *****
24. Trafelato (Versione breve) (01:12) *****

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