Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Oh, the horror: part 2

Title: …e tu vivrai nel terrore! L’Aldilà (The beyond)
Year: 1981
Composer: Fabio Frizzi

Lucio Fulci’s The beyond has developed a cult status over the years and probably as zombie themed films and series have become more mainstream it might continue to attract more and more viewers. The score for the film was written by Fabio Frizzi who had already had several experiences of scoring zombie films in the past and had developed a recognizable style for those films. This time he composed a varied score suitable for the cityscape but also for the roaming herd of zombies in a form of massive choral writing.

Verso l’ignoto is a rather unsettling piece dominated by repeated a piano figure that unfortunately gets tiresome after a while. It slowly starts to lead the listener towards the dark atmosphere the rest of the score is made out of. Voci Dal Nulla introduces the most famous theme from the movie which is the one performed by a large choir with lyrics derived from the latin doomsday hymn Dies irae. It’s a simple melody where the basis is formed by slow moving chords with livelier soprano parts performed on top. The second reprise of the theme (track 6) skips the introductory synth choir and goes straight to the brutal vocal and orchestral battle with martial snare drum rhythm. The last reprise (track 8) is more similar to the first version though the string performance is extremely vivid and the choir is at its most powerful and diabolical mood (I’ve always thought that the choir sounds like a bunch of zombies singing, though I don’t know if that was the intention or if the singers are just having a bad day). It also includes a gorgeous interlude for just the piano and flute solo that is the album’s highlight moment for me. The theme gets an acapella version at the beginning of Sequenza coro e orchestra. The second part of the track shows some fully orchestral thriller like scoring with almost jazzy harmonies.

Suono aperto and Oltre soglia are both very urban sounding ques where the orchestra is joined by funky basslines and pop music inspired percussion section. The problem I have with both of the tracks is the same as with the opening track: that they only seem to have a short melodic motif that is repeated endlessly with only a little of instrumental variety. The reprise of Suono aperto is more orchestral and filled with lovely flute solos. Giro di blues is a source piece of sleazy lounge jazz. The last track is probably the most dated sounding track on the album but nevertheless it is really cheeky, fun piece with groovy rhythms and some really creative synth sounds that fit in perfectly to the urban atmosphere. And though this track loops the same melody heard in Oltre soglia again and again, this time it is varied enough to keep the listener’s interest.

I would have loved to give the score a higher rating but even though it’s flawlessly performed and the melodies are strong, it doesn’t manage to raise any emotions in me besides during the introduction and interlude of Voci dal nulla. The 1995 Beat records album has enough material and I actually think having more would actually hurt the listening experience. Overall it’s a nice combination of 1980s synth sounds with more traditional orchestral and choral writing even though it doesn’t work quite that well without the accompanying picture.

Rating: ***1/2

Title: Quella villa in fondo al parco (Ratman)
Year: 1988
Composer: Stefano Mainetti

Clearly the first score on this ‘twofer’ was the reason for my purchase but because the album has a second score, let’s review that one as well. This time we’re travelling further into the 80s with the score for a strangely translated film titled Quella villa in fondo al parco aka Ratman. The composer Stefano Mainetti has only a few released scores mostly from the 1980s though he has had projects well into the 2010s.

The bleak opening track Synodia begins with horrendous 1980s synth effects before developing into a decent menacing keyboard melody which is the score’s only returning thematic idea. It’s followed by Persequor which begins with nighttime scenery before turning back to unlistenable synths. Coniectrix follows in the same vain though this time the synth effects in the middle depict some creature moving around in the gutters which suits the English language title of the film. Egomet is the best track this far reprising the keyboard melody from the opening track with synth choir excerpts.

The following tracks unfortunately develop more towards the unlistenable territory. Vesaevus has some obnoxious ‘action’ writing that makes you want to turn off the CD player. Necator has the main theme but it too is ruined with sound effects. Esus reprises the main theme, the terrible synthetic action and the choral effects of Xuthus. Phitia is the most listenable track on the album, because it’s just a plain piano solo without any synth rendering. The melody hasn’t been heard anywhere else on the album but sounds surprisingly fresh after all the horror heard in the previous tracks.

This score is mostly very unpleasant to listen to because of the horrendous synth effects which represent some of the worst the 80s had to offer. It also lacks melodies and development I’m craving from a film score. I’m not familiar with Mainetti’s other film compositions but unfortunately after listening to this score I’m also not eager to find out more.

Rating: **

“…e tu vivrai nel terrore! L’Aldilà”
1. Verso l'ignoto (03:58) ***
2. Voci dal nulla (02:57) *****
3. Suono aperto (01:24) ***
4. Sequenza coro e orchestra (04:32) ****
5. Oltre la soglia (04:01) ***
6. Voci dal nulla (04:26) ****
7. Suono aperto (03:58) ****
8. Voci dal nulla (04:18) *****
9. Giro di blues (02:21) ***
10. Verso l'ignoto (03:22) ***
11. Sequenza ritmica e tema (04:23) ****

“Quella villa in fondo al parco”
12. Synodia (01:09) **
13. Persequor (02:00) **
14. Coniectrix (01:42) **
15. Egomet (01:26) ***
16. Temulenter (00:31) *
17. Vesaevus (02:49) *
18. Xuthus (00:41) **
19. Necator (01:44) **
20. Esus (03:19) **
21. Daemonicola (01:07) *
22. Phitia (02:16) ***

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