Thursday, 20 October 2016

The animal trilogy: part 3

Title: Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (Four flies on grey velvet)
Year: 1971
Composer: Ennio Morricone

Quattro mosche di velluto grigio is the last collaboration between Ennio Morricone and Dario Argento before the 25-year break (next time they would work together was with 1996’s The Strendahl Syndrome). Morricone went on scoring more giallo films with other directors and Argento soon found his most frequent collaborator, the rock band Goblin. However this score is a precursor to what the director’s future musical choices would reflect as Morricone wrote a varied score with influences all the way from Baroque to rock’n’roll.

The opening track introduces the angry rock stylings written for the cleverly shot title sequence. It features both a screaming lead vocalist and sick organ solos. Luckily Goblin’s contributions for Argento’s next films would show how well rock music could be implemented into a film score. Morricone’s attribution here is admirable but falls a bit short.

What doesn’t fall short though is the following Come un madrigale which is almost as emotional as the opening theme to Il gatto a nove code. The theme twinkles down so elegantly among the strong choral part while the la-las add some weirdness to the mix. The concluding organ solo brings the nighttime imagery to a peaceful close.

Rest of the score is assembled in long suites which vary in style and moods vividly even within a single cue. The first one has by far the most interesting cocktail. It opens with a gospel choir singing “Hallelujah!” which soon changes to sparsely floating harp notes. They continue straight to a wonderful source music number with vocals by Edda dell’Orso which is followed first by an eerie carnival merry-go-round tune and then some rock inspired dance music. The second suite offers some genuinely uneasy suspense music complete with sighing voices, rambling piano notes and gut-wrenching, swirling strings. The longest suite reprises the madrigal theme in a horror setting which is a truly wonderful addition. The rest of the track tries to recreate the spooky feeling of the previous score with creepy instrumental stabs but doesn’t quite get there. The 6th track has a sigh of relief with a few notes from the main theme that soon turn back to the suspense. The final track reprises the opening track’s band rehearsals with a slightly more optimistic tune.

While having to balance so different styles of music, the suites unfortunately can feel somewhat disjointed. Although at the same time, this score is easily the most varied in the entire trilogy. The core material is brilliant as usual but overall this score isn’t as cohesive as the previous entries and therefore is the weakest of the three scores.

Rating: ****

1. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (titoli) (03:14) ****
2. Come un madrigale (03:36) *****
3. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (05:49) ****
4. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (04:36) *****
5. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (08:48) ****
6. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (02:13) ****
7. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (02:12) ****

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