Friday, 30 June 2017

CrimeWaves: part 7

Title: La morte vestita di dollari (Dog eat dog aka When strangers meet)
Year: 1964
Composer: Carlo Savina

A story about three robbers received a score by Carlo Savina which bounces between two styles both brilliantly suitable for a crime flick. Jazzy swing cues represent the nightlife and alternate with more sinister moods for moments of action or suspense that take up most of the album’s duration. Sprinkled in between are also some other musical styles like classically inspired source music, religious organ playing and loungy sleaze for a restaurant setting. With such an array of contrasting styles you might think that the score might sound too disjointed. However both the album presentation and the bonus cues offer a great listening experience in which each cue flows beautifully into next one creating a cohesive narrative.

The album begins with a laid-back swing piece Swing frenetico with a walking bass backing, not nearly as frantic as the title might suggest but a great little opening. It is interrupted quickly though with Stasi which presents the score’s most prominent main motif, descending piano triplets with ominous piercing or stabbing string and piano chords in between. These stabbing chords also open Ritmi di latta which then takes a complete 100 degree turn into a fast, cheeky swing piece with a good sense of fun in the performance and solos for guitars, piano, percussion and vibraphone. Other jazzy melodies are heard in a honky-tonk/cabaret fashion in the pair of cues Piano and Piano src. The album ends with three Swing numbers that reprise the opening track’s melody and close the circle beautifully with just the swing beat remaining to play in the emptiness.

Atmosfera morbida has the descending notes of the suspense motif spaced much more sparsely for buzzing keyboards and in much slower tempo. However eventually the track develops from its sinister origins into a loungy jazz piece for muted trumpet and soft, nocturnal backing. Morte di un ladro offers other variations of the suspense motif extending it into a more long-lined melody, followed by Il dramma with a more straight-forward and aggressive version of the motif. Probably the best and fullest version of the motif is In giallo where it is played ultimately with a piercing solo saxophone before more variations provided by the bass clarinet appear.

The first real action cue on the album is Caccia spietata with brutal percussion section and strangely abstract string harmonies playing the tuning harmonies of a violin. The madness is combined to those icy cold piano chords that are often heard along with the suspense motif. The accelerating rhythm surely makes the listener’s heart race. There is a piano action motif in Agguato ed assassinio but unfortunately it doesn’t last that long but turns back to suspense as soon as possible. That motif is reprised in tracks 18, 19, 31 & 32.

Source cues include a classical pastiche Concerto romantico which is a great theme complete with a passionate piano solo taking inspiration from classical composers of the romantic era. Unfortunately it isn’t heard again if you don’t count a variation in the climatic track Sospensione which ends the original album with a dramatic bang. There are a couple of pieces for solo organ (6, 26, 27) that are religious in nature but not overly so, rather just peaceful breather cues among the suspenseful pieces. The last one manages to make me smile with its quotation of a certain well-known organ piece. Grottesco sounds exactly what the title says, a morbid waltz for comical wah-wah trumpet and solo violin over strange, atonal harmonies that lead to more variations of the suspense motif. Incerto candore opens with a solo flute that is both jazzy and oddly sinister before a gorgeous melody for a restaurant scene appears and concludes with a touch of sassy sax. The melody is heard again briefly in Candore. As with many film scores of the era there is also time for some experimental material and Ambient is this album’s version of that. It consists purely of electronic sound effects and signal noise which is absolutely unlistenable and might break your eardrums if you’re listening to it with headphones.

As you can see from my star rating, the original album clearly had all the highlights but nevertheless it was nice to have the extras because the score is relatively short. The short duration of the cues and the lack of an identifiable main theme might also alienate some listeners. But for Savina fans this is a must buy because there are touches of his unmistakable style especially in the suspense scoring, however the jazzy cues sound really fresh even by his standards. The complaint I have with the Kronos Records release is once again that the album tracks don’t match the written tracklist. The actual tracks heard on the album are on an alphabetical order like in my written tracklist below and their original places in the ( )s. A nice little score nevertheless.

Rating: ****

1. Swing frenetico (01:19) *****
2. Stasi (01:07) *****
3. Concerto romantico (01:29) *****
4. Ritmi di latta (02:29) *****
5. Atmosfera morbida (02:17) *****
6. Suona un organo (01:48) ****
7. Morte di un ladro (02:51) ***
8. Il dramma (01:01) *****
9. Caccia spietata (02:57) *****
10. Grottesco (01:54) *****
11. Delitto (01:00) ***
12. Incerto candore (02:04) *****
13. Agguato ed assassinio (01:15) ****
14. Atmosfera sospesa (01:07) ****
15. In giallo (02:02) *****
16. Ritratto di signora (01:28) ****
17. Sospensione (00:54) *****

18. (20.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 3 (Agguato) (01:10) ****
19. (21.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 4 (Agguato ed assassinio - lungo) (01:50) ***
20. (33.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 16 (Ambient) (02:57) *
21. (19.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 2 (Annuncio) (00:27) ***
22. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 5 (Candore) (00:28) ****
23. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 6 (Consquenze) (01:05) ****
24. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 7 (Drammatico 1) (00:11) **
25. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 8 (Drammatico 2) (00:43) ****
26. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 9 (Organo) (00:32) ****
27. (18.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 1 (Organo) (02:00) *****
28. (27.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 10 (Piano) (00:27) ****
29. (28.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 11 (Piano src) (00:41) *****
30. (29.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 12 (Seduzione) (00:15) ****
31. (30.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 13 (Suspense 1) (00:50) ***
32. (31.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 14 (Suspense 2) (01:49) ***
33. (32.) La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 15 (Suspense 3) (00:37) **
34. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 17 (Swing 1) (00:16) ****
35. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 18 (Swing 2) (00:26) *****
36. La morte vestita di dollari - Seq. 19 (Swing 3) (00:52) ***

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