Monday, March 15, 2010
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Brilliant
Gabe staked us out a goldmine at Chasm Filler. There is a ton of crazy good stuff, and it's all over the freaking map. Everyone here should find plenty of music they like at this site. I spent the weekend with all kinds of sound from there: Alex Chilton's classic Like Flies on Sherbet, Big Black's Rich Man's 8 Track Tape, The Band's Music From Big Pink, Black Flag's My War, and of course those killer comps that Gabe highlighted.
One gem that I've been wondering about for a while is Alan Bishop's Ennio Morricone compilation, Crime and Dissonance. There's nothing like a guidebook to one of your musical heroes compiled by another of your musical heroes. Morricone is especially ripe for interesting collections, given the amount and breadth of his work . . . and from what I've heard so far, this is one killer comp.
Morricone is often cited as one of the greatest film music composers of all time, but I say we lose the "film music" part of the description and just call him one of the great composers of all time. I believe he stands with 20th century giants such as Ives, Cage, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Xenakis, Penderecki, Feldman, Gershwin, Ellington, etc. We know him best for his killer/kitschy spaghetti Western soundtracks, especially the "Theme to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". Any one of those soundtracks is a great starting place: my favorite is Once Upon a Time in the West. If that were all you heard from him, though, you would only have a small idea of his true genius.
There also was a two volume compilation that came out in the early 90's as part of Virgin's film music series. That one was a little more diverse, but still fairly even tempered, as far as Morricone's music goes. The collection that really piqued my interest was La paura secondo Ennio Morricone ("The Fear According to Ennio Morricone"), an obscure limited (1000 copies) release on Intermezzo Records that I snagged at Louisville's Wild and Wooly video store. Featuring a lot of his horror and spy themes, this collection really shows the true range of Morricone's talent and daring.
There's a bit of overlap between La paura and Crime and Dissonance, which is all to the good. I haven't had the chance to get all the way through it yet, but so far it's even more stunning than La paura. Morricone is like a giant musical/cultural blender, but unlike the Carl Stalling cut up methods that people like John Zorn employ, Morricone forms his raw materials instead of just throwing them out on the floor. The results are myriad and amazing.
Do yourself a favor and dig this.