Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ennio Morricone: Crime and Dissonance

Well, the Christmas season is over and I’ve been laying low, trying to maintain my sanity after mingling with some of my more crazy relatives, and just generally keeping it together. One of the ways I maintain equilibrium is through music. This year, Bad Santa was extremely gracious by delivering into my quivering hands the new two-disc Ennio Morricone CD collection, Crime and Dissonance. Yeah, I know, do we really need another Morricone collection? He’s a prolific composer to say the least, and the numerous compilations, remixes, and original soundtracks themselves document whatever style the maestro was mastering at the time. Well, after listening to the first couple of tracks off of disc one, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the finest, most thematically consistent compilations of Morricone’s late-1960s, early-1970s period. It’s a strong addition to any Morricone aficionado’s collection. This is bold, experimental, psychedelic, sexy, scary, and sometimes transcendent music, charting Morricone’s work outside of the Spaghetti Western work he’s rightfully renowned for. Compiled by Alan Bishop and with liner notes from avant-garde composer John Zorn (who recorded his own tribute to Morricone with his brilliant CD The Big Gundown), the tracks tend to favor the glimmering darkness that Morricone was exploring at the time; though plenty of the tracks are not dark by any means, strangeness and exoticism are ever-present. It’s a relatively perfect mix-tape of aural shades and shifting sonic textures, failing to be the holy grail of Morricone compilations simply because such a collection would have to be twice as long to attain such an honor. I think I’ll always favor the epic, playful, emotional majesty Morricone attained in his work for Sergio Leone’s westerns, but for my ears this is nevertheless pure acid-drenched bliss.

Crime and Dissonance is available on CD from the fantastic Ipecac Recordings label, which puts out loads of other strange sounds from strange people. Check ‘em out.

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