COMPOSER: ENNIO MORRICONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The first instalment of the Ennio Morricone Themes collection from Music on Vinyl's At the Movies imprint, Western, saw the label compiling some of the Maestro's best-known themes for films such as A Fistful of Dollars, The Big Gundown, Once Upon A Time in the West, and more. Psycho is the second release in that series of five double vinyl LP releases, and compiles music for ‘some darkly dramatic films, some veering into the realms of horror,’ as the label describes these 13 tracks.
The music found on the two vinyl LPs has soundtracked a wide variety of films. Despite the fact that the upcoming fourth volume of the Themes series will be dedicated to Morricone's work on gialli pictures, several of the films in this collection definitely fall under that category, including Un tranquillo posto di campagna (A Quiet Place in the Country) and La Corta notte delle bambole di vetro (Short Night of Glass Dolls), but the compilation also draws from crime thrillers – Città violenta (Violent City) – and post-apocalyptic science fiction – Ecce Homo (The Survivors).
The compilation's purest aim is to create a sense of peril and disconcerting tension, and it ably achieves that aim through a collection of tracks which seem to focus on walking the line between beauty and fear. Prima della rivelazione, from 1971's Il diavolo nel cervello (Devil in the Brain) is a pastoral stroke of genius, using both harpsichord and flute, while subtly interpolating Beethoven's Für Elise. Its haunting notes are a complete turnaround from the ‘macabre march’ of Il Trio Infernale, from the film of the same name, which alternates playful harpsichord and marimba with ominous woodwinds and just a hint of distorted fuzz guitar.
Sinfonia Di Una Citta from Copkiller overlays a metronomic pulse with striking, slashing brass and strings, and creates a true Symphony of a City, capturing the feeling of dangerous streets at night. The concluding track, Venuta Dal Mare, from Ecce Homo, however, is the real discovery of this collection. At 14+ minutes, it almost takes up the entirety of Psycho's fourth side, and runs a veritable gamut of emotions.
While many of these tracks have been readily available elsewhere, the curation of this release is stellar, and the order in which the piece have been compiled bring to mind the score for another, unmade film, which is near-constant terror from start to finish, yet not without its beauty.
Psycho is available in a limited edition of 3000 numbered copies on translucent red vinyl, although the copy we received has some streaks within, lending an even more eerie touch to the package when examined in conjunction with the spot-gloss blood on the album's cover. The package includes a 4-page insert with liner notes written by Claudio Fuiano, which offers up track-by-track information on the films and music. The sound on the LPs is excellent, as well, resulting in an excellent experience as one drops the needle, sits, listens, and reads through the liner notes.