Demon Music Group’s new compilation, Vault of Horror: The Italian Connection, is a perfect introduction to the world of Italian genre scores for those who want to dive in, but aren’t quite sure where to start. Featuring music by heavy hitters such as Ennio Morricone, Walter Rizzati, and Fabio Frizzi - the latter getting a three-song run highlighting his music for the films of Lucio Fulci - it’s a treasure trove of classic music that is all smoothly funky and groovy.
Roberto Donati, Nico Fidenco, and Claudio Simonetti also get tracks, and there’s even a lesser-known piece from Riz Ortolani. Those who are more familiar with the gorgeous and lush music he did for the likes of Cannibal Holocaust or his worldwide smash More, for 1963’s Mondo Cane, will be quite surprised by the energetic, guitar and horn-laden The Fighter Centurions, from Rome 2033: The Fighter Centurions, which appears here.
As stated, even despite hidden gems such as the Ortolani piece, this is more of an introductory collection. 15 of the 20 film score featured on Vault of Horror have been reissued in the last five or so years, and are readily available from the likes of Four Flies, Death Waltz, One Way Static, or Dagored, if not cheaply on the secondary market. For someone looking for a place to dip their toe into the waters of Italian genre scores, though, there’s no finer starting point than this double LP.
The tracklisting for Vault of Horror was obviously designed with the double vinyl LP release in mind. Each side is perfectly compiled and sequenced to present a short representation of four different types of ambience. Side A is a little giallo and a little slasher, Side B is cannibal with a hint of sea monster, Side C is zombies, and Side D is post-apocalyptic battles.
Each heavyweight 180-gram LP comes in a printed sleeve with liner notes by Alan Jones, co-director of FrightFest and former writer for this very magazine. They are exhaustive - or near as can be when each LP side gets just one side of an LP sleeve - and feature both historical facts and context, along with some personal stories by Jones regarding the composers and directors of the films featured. As one listens, they can follow along with the text, track by track, and get a little hint as to how and where everything fits together.
Included in the packaging for Vault of Horror is a compact disc version of the music, so that one might listen in their vehicle or rip it for digital consumption away from the stereo, along with a 12” art print of Graham Humphreys’ cover artwork, minus the text. While a little gross, Humphreys’ artwork is classy enough to hang in most home offices.
While hardcore genre music fans will likely have much of this music already, for the novice, this is quite a bargain. It looks great and sounds excellent, and Jones’ liner notes do an excellent job of placing each track in the context of the larger whole. Even dedicated collectors will appreciate the sequencing and enjoy this as a solid listening experience.
VAULT OF HORROR: THE ITALIAN CONNECTION / COMPOSERS: FABIO FRIZZI, CLAUDIO SIMONETTI, ENNIO MORRICONE, / LABEL: DEMON MUSIC GROUP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW