erasing clouds

5 Music Reviews

The Clientele, "Lacewings"/"Policeman Getting Lost" 7" (Unpopular Records)

Is there a better way to kick off a new progressive pop label than to release a 7" single by the Clientele? Not in my book. The UK label Unpopular Records, an Exeter-based creator of limited edition 7" records, has as its first release a Clientele single featuring two live tracks, recorded in Londong in the spring of 2003. Both songs beautifully showcase the hazy dreamer's zones that Clientele songs are, as well as how perfect their melodies are, how great of a guitar band they are, and how their live sound is both rawer and just as intimate and powerful as their recordings. The A side is an excellent version of "Lacewings", the B-side an ethereal yet rough and in-the-moment version of The Violet Hour's closing track, the enigmatic love song "Policeman Getting Lost." Sometimes beginnings can be magical, and the Clientele help this feel like one of those times. - dave heaton

Francesco De Masi, India (Hexacord)

The Bollywood mania has reached incredible levels in the last few years. In Great Britain there was even a recent TV show in which hundreds of young men and women tried their luck, during various auditions, at becoming a true Bollywood star, dance routines and saris included. Even though the Bollywood mania seems to be still sweeping the world, the album India hasn't got much to do with it. Composed by Francesco De Masi, India, is not a compilation of Bollywood soundtracks, but the score for an Italian programme shot quite a few years ago, in 1967, entitled Alla Scoperta dell'India (Discovering India) by journalist Folco Quilici. India contains fifteen tracks of different length, all variations of the main theme of the programme introduced to the listener in the first track of the album. The soundtrack opens with the notes of a solitary sitar (courtesy of Maestro Alessandro Alessandroni), which take on the second track, "India (In Nome di Maometto)", the nuances of a score for a Spaghetti Western film. Lounge like inflections prevail in some of the tracks such as "India (Quando le Terre ed i Mari si Incrociano)", while swing and jazz seem to be the choice for the more experimental track "India, Oggi". In this album exotic melodies woven by sitars, harps, flutes and guitars build a pleasant soundscape which, rather than copying any Bollywood soundtrack in particular, celebrates the "endless mosaic of voices, lights and sounds", to use Quilici's words, that is India. - anna battista

Ennio Morricone, Millennio Morricone (Hexacord)

Years ago, Ennio Morricone was asked by a journalist how would he define himself. "I am the kind of person who adapts to the specific requirements of the movie I am working on," he answered, adding that he was a sort of "chameleon", constantly changing and reinventing himself. Surely nobody can disagree with such a definition given by the Maestro himself: there is nobody all around the world who can argue about the art and style of Ennio Morricone, a true chameleon of sound who penned over 400 scores. To celebrate his career, Hexacord (directed by the Italian soundtrack expert Roberto Zamori) has now released a compilation of Morricone's stuff. Entitled Millennio Morricone, the album includes soundtracks taken from various films all from a particular period, 1965-1979. Millennio Morricone opens with a track from Giuliano Montaldo's Gli Intoccabili (The Untouchables) (1968), though some of the earliest tracks contained here are the loungy ones for the film Slalom (1965), a cult Italian spy movie directed by Luciano Salce and starring actor Vittorio Gassman. Among the 22 tracks collected in the compilation, there are also quite a few from Luciano Ercoli's giallo Le Foto Proibite di una Signora Per Bene (Forbidden Photos of A Lady Above Suspicion) (1970), with the Maestro Alessandro Alessandroni on guitar, but also from Vittorio Caprioli's sensual sex comedy Scusi Facciamo l'Amore? (Listen Let's Make Love) (1968) (check out the exotic rhythms of "Secondo Intermezzo Pop" with Alessandroni on the sitar) and from Adolfo Celi, Vittorio Gassman and Luciano Lucignani's L'Alibi (1969). Dedicated to all the Morricone obsessive fans out there, but also to those who don't know much about Morricone and, basically, to everybody else. - anna battista

Mario Nascimbene, Footprints in Jazz (Hexacord)

Mastering the art of the variation is the way a composer can keep on reinventing himself or herself continuously and consequently create new sounds. Italian composer Mario Nascimbene was certainly able to reinvent himself, as the collection Footprints in Jazz shows. Nascimbene was born in Milan in 1913 and is often remembered for being the first Italian composer who became famous in Hollywood. He was indeed trusted by directors such as King Vidor, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Robert Rossen, Jack Cardiff and Richard Fleischer, though his best friend and collaborator was Italian director Valerio Zurlini. The Maestro wrote the score for Zurlini's Estate Violenta (1959 - for its score Nascimbene was awarded the Nastro D'Argento in 1960), La Ragazza con la Valigia (1961), Le Soldatesse (1965) and La Prima Notte di Quiete (1972). Opening with the short "Preludio", just a glimpse of what will come after, "Footprints in Jazz" contains sensual, lounge, funk, jazzy, bluesy tracks, some directed by Maestro Roberto Pregadio. "Blues Della Notte" is a sad ode, "Duello", "Il Mimo e la Rosa" and "Introduzione Psicologica" are pure '60s tracks, psychedelic and catchy, which remind of the best Mondo Movie soundtracks. The ethnic percussions of "Afro-Cuban Swing", the exotica of "Classic Beguine" and the irresistible swing of "Ritmico Swing" make Footprints in Jazz one of the best compilations of Nascimbene's music and probably the best tribute to his memory. - anna battista

We Could Live in Hope: A Tribute to Low (Fractured Discs)

We Could Live in Hope: A Tribute to Low very much lives up to the second half of its title. This is not a collection of reinterpretations of Low songs; it is very much a tribute, bands faithfully expressing their love for Low by trying to capture some of the magic they feel from Low's music. In other words, these are close-to-literal covers for the most part. The stripped-down setting and slow pace of Low's songs are mostly retained, as are the sincerely articulated emotions. If you're a Low fan, in these 12 artists you will recognize kindred spirits, and in their songs you will feel a glow. If you're new to Low, this album will give you a sense of their songs' unique power. If you're looking for Low to be radically re-contextualized, you'll be disappointed. For me the album works as a totality, as a cohesive love letter to Low, with especially gorgeous contributions from Kid Dakota ("Lullaby"), the Winter Blanket ("Drag"), and The Strugglers ("Cut"). That said, my favorite song on the album is perhaps the least faithful of a cover - Mark Kozelek's country-folk version of "Lazy" sounds more like a Kozelek song than a Low song, though it retains the band's spirit, much like his many covers of AC/DC did. And I'm also quite taken with Idaho's "Rope" and Migala's "Words," both of which push the spaced-out side of Low to extremes. So even as I admire and enjoy the strength of devotion that resonates through We Could Live in Hope's most straight-forward covers, there's a part of me that finds even more to appreciate in the versions that push the boundaries of the songs a bit. - dave heaton

Issue 26, September 2004

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