Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Ennio Morricone 2

Going in no particular order, next up is the album Veruschka (soundtrack to Veruschka-Poetry of a Woman, AKA Veruschka-poesia di una donna), 1971 (original film release). 2LP.

There's little in the way of a description of this film on the IMDB page: "Fashion photographer Franco Rubartelli's visually lush and moody head film about European supermodel Veruschka."

I can't say whether this is a documentary in any true sense of the word. The music must have been important for the film, considering there's as much of it as there is. The instrumentation, as best as I can tell, is piano, strings (possibly string quartet, maybe more, probably not full string orchestra), harp, flute, electric bass, guitar, drums plus various percussion and mallets. Late in the score there's a clearly improvised track including trumpet. That is most likely Ennio himself.

The only thing I can glean from the content of the film is that Veruschka appears in no fewer than four different body paints, based on the front and back covers and B and D side labels.

The back cover sees her in a bird-inspired face paint, which is also the image used for the front cover of the Morricone collection Crime and Dissonance. I highly recommend this double CD. Released on Mike Patton's Ipecac Records, it focused on Morricone's strangest works, rather than his more famous or crowd-pleasing compositions. Actually, not all of it is particularly weird; there's a little (an easy go-to comparison) Phantom of the Opera organ, and a short track of furious Roma-inspired solo violin. The strangeness is emphasized when juxtaposed with some of the more improvisational or atonal tracks. Two tracks from Veruschka are included.

For a film focused on a supermodel, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone the sweetness of some of the score. There's the wordless vocalise again, or lyrics sung in a highly breathy, eroticized voice. The only credits given on the cover go to the producer (Gianni Dell'Orso) and the vocalist (Edda Dell'Orso). I suspect that Ms. Dell'Orso did many vocals for the composer, based on hearing other recordings. I'll have to watch for her name again.

Back when I was working at CAPA High School (Pittsburgh's school for the creative and performing arts), I'd play various CDs before classes began. I'd had on some Morricone, either Crime and Dissonance or Giornata nera per l'ariete, and there was that breathy voice. No notes or lyrics, just a vocalization that could have been interpreted as either sexual arousal or gasping in fear. Another teacher commented that he thought maybe it was good there weren't any students around at the time.

Being a soundtrack, you get to hear the main title theme (as well as several secondary themes) worked over a few times. There's a little of that 70s Morricone atonalism, and even some improvisational phaux-exotica. There's also at times a prominent harp run through a delay. It adds to the spaciness of this "head film," but also dates it. I was thinking of the delay used on portions of Fantastic Voyage, with the same results. The voice is also run through delay a few times.

I looked up Wikipedia-level information on Veruschka, and I'm happy to inform that at 81, she is still alive. I expect another tragic fall-from-grace story after her modeling stardom, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Her young life is interesting and did see tragedy, so I encourage you to look her up yourself.

I've listened to this entire OST. As with many soundtracks, it's all good but as a listening experience could have been pared down to a single LP. No complaints otherwise.

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