For a lights-kept-low evening among friends in the apartment, Rockford Kabine’s Italian Music - 31 Invalid Movie Themes isn’t an ideal conversation maker. Two producers from Bochum, Germany celebrate musical vignettes on Italian Music in a way that mirrors what West Coast sampler authority Madlib has done most recently on his Beat Konducta LPs. Rockford’s Anthony Sharas and Marlon Marlon pen a love letter to (segments of) movie themes on Italian Music, particularly those of the 70s thriller/horror film variety. In its 31 tracks, only a couple entries break two minutes, with the rest of the odd electronic/organic blends whizzing by in an often uneasy gurgling of lo-fi organ riffs and looped guitars.
Not unlike the manner in which Madlib’s Movie Scenes occasionally begs for an emcee to pounce on top of it, some of Rockford Kabine’s instrumentals on Italian Music sound as if Ghostface is going to drop in at any moment, recounting tales of coke deals gone sour or holdup hoods scattering with loot. Outside of an adequately placed Rosemary’s Baby-type coo (“Al Signor Lorenzo N”), however, Rockford Kabine’s lethargic ditties puzzle and hypnotize independent of vocals. A little more than 30 seconds of spidery fuzzbox riffs and a swinging drum break crown “IX” an all-too-brief jewel in the lot, giving way to orderly machine shop noises and piano keys on darkened-street-getaway track “Il Pelo” (translation: “The Hair”). Italian Music flops around like this for 41 minutes—its weathered vinyl hiss, low-budget film dialogue, and chopped strings set a mood that’s cut off before its feet are firmly planted. Such is the aggravating and borderline hysterics-inducing consequence of this “song segment genre,” but when short fiction can mystify in just a few pages, it shouldn’t be hurriedly shelved.