His Dark Exotica: Ennio Morricone – “Seduction and Magic”/ “Dark Revelation”

Save for “Magic and Ecstasy”, “Seduction and Magic” is perhaps the most Goblin-esque of the thirteen tracks on Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Exorcist II: The Heretic. It is, however, conversely so. Much like the legendary giallo prog-rockers’ “Sighs” from their 1977 release Suspiria (released the same year as The Heretic), in “Seduction and Magic” there is a thematic cue coupled with voice, sighs and creepy whispers of sorts. Each piece is more functional than it is musical; each track itself is not simply foley, rather each is an ambient process outputted from the composer’s more tuneful efforts. These amalgamate selections seem common to giallo films, always included as if the listener, having never watched the film before listening to its soundtrack, would never be able to perceive its full mood without being given two-minutes or less of what an outside perceiver might consider haunted house music. And I don’t mean witch house.

The second inclusion of this sort of cue comes by way of “Dark Revelation”, the more interesting of the two, including both the soundtrack’s coda and a strange vocal ambiance that could remain at home on the next Burial album. “Dark Revelation” is less post-exotica and more traditional film score, but its a reusable piece that transcends much of the other coda-based pieces in The Heretic. Like a quick rendition of the Jaws theme played in under two minutes and with significant emphasis on mood, tempo, and dynamic control, “Dark Revelation” is simply a taste of more busied soundtrack inclusions like “Great Bird in the Sky” or even “Magic and Ecstasy”.

Morricone’s point for each piece is obvious: these are the necessary parts of a horror soundtrack. More specifically, they form what the late `70s defined as the quintessential late-giallo soundtrack. They move in and out of coda reference, cite vocalized aspects of atmosphere, and sound–for the most part–intriguingly spooky. But what’s important about them? “Dark Revelation” plays in a different form than that of the soundtrack toward the end of the film, and insignificantly so. “Seduction and Magic” seems to be purely an album choice, existing in the film without its most abundant element: the malign voices that speak in hushes throughout. I suppose the importance of a soundtrack, especially one whose primary influence seems to be Goblin, seems to be the same importance critically placed by those writing for the genre when discussing horror films through annotation. There are elements that do a horror film make, pending its choice of sub-genre, of course. For soundtracks such as these, one must hear all of the film’s affects irrespective of their actual placement in the film. We, as listeners, want the full aural experience on vinyl just as we want album art that varies slightly from the poster art. There’s a reason people buy this stuff, and it isn’t because they want to hear exactly what they heard in the theatre.