Music

Ennio Morricone: Morricone 60

Ennio Morricone stops to take stock in his career, though only for a brief moment.


Ennio Morricone

Morricone 60

Label: Decca
US Release Date: 2016-11-11
UK Release Date: 2016-11-11
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Every profession seems to have its something's something. By which I mean, for instance, a lawyer's lawyer -- a lawyer to represent all lawyers. Articles and discussions in entertainment and pop culture circles are full of this kind of praise. We've all talked about a writer's writer, a songwriter's songwriter, a film director's film director, a painter's painter, and so on. Ennio Morricone has spent 60 years sculpting a career as a film scorer's film scorer. If the name alone doesn't stir around any recognition in your brain, then the things he has touched with his artistic hand certain will. A short list of his credits include The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, Cinema Paradiso, The Untouchables, and his recent Academy Award-winning work for The Hateful Eight. Anyone with more than just a passing familiarity with classic film should be able to nod in recognition while slowing saying "That guy!" The lonely two-note cry sounding over an arid desert shortly followed by a galloping percussion that introduces the unmistakable electric guitar theme to "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" -- Morricone is that guy. He achieved iconic status years ago.

Morricone 60 is the sound of the composer taking a brief pause to look into his rearview mirror before continuing into the future. Ennio Morricone has been professionally scoring movies for 60 years now, an occasion that he and Decca have decided to commemorate with a collection where the composer conducts the Czech National Symphony through 23 career highlights. So Morricone 60 is a bit of a rerecorded "greatest hits" compilation, one that will never be accused of "messing with the gospel", so to speak. Only the non-chronological track sequencing may throw off only the most unforgiving film buff. Apart from that, listening to Morricone 60 is like sitting in an opulent theater, listening to one of the world's top symphonies giving a 73-minute program in tribute to one of the greats in cinematic music.

The CD starts with three cuts from Morricone's lush and bountiful score for The Mission, followed by a jumbled order of various spaghetti western themes from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, and A Fistful of Dynamite. "On Earth As It Is in Heaven" proves that you don't have to pilfer Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" in order to summon a powerful chorus score (I'm looking at you, nearly every current film scorer in Hollywood). The charming late '90s Italian film Cinema Paradiso is, rather unfortunately, represented by only five minutes of music. Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, the recent toast of Morricone's career, lays claim to Morricone 60's longest track with the nail-biting "Stage Coach to Red Rock". Though I have not seen The Hateful Eight, this seven-minute piece of music suggests that something bad is about to happen, a long-burning wick that never actually reaches the dynamite.

If Ennio Morricone would have stopped composing after The Mission, he would have achieved a career goal that few of us can even imagine obtaining. Instead, he continued to move ahead. As of this writing, it is reported that Morricone and Tarantino will be teaming up yet again in the near future, making Morricone 60 just a blip in time rather than a career summation. It's not as if we would have expected otherwise.

8

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image