Hey, the twangy, spooky CD I did for my band-mate Kris was voted as ‘Mix of the week’ at Art of the Mix. One of my recent improvements here is that you can now comment on any record review. Just go into ‘Full Details’ and click ‘comment’…

Compilation - Ennio Morricone: 'Assoluto Morricone' (LP; Cinevox; 1969-1981)
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I could be wrong, but this compilation seems to be intended as a companion volume to the superb 'Mondo Morricone' compilations. I say this because there are few track duplications between this and 'Mondo', and also because the packaging seems to be trying to cash in on some of the goodwill of 'Mondo' by using a similar design motif with images of vintage chairs.

Alas, that is pretty much where the similarity ends - the wonderful continuity of the 'Mondo' discs is missing here, and some tracks really sound jarring to my ears.

It opens strongly with the catchy, repetive and simple 'Mare assolutamente' from 1969's 'L'assoluto Naturale'. It's a cool piece with prominent piano, rather like the great 'Ritratto d'autore' from 'Mondo Morricone'. This is followed rather inappropriately by 'Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto' from the film of 1970. This is a slow, bizarre theme with electronic 'boing' effects. I'm sure it worked well in the movie, but it's not a piece which bears repeated listens. Next up is the quite brilliant 'La Cosa Buffa' - a beautiful 1972 number with rich strings, electric harpsichord and wordless vocals. I already had this on 'Erotica Italia', but it's great to hear it again.

The compilers seem to like sudden changes of mood, because the next track is the jarring 'L'ultimo treno della notte', with its disonant and piercing train sounds. Ouch! The familiar swaying sound of "metti una sera a cena' comes as a great relief after this, and I almost forget that this is the third or fourth CD compilation I have with this track on it. Next up is 'E lei se ne more' from 1972's 'Anche se volessi lavorare che faccio?' , which is really the only track on here I hadn't heard before that I really like. It starts with just piano, electric harpsichord, strings and woodwinds, and builds up beautifully with bass and percussion. The chord sequence is subtle and rather beautiful, and some chanting/religious sounding vocals come in during the second half of the song. A great track; I just wish they were all like that!

Unfortunately, the cycle of 'Beautiful track/Jarring track' continues with 'Il gatto' from 1979. This really isn't a bad track, but it's not what I want to hear right now - the relentless rhythm makes me feel as if I'm chased around the streets. 'L'estasi del miracolo' is quite a pleasant slow orchestral piece, but somehow you can tell this is from 1980, and the overall style and mood are no longer to my taste (I know - I'm fickle with my late 60s/early 70s fixation).

'Un Sacco Bello' is a highly unusual and quite interesting number, with standard Morricone instrumentation made slightly more jaunty, and with the melody whistled throughout. It reminds me strangely of the pop group The Divine Comedy's album 'Casanova'. 'Una tenera Moglie', from 1979's 'Il gio cattollo' opens promisingly, but ends up sounding like a generic piece of film music, albeit with some familiar Morricone touches and instrumentation. 'Marcetta popolare', from 1981 is a pretty ridiculous-sounding folky number which evokes Robin Hood set in the future, featuring synthesized trombones and electric piano. It's mercifully short though.

The compilation is rescued at this point by the classic theme 'Piume di cristalo' from 1969 - really spooky, childlike wordless vocals over sparse instrumentation and what sounds like dozens of shimmering silver triangles. A spooky wordless vocal choir then comes in and sings a beautifully scored piece. It's really quite unique, and showcases Morricone's genius rather well. Another familiar Morricone piece follows: 'Gui la testa', from the 1971 Sergio Leone film. This is to me one of Morricone's most endearing western themes, managing to be delicate and beautiful in spite of its rather crude 'Shong Shong' percussive vocals.

'La Moglie pui' bella' sees Morricone still in 'boing boing' sound effects mode, and this slightly jarring dramatic piece isn't very enjoyable for me at all. The warmer 'Cosi come sei', from 1978 gets going quite nicely, although its late date comes across in some of the brass playing late on in the track.

And while there's nothing wrong with either of them, neither 'La donna della domenica' or 'accadde a venezia' are very exciting - they're just reasonably generic-sounding, quiet pieces. At first I thought the same of 'come un madrigale' from 1971, but in fact it's a rather charming piece, very delicate and pretty.

Overall, there is a lot of genius on this compilation, but I don't like the way it was put together one bit. I wish that the people who put it together had learnt more from 'Mondo Morricone' and 'More Mondo Morricone'.

Compilation - Kalanji Anandji: 'Laawaris/Muqaddar Ka Sikandar' (CD; EMI India; 1978-1979)
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This sounds quite cool, although I think it will take me a while to get into it. One cut, the funky 'Pyar Zindagi Hai' features on a few Bollywood compilations. This the only 'westernized' cut, as far as I can tell. The sound doesn't seem so great, and it's hard to tell which songs are from which soundtrack. Anyway, I'll report back in more detail when I've given this a proper listen.

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