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Get FISTFUL OF FILM MUSIC if you want all the hits, it’s probably the best comp around. Be warned it can start to drag at the bottom of the second disc. GET CRIME AND DISSONANCE if you want the deep cuts, the crazy acid jazz, the electroacoustic stuff. -Ian!

There is much more to Ennio Morricone than his soundtracks for spaghetti Westerns. The moody Italian has managed to create some of the most atmospheric and macabre work in movie music history. This double-disc represents the composer’s vast stylistic palette. There are the cannoli cowboy themes from A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but the collection delves into his lyrical “Chi Mai” from the 1981 film, The Professional, and the spooky choral experiments on the theme to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (arguably his best work). The first disc is stronger than the second, since the latter is taken up with more lackluster work from such films as The Untouchables and Bugsy. There are some vocal tracks by Joan Baez and a notable one by Domenico Modugno.

This two-disc anthology assembled by Mike Patton is, after the spaghetti Western soundtracks and themes, essential Morricone. Never has his music from the strange films he scored in the 1960s and ’70s been showcased in such an original and powerful way. Patton has looked closely into the experimental nature of the maestro and found plenty here to offer as well as to crow about. Many of the scores he chose from would be known only to cineastes of minor and obscure Italian films. Yet, Patton understood that Morricone loved his own process and treated crime and exploitation flicks like L’Anticristo and Forza G with the same delightful sense of adventure that he approached The Godfather and The Mission with. Here, all manner of strangeness is on offer: from psychedelic guitars and tripped-out wordless vocals to sitars, layers and layers of percussion, acid-drenched strings, an Echoplexed celeste, toy pianos, psychotic operatic voices in chorus, and more. And this is no novelty compilation. It is sequenced with taste and depth. Most of the music here was conducted by the great Bruno Nicolai, and thematically moves from dark to ecstatic to just plain weird in a seamless fashion. In presenting Crime and Dissonance in this manner, Patton has given listeners a much wider view of Morricone not only as a composer, but as a sonic experimentalist. This is one of those must-haves for just about everybody interested in music just off the beaten path enough to conjure strange dreams and perhaps even nightmares.

-Thom Jurek, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
A FISTFUL OF FILM MUSIC (1995)
CRIME AND DISSONANCE (2005)
320kbps

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