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Continuing with my Italian horror theme for "Halloween Countdown 2010", I present to you the soundtrack to one of my favorite films from Italian director Dario Argento. When Argento directed a film he often turned to the members of Goblin to create the music for the film. The members of Goblin had a hand in creating the music to all of Argento's films from 1975 to 1987, with the exception of one film, Inferno. Argento chose progressive rocker Keith Emerson to compose Inferno's soundtrack because he "wanted a different sort of score from that by Italian progressive group Goblin on Suspiria, a more delicate one".
The version of the soundtrack I'm presenting today is a CD reissue released in Italy by Cinevox in 2004. It contains Keith Emerson's original score, as well as a bonus track "Inferno (Outtakes Suite)". This version is currently out of print and no longer available to purchase from Cinevox. Cinevox later reissued the soundtrack again with additional bonus tracks in 2006.
Unfortunately that is all I have time to write about this soundtrack right now as I have to leave for work in a few minutes. I had hoped to be able to write a full-length review earlier in the day, but things just didn't work out the way I had planned. The idea behind the Halloween Countdown is to present at least one item each day until October 31st arrives, and I'm simply not going to have time to do that unless I post a review from a different source. Fortunately I was able to find a very well written review by on cinefantastiqueonline.com (damn, that's a long name for a website) which I hope will be enough to satisfy your curiosity.
"Although often compared unfavorably to Goblin’s music for SUSPIRIA, keyboardist Keith Emerson’s score for the sequel, INFERNO, is every bit as in tune with the film, perfectly matching the mood and action. Unlike Goblin’s heavy rhythms, shrieking vocals, and shrill synthesizers of the previous film, Emerson employs a much more subtle approach, weaving a score out of quiet piano motifs supported by orchestral arrangements, only occasionally reaching into his electronic bag of tricks for a more outre effect. The result comes closer to a conventional piece of film scoring, underlining the on-screen action without drawing as much attention to itself.
If there is a failing to the music, it is one seen in several Argento films (though not in SUSPIRIA): a disconnect between the music and the visual. Occasionally, Emerson’s music seems to shrill for the scene it accompanies. In the case of Kazanian’s Tarantella” (in which a man is attacked by rats in Central Park during a lunar eclipse), the music builds to a grandiose climax more appropriate for a heroic rescue than a bloody demise. Fortunately, this (relatively minor) problem does not extend to the soundtrack album, where the music can be enjoyed on its own.
Unlike the album for SUSPIRIA (and indeed for other Goblin soundtracks, which gave the impression that the group had simply performed a series of track that Argento then cut into the film wherever he felt like it), the track listing of the INFERNO album follows the film in chronological order. Most of the music consists of delicate piano instrumentals (enhanced by ominous orchestral arrangements), which thread the recurring “Inferno” main title theme throughout the film; the effect is hypnotic and dreamy rather than overtly horrific. For the major suspense set pieces (e.g., “A Cat Attic Attack”), the orchestra kicks in with all the enthusiasm of Bernard Herrmann as his most intense, and Emerson adopts a more frenetic, perscussive style of playing that will be familiar to fans of his work as a progressive rocker.
Providing a break from the piano-orchestral sound that dominates the music are a handful of other tracks. “Rose Gets It” features an eerie wordless vocal (probably achieved with a synthesizer; the effect sounds much like a theremin). “The Library” is a brief piece for solo church organ that manages to evoke a Gothic ambiance without sounding too cliched. ”Taxi Ride (Rome)” and “Cigarettes, Ices, Etc” recreate the old three-piece line-up of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, with bass and drums laying down the rhythm while Emerson layers various, piano and keyboard sounds on top. ”Cigarettes,” the last track on the original album, was apparently intended as the closing title music; instead, Argento reused the track “Mater Tenebrarum,” a sort of rock-and-roll version of Jerry Goldsmith’s OMEN theme, with a vocalist chanting the Latin names of the “Three Mothers” described in a book by an alchemist: Mater Suspiriorum (the Mother of Sighs), Mater Tenebrarum (the Mother of Darkness), and Mater Lachrymarum (the Mother of Tears). A handful of music cues from the movie did not make it onto the old vinyl soundtrack album. These were mostly brief, droning synthesizer bits, used as transitions. Subsequent CD releases include a suite of outtakes.
Although lacking the outrageous impact of Goblin’s work for SUSPIRIA, the music for INFERNO is excellent in its own right. In fact, Emerson’s debut as a film composer far exceeds his subsequent, much less distinguished work on NIGHT HAWKS and MURDER ROCK (although he did contribute some nice work to GODZILLA: FINAL WARS). Those seeking the progressive rock assault of keyboardist’s group efforts (The Nice, ELP) will be disappointed, but taken in its own terms, the music for INFERNO is as good as anything Emerson ever did." - Steve Biodrowski
Year of Release: Original: 1980 | Reissue: 2004 Label: Cinevox (CD MDF 306) Genre: Soundtrack/Score, Horror, Electronic Bitrate: 320kbps
Tracklist: 1. Inferno 2. Rose's Descent Into the Cellar 3. Taxi Ride 4. Library 5. Sarah in the Library Vaults 6. Brookbinder's Delight 7. Rose Leaves the Apartment 8. Rose Gets It 9. Elisa's Story 10. A Cat Attic Attack 11. Kazanian's Tarantella 12. Mark's Discovery 13. Mater Tenebrarum 14. Inferno Finale 15. Cigarretes, Ices, Etc 16. Inferno (Outtakes Suite)