Various Artists

Morricone RMX (Reprise)

Aug 22, 2001 at 4:00 am
You know who Ennio Morricone is: the composer responsible for the most recognizable -- and most widely ripped-off -- film music ever, that of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, along with soundtracks for a gazillion other, mainly European films.

Blowhard critics of electronic music have gotten a lot of mileage out of the "imaginary film soundtrack" analogy, so turning over some real film scores to like-minded engineers and DJs should result in something that will, if not sound good, sell well. Enter Morricone RMX, a collection of DJ remixes based on Morricone film scores.

Overall, Morricone RMX makes for some enjoyable ear time. Whereas the opening tracks -- remixes by Apollo Four Forty and Terranova of selections from Once Upon a Time in the West and For a Few Dollars More -- use music that should be familiar to American audiences, the remaining 11 tracks draw on relatively obscure Italian and French films. (Or perhaps you saw the 1970 film Lizard on the Skin of a Woman in a grad-school seminar? No? Never mind, then.) This variety should be good news for fans of Morricone who appreciate all his moods. Certainly the epic sweep of the spaghetti Western is represented, but so is the romantic Ennio. Fantastic Plastic Machine takes the 1968 score of The Alibi and rassles a wry samba out of material that is so amusingly dated, most remixers would try to bury it in electronic effects or pump it for laughs. It's a standout track because it conveys a sense of faithfulness to the original material, a faithfulness that other cuts lack. No, the emphasis here is on the "haunting" Morricone, suitable for the lounge-core aesthetic.

But this isn't really an album for Morricone purists, who no doubt have (or ought to get) a collection of his film music, much of which remains in print. The source material is primarily quality texture for artists such as Thievery Corporation, Rockers Hi-Fi, the Sofa Surfers and Groove Corporation, who do their duty and turn out a lovely collection of mellow, smoke-filled-lounge-electronica. In this genre, good textures are what it's all about, and no doubt Morricone inspired his remixers. Grooving on the retro-loungey quality of his 1970 original, De-Phazz adds into his mix a "live" trumpet, presumably to get the effect, er, more right.