Piero Umiliani - Library Music Volume 1
For more than 20 years, Cinedelic has stood at the forefront of reissuing unconventional soundtracks and Italian library music, illuminating obscure treasures that establish startling links between avant-garde music and mainstream film. Last year they took these efforts to new heights with The Complete AYNA Sessions 72-76, a fascinating box set dedicated to the work of Egisto Macchi. Now, launching into 2022, they’re offering the same devotion to the equally seminal Italian composer, Piero Umiliani, with Library Music Volume 1, an astounding 13 CD box set spanning a period from 1971 to 1983. Housed in two beautiful wooden box editions - white in a numbered edition of 100 copies, and black in a numbered edition of 400 copies - containing each album mastered from the original tapes and individually sleeved with immaculate reproduced cover art and booklet, when it comes to library music, it really doesn't get better than this.
The work of Piero Umiliani (1926 – 2001) exists within a fascinating paradox of social and musical history; a composer of profound importance and vision, whose sprawling body of work has remained sinfully obscure. This is largely a consequence of his devotion to the mysterious and often anonymous realm of Italian library music and soundtrack composition to which he devoted his life, a movement that blossomed in Italy during the second half of the 20th Century, encountering many of the country’s most ambitious composers working under numerous guises - in the case of Umiliani, monikers like Catamo, M. Zalla, Moggi, Old Big Chief And His Magic Twenty Fingers, Rovi, Tusco, etc. - while using the context of film and television to deliver wild experiments into the world like a sonic Trojan course.
Cinedelic’s 13 CD box, Library Music Volume 1, is an extended survey of the cream of Umiliani’s output from the period between 1971 to 1983, arguably the most diverse and creatively prolific in his long career, nine of which have never been reissued on a digital format. Resting at the centre of the focus is the composer’s personal studio. the Sound Work Shop, an 82 square meter room, filled with instruments from across the globe, that helped spawn this incredible period of artistic freedom.
Launching Library Music Volume 1, is the composer’s 1972 LP, Percussioni ed Effetti Speciali (Percussions and Special Effectes), gathering over 30 tracks of percussion pieces, ranging from pure driving rhythms to the wildly experimental works that incorporated bubbling synths, referencing various individual traditions, while nodding toward a future emerging in real time. In typically Umiliani style, from here we delve far afield with 1971’s Underground, created with Alessandro Alessandroni and Oronzo De Filippi within a mysterious project named The Braen's Machine. A heavy, psyche drench prog opus that stands among the composer’s wildest excursions into popular music of the moment, it sets everything we thought we know about him on its head. The third disc in the set, 1973’s Temi Ritmici e Dinamici (Dynamic and Rhythmic Themes), encounter The Braen's Machine at work again, leaving the heady realms encountered across Underground behind, displaying remarkable versatility with a break heavy zone of funky jazz, before coming up for air across the length of Nuove Arie Romantiche, another ensemble album, drenched this time in pastoral jazziness, featuring Sitimo (Antonio Simonetti) and Mico Bianchi (Michele Cobianch).
As Library Music Volume 1 continues, the listener is constantly uprooted from easy presumptions and comfort zones within Umiliani’s ever changing inner world, from two M. Zalla gems from 1974 - Musica Classica per l'Uomo d'Oggi (Classical Music For the Man of Today) and Mondo Inquieto (Troubled World) - that dreamily wind across their respective sides, to the string laden grooves of Motivi Allegri e Distensivi (Cheerful and Relaxing Motifs), released in 1978 under the moniker Rovi, the funky jazz of Discomusic and Notturno Siciliano (Sicilian Nocturne), making nods to Headhunter era Herbie Hancock, and the big band era nostalgia of Film Concerto and Album di Viaggio (Travel Album), before resolving with a return to some of the composers most experimental gestures in electronic process, with Tensione (Tension) and Suspence Elettronica (Electronic Supsence), respectively released under the monikers of Moggi and Tusco.
Piero Umiliani produced an almost inconceivable amount of music during the 1970s and '80s, covering a vast range of creative idioms. Library Music Volume 1 does an astounding job of honing in on the best of the best, shining light on what a singular and ambitious figure in the history of Italian music he was. Unquestionably one of the most expansive surveys of his work yet to be produced, Cinedelic’s 13 CD is released in two beautiful wooden box editions - white in a numbered edition of 100 copies, and black in a numbered edition of 400 copies - containing each album mastered from the original tapes and individually sleeved with immaculate reproduced cover art and a booklet. A stunning object filled with mind-blowing sounds, it’s not to be missed by any fan of Umiliani, library music, soundtracks, and Italian music at large.