There was a time in Italy when movies did not suck. Or at least, when they sucked, they did it in a graciously peculiar way.
Alongside the world-famous auteurs (the Fellinis, the Viscontis, the Bertoluccis), there was a plethora of lesser known, critically unappreciated directors, often mockingly called cinematografari, frantically tackling (and twisting) every kind of movie genre: western, comedy, thriller. For some reason, they excelled especially in their wild, sick take on horror and crime dramas – and music played a big role in these successes.
Classically trained composers like Ennio Morricone and Stelvio Cipriani rubbed shoulders with former pop stars-turned-soundtrackers like Nico Fidenco and Pino Donaggio and together happily immersed themselves in the muddy waters of this cinematic swamp, creating their own distorted versions of the funk, psychedelia and beat rock canons. The aberrant results were then applied like thick make-up to equally mind-boggling, malevolent, highly stylized movies from directors like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci or schlock uebermeister Joe D’Amato.
For a brief period it worked at the box office too.
“Nostra Signora delle Tenebre” is a tribute to that extraordinary, by-gone era now apparently forgotten in Italy too. It is a tribute to the gloriously adventurous soundtracks of maybe somehow less glorious horror and giallo flicks – movies that anyway retained a decidedly Italian flavour, a bizarre mix of nasty violence, lurid sexuality and feverish Catholic mysticism, all filtered through a manic obsession with death, blood and the sins of the flesh.
At the same time, this album is a way to celebrate a small but thriving national scene, generally labeled under the admittedly lazy banner of “Italian occult psychedelia” and championed by the likes of Simon Reynolds and Julian Cope while at the same time getting growing interest from music magazines, with several features on The Wire, Vice, Fact Magazine, Tiny Mixtapes, Foxy Digitalis etc.
“Nostra Signora delle Tenebre” gathers together almost all the best bands in the scene: groups like Michael Gira’s favourites Father Murphy, Lay Llamas and Mamuthones (now both on Rocket Recordings), Heroin In Tahiti, Cannibal Movie and Jennifer Gentle, probably the best known Italian indie band abroad and whose “A New Astronomy” album is considered a forefather of the genre.
We asked these bands to revive some of our favourite horror and giallo soundtracks from the 60’s and the 70’s. They did it in their own way, and it sounds good.