Before talking about Psichedelica, one of the many and rare library albums signed by Piero Umiliani, we must step back in time, until June 1968, when Umiliani was working on the score of Svezia Inferno e Paradiso (Sweden Heaven and Hell), one of the many collaborations between director Luigi Scattini and the Maestro. In fact, a large part of the music recorded for that movie, one of Umiliani's most popular works, would be later selected for this library release. Originally issued by the label Omicron, which pressed 200 copies, not even destined to be sold. Despite the title, a misleading Psichedelica, and a suitable colored cover, this LP walks - of course, one might say - along the lines of Scattini's film soundtrack, among beat outbursts, orchestral tracks and some references to the rock sound of the time, as can be heard in the second of the two versions of Hippies.
Those who know will remember that Psichedelica contains the first version of Umiliani's most famous composition: Mah-Nà Mah-Nà, a track that will be a mixed blessing of his artistic life. Considered a filler and discarded from the soundtrack of Svezia Inferno e Paradiso, it was originally called Viva la sauna svedese (featuring Alessandro Alessandroni and his wife Julia on vocals, as well as in Birra, Vermouth e Gin); it was then retitled and re-released in the US a few months later, achieving unprecedented success and even ending up in the charts; later known as 'The Muppet Show's song', it became almost immediately a world famous cult track, an authentic hallmark of Piero Umiliani's popular genius.
Psichdelica is a fun album. It is music from the pen of Italian movie scorer Piero Umbiliani. The music here composed and recorded for the movie Svenzia Inferno e Paradiso (1968) is in large part a slice of those times. "Trippy, very trippy," might be the colloquial 1968 description for the the disc's first four tunes, with "before their time" electronics, loopy organ work, a soaring vocal chorus sounding like Gregorian chants that include females in the choir, backed by electronic timpani and maybe a short circuiting amplifier, followed by a cool surf guitar groove. It's like 1968 Brian Wilson (of The Beach Boys, 'round about "Good Vibrations" time) at his weirdest, melded with Dick Dale with the Doors' Ray Manzarek.
From there the music shifts into a surprisingly modern-sounding, rock-inflected organ trio mode for four tunes.
Then things get weird, with a pair of songs that sound like Mel Torme scatting after major dental surgery on "Viva La Sauna Svedese" and "Birra, Vermouth e Gin," the former which morphed later into"Mah-Na Mah-Na/The Muppet Show's Song," an unlikely cult hit if ever there was one, and probably Umiliani's most famous tune.
It's on some beautiful orchestral work on "Notte Di Mezza Estate," then an organ trio with added vibes on "Folk Song,"and a loping-across-the-prairie organ trio "Cowboy Song."
Not at all you garden variety recording—music that is strange, trippy and a kick to listen to. 1968: it was a very good year