Thursday, July 23, 2009

Music Library: Ennio Morricone, Epic Soundtracks, Eric Dolphy, Eric Matthews, Eric McFadden, Erik Satie

Ennio Morricone - The Legendary Italian Westerns (1964-1969), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966), and A Fistful of Morricone (compilation, dates unknown). The first compiles Morricone's music to a number of Spaghetti Westerns from the 60s, including A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and Once Upon A Time In The West, but excluding The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, so it's good that I have that soundtrack, too. The compilation was made by a friend, and boy howdy, do I dislike some of the music on it. His theme for The Battle of Algiers is fantastic, but when Joan Baez starts singing over one of the later tracks, it's lost me. Most of the other music is from movies in the later 70s and on into the 80s, and it simply doesn't move me. There's a tendency to fall back on Euro-pop that doesn't sit well with me. But the Western soundtracks are aces.

Epic Soundtracks - Rise Above (1993). Originally one of the Swell Maps (along with his brother, known as Nikki Sudden), the man who called himself Epic Soundtracks made albums of mostly quiet piano ballads built around the music of the Beatles and more experimental Beach Boys (and the font on this album deliberately recalls the cover of Pet Sounds). This is a lovely and sad album. Only one track has any snarl to it, but otherwise, it's all orchestral pop built around piano songs, a la The Beach Boys' "Surf's Up." Soundtracks made three albums before dying suddenly of unknown causes in 1997. I used to have a copy of his third one, too, but I seem to have lost it. I should pick up the rest, though, because I remember liking it as much as I like this one. There's a posthumous album, too, which his brother built around demos Soundtracks had made for a fourth album. Haven't heard it, but I should.

Eric Dolphy - Out To Lunch (1964). Dolphy's last and greatest album before he, too, died too young. This is a free-jazz masterpiece. Featuring a very young Tony Williams on drums.

Eric Matthews - It's Heavy In Here (1995), The Lateness of the Hour (1997), "Lonely Sea," third album demos (early 00s), Six Kinds of Passion Looking For An Exit (2005), Foundation Sounds (2006), Limited Edition EP (2006), "Needle In The Hay," and The Imagination Stage (2008). Eric Matthews is a freaking brilliant singer/songwriter/arranger in the style of Brian Wilson, albeit with more of an indie-pop feel. In the early 90s, he was 1/2 of the brief-lived chamber-pop group Cardinal with the exceptionally brilliant (and much missed, at least by me) Richard Davies. His first two solo albums were on Sub Pop, and both are an extraordinary melding of post-punk sensibility with the kind of 60s chamber-pop of Brian Wilson at his most ornate, Scott Walker, the Left Banke, or Lee Hazlewood. "Lonely Sea" is from a 2000 tribute album and is utterly gorgeous, taking an early 60s Beach Boys song and giving it the treatment of the late 60s BBs. The demos were traveling around the Internet in the early 00s, and I eagerly snatched them off of a blog, as at that point Matthews hadn't put out an album for some 6-7 years, and I was concerned. However, he signed to Empyrean Records shortly afterwards, and many of these songs turned up on the next two Matthews albums. Since the versions on actual releases are mastered to sound better, I should probably just delete the "demos," which are pretty much the completed - albeit unmastered - versions of the songs. Six Kinds of Passion and Foundation Sounds (plus the bonus EP) have more of a rock feel than the Sub Pop albums. They weren't bad albums - actually, they're quite good - but they felt like a compromise between Matthew's lush vision and the resources at hand. Matthews's cover of Elliott Smith's "Needle in the Hay" is rather awesome, I think. The Imagination Stage was a return to the lushness of the Sub Pop albums, and while I wasn't overwhelmed with it at first, it grew on me quite a bit over time. Unfortunately, as I learned when I friended him on Facebook (and was unfriended rather suddenly following his discovery that I was an Obama-supporter), Matthews has a rather mercurial personality, and he has apparently ended his contract with Empyrean Records with some acrimony, despite having another album ready to release. Regardless, he's a seriously talented guy, and he deserves a larger audience.

Eric McFadden - "Voodoo Lady." Don't know anything at all about McFadden's other music. This is a blues thing with fast guitar runs.

Erik Satie - The Best of Erik Satie (2000). A cheapo release on the Naxos label, I'm not even sure who the musicians are on any given track of this CD. But it's fine that the attention is given the composer, as this is attempt to present Satie for the before-his-time populist he was. Most of the tracks are performed on solo piano and could pass for modern ambient or new age music or movie soundtracks (which many of these have served as), although the first three, the Gymnopédies, will also close the album in orchestral form.


My photo
Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

About This Blog

From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP