Monday, 18 May 2015

RED SHADOWS

From Rock Progressivo Italiano: An introduction to Italian Progressive Rock

Goblin were formed in Rome in 1974. The line-up on their debut album, released in 1975, featured Massimo Morante (guitar, vocals), Claudio Simonetti (keyboards), Fabio Pignatelli (bass) and Walter Martino (drums, percussion) who replaced the original drummer Carlo Bordini. All the members of the band had previously played in other acts such as Oliver, Il Ritratto di Dorian Gray and Seconda Generazione that never had the chance to record an album. The turning point of Goblin’s career was meeting film director Dario Argento who recruited them for the soundtrack of “Profondo rosso” (Deep Red), one of his most successful films.


Murders, blood, mystery but also music and humour are some of the ingredients of this extraordinary thriller that tells the story of an English musician, Marcus Daly (played by David Hemmings) who, after witnessing the murder of a famous psychic, gets involved in the crime investigations teaming up with a female reporter. Actually, the soundtrack was initially commissioned to Italian jazz musician Giorgio Gaslini but he didn’t fulfil his task (in that period he was involved in other projects) and the band managed to complete it in an excellent manner. The music perfectly fits the scenes on screen adding tension and rhythm to dialogues and images. Both film and score were extremely successful and the name of the band became indelibly associated with this thriller and its strong colours.


Both film and album begin with the notes of the dark, hypnotic title track, by far the best known Goblin piece. The album is completely instrumental but images can be even stronger than words... If you haven’t seen the film try to imagine a cradle tumbling down, a rag doll tortured with pins, some strange direful puppets, then marbles, knives and daggers, a single eye watching you... A face reflected in a pool of blood, deep red! “Sometimes what you really see and what you imagine getting mixed up in your memory like a cocktail and you can’t distinguish the different flavours anymore...” (1).


The next track “Death Dies” is more aggressive and is associated with scenes of murders in the film. Flashing blades and leather gloves in action, blood stains and gloomy puppets come to mind while the music flows nervous and tense... 
 
Mad Puppet” could recall Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” and it’s a perfect background for the exploration of a villa haunted by ghosts and dark memories or for a visit to a deserted school in the middle of the night while a psychopathic murderer is lurking...


Wild Session” begins with sound effects and the wind blowing. There is a presence... “I feel something like a blade entering my flesh...” (2). An evil thought is still hanging in the room when the rhythm takes off on the notes of a haunting piano pattern...

Deep Shadows” is disquieting and dark. It features peculiar percussive patterns and many changes in rhythm. Stop and listen, let your imagination drive you through a corridor full of mirrors and strange paintings... Then imagine climbing up the wall of a mysterious house looking for a missing window... It’s dark, you risk falling, be cautious while moving like a clumsy acrobat, there’s a threatening presence observing what you’re doing...


The last two tracks were composed by Giorgio Gaslini and feature orchestral arrangements. “School At Night” is a nursery rhyme that in the film is linked to the perverted mind of a serial killer. “Gianna” is light and romantic and in the film is associated to the character of female journalist Gianna Brezzi. A good way to conclude a 30 minute ride on the edge of folly.

Goblin’s debut album was not only successful but also very influential on the whole Italian music scene... A must for every Italian prog lover! By the way, the re-release on CD features unreleased tracks from the film score and from the sessions...

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(1) - (2): Words taken from a dialogue in the film