PAURA: A Collection of Italian Horror Sounds From The CAM Sugar Archive
CAM Sugar / Distributed by Decca Records, a division of Universal
The Italian horror movie boom set the tone for many of the best moments in Hollywood’s slashers – and the music continues to inspire two generations of filmmakers; Quentin Tarantino might be the most obvious and first name you pick, but a great many directors and musical supervisors have trawled through music archives to find the right touch – and there are a lot of composers (Miles Hankins, Marco Beltrami, Trevor Gureckis, Chris Benstead, Kristian Eidnes Andersen, to name but a few) making music for modern thrillers and horrors that have been influenced by the dramatic flair and arranging nous of the many great composers and producers that helped to make Italian horror’s scariest moments so damn frightening.
Here, across a double album we have some absolute gems. We begin with Morricone, which is much like me naming Tarantino – Morricone is the obvious place to start. But he’s followed many other key players, the likes of Daniele Patucchi, Stelvio Cipriani and Bruno Nicolai. Searing strings layered over drum-grooves that come from funk and were often used by the likes of Lalo Schifrin in big-budget Hollywood fare (if not fear). Surprising twists, as piano melodies appear from nowhere, as strings cling to the sides of short cues to add maximum devastation.
This is a wild ride, and there’s such huge emotional impact to some of the cues here, most of them around two minutes in length, max.
Childlike melodies, creepy nursery rhyme reveries, little snatches of synthesizer and foley-esque percussion, it all bubbles away across cuts from the late 50s through to the early 80s. This is when Italy was making the most frightening films in the genre – and the music was (as always with horror) a hugely important part of making the fear pulsate, of putting the worry and tension on the screen; of misleading audiences with gentle, serene music that lulled a false sense of security; laid a trap.
To hear the best of the music – divorced from the films – is to bask in the serene beauty of the finest melodic moments, to marvel at the production aesthetic and curl up in the charm of these musical world. An absolutely essential compilation. A must for film-heads of course. And for crate-digging types. But I reckon there’s something here for everyone. Mood music for so many different moods. And in 2021’s uncertain and restrictive times, this feels like a contemporary soundtrack. I mean that in only a good way. We must take solace where we can. I’m finding it right here in the tracks on this album.