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Musicaelettronica vol. 1

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Album Review

Although most of his work straddled the gap between jazz and lounge, prolific Italian composer Piero Umiliani also had a yen for electronic music. A solid cross section of his experiments in this genre is captured on Musica Elettronica, Vol. 1, a typically generous Easy Tempo compilation that covers electronic-oriented tunes that Umiliani recorded between 1969 and 1981. Much of the selections presented here favor experimentation over melody and pop hooks; for example, "Motore a Loni" creates a musical interpretation of an automobile through relentlessly percolating keyboard riffs, and "Officina Stellare" layers atonal tape loops over a drum machine sound that is sped up and slowed down to match the tape loops. However, a few melodic gems shine through: "Centrali Termiche" layers spacey synth riffs over a mellow rhythm section groove to create a space-age lounge instrumental worthy of Air, and "Arabian Synthesizer" layers an Arabian-styled keyboard melody over some watery-sounding drum machine loops. A few tunes also have Umiliani applying electronic trickery to classic tunes; the most notable example in this area is a wild version of the jazz classic "Caravan," which starts with a rapid fire burst of synthesizer blips before transforming into a frantic jazz version of the song that seamlessly integrates the synth effects into its surprisingly funky groove. Ultimately, Musica Elettronica, Vol. 1 leans too heavily toward pure experimentation to be accessible to the casual listener, but it is an essential listen for hardcore Piero Umiliani fans and anyone interested in early electronica. ~ Donald A. Guarisco, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1926 in Florence, Italy

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Along with composers Piero Piccioni, Riz Ortolani, and Armando Sciascia, Piero Umiliani is one of the unsung heroes of soundtrack music. Incorporating styles like jazz, easy listening/lounge, rock, funk, and bossa nova to a genre largely dominated by orchestral scores, he penned some of the most outstanding film music from the '60s and '70s with over 150 titles under his belt. Born in Florence in 1926, his interest in music sprang from a very early age, leading to his enrollment in the conservatory...
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Musicaelettronica vol. 1, Piero Umiliani
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