Thursday, December 03, 2015

Il Nino: Satyricon Fluence

It's time to kick off the year's final month -- augured in by the El Niño that's pounding us with much-needed rain as I type this -- with a special edition birthday tribute to one of Joshy's main men.
You likely have no idea who the strange man behind the sheet music is, as he is not a big Rock star or Jazzbo and never played Madison Square Garden or the Village Vanguard. But he is another of the primary sonic architects of our lifetimes, especially those of us who are interested in film.
On this day long ago in 1911, a composer was born. He turned out to be one of the most prolific soundtrack artists of all time, with hundreds of scores under his belt in a career spanning from the 1940s to the end of the 1970s. If you've ever seen The Godfather's first two parts, or any of the films of Federico Fellini, you are intimately familiar with Nino Rota even if you've never heard his name.
There are so many films he worked on that are so important to me I almost can't recount them all. The Luchino Visconti ones, like Senso and Rocco and His Brothers, are epic and timeless. Obviously the Fellini films are sort of his calling card... I mean, 8 1/2 arguably changed the way films are scored, and there's no doubt that his music unifies many of the disparate and seemingly disconnected surreal imagery on display in all of Il Maestro's justifiably revered movies.
My personal favorite score of his, from my personal favorite Fellini film ever -- yes it's the weirdest of his output and is often referred to as the gayest film ever made -- is the subject of today's share to honor the man behind the music. I had been meaning to put it together for years until I finally did so in 2012 -- as complete a representation of the music used in the film as may ever exist in one place -- since the Quartet Records CD was released in 2011 featuring the original Fellini Satyricon OST LP from the original master tapes (long thought lost forever but thankfully since located in a Cinecittà warehouse in Rome). There had been a needledrop CD of it made from vinyl in the early 2000s, but this was the real thing and spurred me on to finally make it happen.
The real motherlode was a (huge, 10GB) file I got off a Russian tracker of an HDTV broadcast of the film from Italy, which featured lossless PCM mono sound. It sounded so good and so multidimensional (especially for a 40+-year-old film) that I decided to go through it and edit together cuts of sequences that featured music heavily, to try and give an idea of where the OST fits into the movie and to highlight a few musical moments contained in the film that were not featured on the original LP, reissued on CD by the Quartet label. 
Using Sound Forge 9 editing software, I made these into the "Satyricon Suite," included here as tracks 22-31 on CD1 and sequenced roughly in the order in which they appear in the movie. The "End Sequence" which follows (CD1, track 32) is also sourced from the HDTV broadcast and contains the music that overlaps the last shots of the film and the end credits -- essentially a longer, complete version of the classical guitar take on the central theme included on the original LP, which is CD1, track 07 here ("Mio Amato Gitone"). I think you'll find the sound of these tracks completely trumps the standard-issue DVD of the film, which is encoded at a lossy 192kpbs soundwise.
The gamelan material recorded in Bali by field archivist David Lewiston comes from the same 1969 album that Fellini used in the film... I tracked down a lossless rip of the (wayyyyyy out of print) CD from 1988. The vinyl-sourced material (all on CD2) was de-noised by me (Sound Forge 9 again) a pop and a click at a time, with as little effect to the music as possible (i.e., none)... Fellini used parts of these LPs throughout the soundtrack. The complete original LPs of both the Andrew Rudin and Tod Dockstader albums are included, as well as the Ilhan Mimaroglu tape pieces (if you know the movie, you'll recognize them immediately) used extensively by Fellini in the film. And of course, the Nino Rota portion is the star of the show.
Nino Rota/Federico Fellini
David Lewiston/Ilhan Mimaroglu/Andrew Rudin/Tod Dockstader
Fellini Satyricon
Ultimate OST (1969)

Nino Rota (1969)
01 Teatrino di Vernacchio (1:18)
02 Il Giardino Delle Delizie (0:50)
03 Notturni Nella Suburra (2:00)
04 La Schiaveta Innamorata (0:36)
05 La Cena Da Trimalcione (2:10)
06 Madeja' - Permimadeja' (2:34)
07 Mio Amato Gitone (0:51)
08 La Cena da Trimalcione (1:58)
09 Tema di Gitone (2:33)
10 Il Trionfo del Nuovo Cesare (0:20)
11 Encolpio E Ascilto Prigioneri (0:50)
12 Sulla Nave di Lica (1:26)
13 Le Nozze Sul Mare (0:42)
14 Il Fuoco Delle Vestali (0:29)
15 L'Oracolo Salmodiante (0:52)
16 Mi Ascolti Gitone? (0:53)
17 Storia Della Matrona di Efeso (0:34)
18 Encolpio Ha Perduto La Sua Spada (1:46)
19 Il Minotauro (1:33)
20 La Nuova Isola (1:28)
21 Fellini Satyricon (2:04)

Nino Rota & Federico Fellini (1969)
22 Satyricon Suite I (3:58)
23 Satyricon Suite II (4:47)
24 Satyricon Suite III (0:59)
25 Satyricon Suite IV (2:49)
26 Satyricon Suite V (0:57)
27 Satyricon Suite VI (1:00)
28 Satyricon Suite VII (2:20)
29 Satyricon Suite VIII (0:45)
30 Satyricon Suite IX (0:52)
31 Satyricon Suite X (0:46)

Nino Rota (1969)
32 Fellini Satyricon (end sequence) (2:41)

David Lewiston (1968)
33 Ketjak - Monkey Dance (excerpt) (4:21)
34 Ketjak - The Ramayana Monkey Chant (20:06)

Total time: 1:15:12

Ilhan Mimaroglu (1967)
01 Prelude II for Magnetic Tape (2:24)
02 Prelude XII for Magnetic Tape (2:34)

Andrew Rudin
Tragoedia (1968)
    03 Kouros (10:16)    
     04 Hybris (7:27)    
     05 Peitho (5:13)    
 06 Até     (15:00)

Tod Dockstader
Eight Electronic Pieces (1968)
      07 Piece #1 (2:01)    
      08 Piece #2 (3:06)    
      09 Piece #3 (4:12)    
      10 Piece #4 (2:31)    
     11 Piece #5 (4:32)    
     12 Piece #6 (3:09)    
 13 Piece #7 (8:01)
 14 Piece #8 (9:08)

Total time: 1:19:10

CD1, 01-20: "Fellini Satyricon/Fellini Roma" CD, Quartet QRSCE034
CD1, 21: "Fellini & Rota" CD, CAM CVS 900-045
CD1, 22-32: "Fellini Satyricon" High Definition Broadcast, Italian Television 2010
CD1, 33-34: David Lewiston, "Music from the Morning of the World: The Balinese Gamelan & Ketjak: The Ramayana Monkey Chant" CD, Elektra Nonesuch 979 196-2 

CD2, 01&02: Ilhan Mimaroglu, "Avant Garde Project: AGP30" FLAC download, * originally from: Luciano Berio, Jacob Druckman, Ilhan Mimaroglu, "Electronic Music III" LP, 1969 (Turnabout TV 34177S) 
CD2, 03-06: Andrew Rudin, "Tragoedia: A composition in four movements for electronic synthesiser" LP, Nonesuch H-71198 (FLAC download,
CD2, 07-14: Tod Dockstader, "Eight Electronic Pieces" CD, Folkways FW03434/SM 3434

2CD set compiled from above sources, with the Satyricon Suite constructed and the vinyl segments remastered by me
So, please enjoy this ultimate version of this most unusual and exquisite score (most agree that Rota's portion is the most out-there music he ever committed to tape) of a most unusual and exquisite film... I have always thought there was a quality to Satyricon that made it seem like it was somehow shot on location in Ancient Rome itself: a kind of surreal, time machine quality tremendously rare in art in general and cinema in particular. And of course, pay tribute to the sonic shaper who brought these bizarre and tremendously evocative sounds into the world: Nino Rota, who'd have been 104 years old today.--J.

12.3.1911 - 4.10.1979