Cyclic Selects: James Pianta


This month we’ve asked James Pianta vinyl fanatic and obscure music lover to take us on a journey through one of his passions, Italian library music. Pianta is responsible for releasing some of the strangest most beautifully obscure music around via his vinyl reissue labels, the likes of Votary, Dual Planet, The Roundtable (a label he co curates), and the recently formed Monster Planet, which is an endeavour with Finders Keepers Andy Votel.

Votary began as a means to release the Inner Space soundtrack by legendary Australian composer Sven Libaek and Eastern Horizons by The Charlie Munro Quartet, but has since evolved into a label solely focusing on archiving the music of Sven Libaek. The initial concept behind The Roundtable was to get together a collective of like minded collectors to re-discover an release a bunch of rare and unreleased Australian Psych recordings. Dual Planet‘ focus is electronic music, old and new. And his latest project Monster Skies, is a collaborative label curated with the assistance of Andy Votel from Finders Keepers in the UK.

“All of the labels basically represent the same endeavour,” he offers, “a platform in which amazing music, whether it’s previously unreleased or long forgotten can have the another opportunity to be enjoyed again. I guess there’s an archival goal behind it all but it’s also an opportunity to make the music I personally want to hear available again!”

“Discovering Italian library music is really just a continuation of being interested in the easier to find library music from other countries. A lot of the English, French and German libraries can be found in Australia so there are opportunities to discover and research that stuff but the Italian stuff is quite rare here. So I guess it’s the allure of the mysterious and unknown that first got me interested. It became a passion as it is of course closely associated with Italian film music. Library represents that rarer side of soundtrack collecting so once you learn that there’s more Morricone music outside the known soundtracks and that it can only be found on rare library records pressed in very limited quantities then it’s easy to get hooked tracking it all down..!”

“Considered by many as the last frontier of record collecting, discovering library music is entering into an incredibly intriguing world of unknown and phenomenally rich music. During its golden age from the 1960s through to the 1980s, a multitude of recordings from different publishing companies was produced with the potential to be used as background music for the film industry, television and radio broadcasting and advertising.”

“Production” “stock” or “background music” as it’s sometimes known, library music represents an incredibly broad range of genres, from the very best Modern jazz to the pioneers of electronic music, from Orchestral Music to Musique Concrete, proto techno and beyond…library music covered it all.”

“As library music was only available to production houses it was not commercially available to the public so the LPs are usually quite rare to find, and at the end of the scale, there is Italian library music, the most mythical, experimental, and soulful recordings of all countries producing library music (English, French and German) coming a close second.
While there’ too many fantastic Italian library LPs to limit the selection to a definitive “Top 10′, this chart does reflect a choice of mind-blowing micro press Italian LPs among the best of the genre. “


1. Alessandro Alessandroni, Bruno Nicolai, Giovanni Tommaso – Rebus.
Label – Sermi

Anyone exploring Italian library music should be aware of two great labels, Gemelli and the associated imprint Sermi. These labels released a series of amazing library music and cult soundtrack recordings during the 1970s including many of Bruno Nicolai’ scores to cult Italian sexploitation, horror and Mondo films, as well as the phenomenal output of experimental composer Egisto Macchi. Represented here we have a various artist album titled Rebus, a selection of very dark psychedelic thriller themes suitable for soundtracking a “Giallo’ style film. With a bit of research I’m sure these tracks could be identified as the score to an Italian crime or horror exploitation film(s). Most of the Gemelli and Sermi LPs are housed in extra thick sleeves with stunning graphic design making them a choice object for collectors. Another album on the Sermi label worthy of attention is the amazingly beautiful recording, Prisma Sonoro by Alessandro Alessandroni.


2. Giuliano Sorgini – Informale 3 (Lupus)

Probably most well known for his score to the 70s Horror film, The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue; Sorgini LPs are possibly the most sought after recordings for Italian library music collectors. His LPs cover the heaviest Hammond psych, to the weirdest exotica to the outer reaches of abstract experimentation. This LP this is one of those abstract records, an incredibly complex album of cerebral electronics and dissonant tape manipulation. Also in this vein his is amazing Scienza & Technoglia LP, in which he composes under the pseudonym “Raskovich’.


3. Alex Serra – Atmosfere (Iller)

Quite an elusive album issued on the obscure Iller label from Rome. I don’ know much about Serra except that he was a jazzman who worked as a session player for various Italian jazz labels. I believe he was a drummer. Atmosfere is an incredible incidental set of hypnotic tribal and psychedelic-baroque mood music. Sometimes reminding me of the German composers Siegfried Schwab and Manfred Hubler’ score to Jess Franco’ legendary cult film, Vampyros Lesbos. The music is very similar to Piero Umiliani’ trilogy of superb erotic-exotic scores, Il Corpo, La Ragazza Fuoristrada and La Ragazza Dalla Pelle Di Luna.


4. Oronzo De Filippi. – Meccanizzazione (Leo)

Oronzo is an alternate name for Rino De Filippi, a composer responsible for many brilliant and diverse Italian library LPs. This LP on the collectable Leo label is a very unique and amazingly contemporary sounding recording. A common theme in library music was “industry’, conceptual music with impressionistic sounds representing factories or industrial machines. Here it is shown to striking effect as superb modern Jazz rhythms meet repetitive and hypnotic experimental bossa patterns, sometimes processed through electronic effects. I have a strong feeling the folks from Stereolab had come across the LP at some point.


5. Piero Umilaini – Percussioni Ed Effetti Speciali (Sound Workshop)

You couldn’ have an Italian library list and not include the legendary Italian musician Piero Umiliani. The composer responsible for a seemingly endless amount of recordings composing under various alias’ across all genres of music, most notably modern jazz and soundtracks as well as his more experimental recordings released on several of his own fascinating library imprints. Included here is one of his most interesting library recordings. Unique to library music as it a double LP record, it is four sides of tinkering analogue electronics and experimental percussion. Quite a lot to take in but an extremely rewarding record nonetheless. This album can actually be found easier in two separate editions on the French library label St Germain De Pres.


6. A.R Luciani – Ambiente e Musica (Vroommm)

While composers like Sorgini and Umiliani usually get all the focus when discussing obscure Italian library LPs, there’ another unsung composer that is really in need of close attention. The versatile A.R Luciani composed for various labels covering a broad range of styles. One of his many interesting LPs is Ambiente E Musicia. A very cool set of pastoral Avant Garde and otherwordly electronics. A superb LP issued on the collectable “Vroommm’ label.


7. Bruno Nicolai – Tutti I Colori Buio (Gemelli)

One of the most prolific and respected Italian composers, Nicolai’ name is usually mentioned alongside his famous composing partner Ennio Morricone, as he was responsible for the orchestrations on many spaghetti westerns and other Morricone scores. A brilliant composer in his own right, Nicolai’ own oeuvre is much broader and deeper than just the Morricone association. Represented here is one of his greatest scores, the mind bending Horror-psychedelic soundtrack from the Giallo film, All the Colours Of The Dark. Arguably this may not be considered “Library’ but rather a soundtrack, although as it was issued on the legendary Gemelli imprint I feel it justified making the list.


8. Silvano Chimenti & Nello Ciangherotti – Senzazioni N. 1 (Globe Records)

Here’ an obscure record that seldom appears for sale. A collection of experimental themes composed by some lesser-known Italian musicians such as Silvano Chimenti and Nello Ciangherotti. Stylistically, the compositions are a kaleidoscopic set of delirious psychedelic music. One tracks even is reminiscent of legendary British experimental composer Basil Kirchin (c. Abstractions Of The Industrial North!) A brilliant and largely undocumented Italian library record worthy of seeking out.


9. Luigi Zito/Vittorio Nadalin – Brani Vari Per Sonorazzione (Ediphon)

The fascinating thing about library is that due to the music being specifically created for the purpose of film/TV production and advertising, it gave musicians the freedom to experiment ignoring any reasons to conform strictly to commercial trends, so what you get is professional musicans, whether it be jazz musicians or classically trained composers experimenting to the upmost, often resulting in some very peculiar and genre defying music. Here we have jazzers Luigi Zito and Vittorio Nadalin laying down some superb although seemingly straight modernist/modal jazz rhythms yet the tracks feature a heavily processed organ sound giving a lysergic psychedelic feel to the tracks. Killer record!


10. Teisco – Tuscan Castle & Country Seat (Alto Music/Ciclamino)

One of the strangest library records out there. This recording differs from the usual high professionalism of library records in that composer Teisco (Marco Melchiori) was actually quite young when he recorded it. His mother who owned the library label gave young Teisco the opportunity to have his bedroom compositions released. While he actually studied under Maestro AR Luciani (See above) his music and recording skills were still developing (in the professional sense) but what we get is an absolute monster DIY record more akin to the Velvet Underground than your traditional stock music. Mindblowing outsider electronic library-punk.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.