We can safely say that some of the past Italian library music masterpieces will hardly reach the export levels of mainstream Italian pop music. However, there is no doubt that the recent rediscovery operation led by some record labels such as Schema, Sonor, Four Flies, Intervallo and many others, has helped to create a lively and passionate record collectors’ market where names such as Umiliani, Brugnolini, Torossi, Tommasi, Braen, Iacoucci, Alessandroni are the watchwords for entering a wonderful and relatively unknown musical territory.
It is probably better to avoid comparing library music to the world of movie soundtracks, even if most of the aforementioned names were working across both fields. A prestigious name like that of Ennio Morricone is the perfect example of someone involved both in library music and soundtracks – but his imprint is too established to give the idea of the purpose of Italian library music, which was mainly to add sonorization to television programs that were lacking visual substance.
For a great number of years these compositions were placed in artistic oblivion and only in recent times a group of enthusiasts around the world started sharing their passion for Italian library music. Among these enthusiasts the main character of this (our) story is Lorenzo Morresi, Italian producer, musician and DJ working between Milan and London where he collaborated with several artists from around the world. Driven by a strong passion for jazz, funk and disco, Lorenzo met Italian record producer and musician Luciano Cantone (aka ‘Le Isole’) many years ago. Luciano played Lorenzo some rare Italian library music gems that he was repressing; laying the first bricks of their mutual passion for this genre.
Soon after Lorenzo started producing music in that genre; combining jazz and funk grooves, Italian synth melodies and vintage electronic sounds. Last year, to much critical acclaim, he released the album ‘Cosmica Italiana’, made in collaboration with British multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne, and released via his record label 22a, one of the most respected contemporary jazz labels.
In March 2022 Lorenzo and Luciano started pre-producing ‘Pop Flop’ at Schema Records headquarters in Milan. Part of the album has also been produced at ‘Museo Del Synth Marchigiano & Italiano’, an incredible collection of rare Italian vintage synthesizers located in Le Marche region where Lorenzo was born. These Italian synthesizers (manufacturers such as Farfisa, Crumar and Elka) were very popular in the 1970s for library music and soundtracks, and they were also used outside of Italy by the likes of John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, Keith Emerson, Jean-Michel Jarre and Ray Manzarek from the Doors. As Morresi himself explains, “I tried as a form of respect and love to avoid an album that simply imitates those fifty year old masterpieces, so my idea has been to add contemporary musical elements and genres together with modern production techniques to create something original”.
Pop Flop has a warm, cinematic and philological feel; well balanced between tradition and innovation, fusing elements of funk, classical, acid jazz, afrobeat, trip hop – to name a few – and all whilst paying homage to those fantastic years.
The song titles sound like we’ve been transported back to 1972 in a time machine: “Odeon,” “Slalom,” “Savana Urbana”, “Beta Erotica”, “Allegro Funerario,” “Rio De Janeiro Filter,” and so on.
We are sure that masters like Umiliani, Tommasi and Brugnolini will be pleased with the end result and will undoubtedly be smiling down from the sky.