Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ennio Morricone / Crime & Dissonance / Rating 8.0

melodramatic church organ pieces and free jazz to wah-drenched psychedelia, stiff funk, and abstract avant-gardism

Ipecac might be onto something by choosing to release cds where the artwork is as integral to the release as the music is. What immediately comes to mind is the Fantomas’ Suspended Animation cd which came packaged in a 30 page spiral bound book / calendar illustrated by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara but in truth every single release they press has unusually high quality art and or packaging. The Ennio Morricone Crime and Dissonance cd carries this high art tradition and while I know PFM opts to focus on the music in their reviews; the cd booklet is too beautiful not to mention. In fairness not all advance copies / promo cds come with the finished art so perhaps PFM was not fortunate enough to see the fantastic final product. (Let this be a lesson to you label folks, if your cd has great packaging send music journalist the final goods!)

The booklet features 12 pages of full color art, sexy glorious stills from the movies the songs on this disc partner up with. The glossy thick paper smells like those 1970’s vinyl peel and stick decals and if psychedelic images steeped in sex and violence don’t do it for you I think the paper has an acceptable amount of sheen capable of housing modern day puffy and scratch and sniff sticker collections.

In an increasing digital world it is becoming harder and harder to convince music fans, especially the under 25 set that a clunky cd or lp is worth the money and anti space saving hassle. What then can a label do to turn this escalating negative attitude towards antiquated physical products around? They could create a cd or record so incredible, so one of a kind and worthy of taking up space in a home, office, or car that a consumer feels obligated to buy it.

We have all seen labels take steps in the past year or two to turn around the old fashioned cd. We have seen the birth of the double disc (be it a failed idea or not), the reissue enhanced cd with screensavers, pictures, bonus tracks, live cuts, and so on, the double cd with all the bonus material a fan could ever want, and last but not least, we have the limited edition pricey but eye candy decadent cover art with packaging to die for. The problem with any of the above things is it is expensive to produce, or in some cases reproduce if it is a title a label is releasing to bring new life otherwise drooping sales.

It is impossible to predict if plain and simple cd and vinyl releases will remain an active part of the music marketplace but with a label like Ipecac stepping up and transforming their catalog into genuine pieces of art, then perhaps customers will have a reason to keep buying them well into next decade. As a record collector I have my fingers and toes crossed. Besides what will the next generation of music collectors call themselves, computers?