Il Gatto a Nove Code

Ennio Morricone

" music that alludes to the subconscious pains and fears "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Ennio Morricone has written influential works for Italian Giallos, including the important Un Tranquillo Posto di Campagna, L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo and Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura. L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo was the first of the Argento Animal Trilogy, followed by Il Gatto a Nove Code (The Cat o' Nine Tails, 1971) and 4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet,1972), all aided by wonderful scores of the composer. Due to a dispute with the producer of these films, the father Dario, who felt all the music of the trilogy sounded the same, Morricone wasn't asked for other films, replaced by other excellent composers such as Golbin, Pino Donaggio and Giorgini Gaslin. However, it wasn't until La Sindrome di Stendhal (1996) and Il Fantasma dell'Opera (1998) he was reunited with Dario Argento.

Even though the plot is mediocre, it's the director's visualization that makes Il Gatto a Nove Code such a memorable film. It includes excellent tension-building, a fine portrayal of the subconscious fears, overall gorgeous cinematography and a brilliant score. Also, the film includes someone whistling the melody from L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo. It only happens once, luckily, unlike the enfant terrible of whistling; the compulsive whistling detective in La Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna, also incorporated in Morricone's score.

Il Gatto a Nove Code offers no melodic sweetness, only one expressive cue called Ninna Nanna in Blu (titoli), which is semi-sweet and mournful. Music releases include an alternate track, unused in the film. In that regard, the score ties in with the Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura and La Sindrome Di Stendhal. The first is more chaotic, the second less experimental, but providing a very similar hypnotic nightmarish tone, yet both are as consistent in tone as Il Gatto a Nove Code.

Morricone builds the score around a slightly familiar, comprising jazz-influenced bass guitar, a five-note motive that along with drums provides the narrative, a rhythmic motif that is expanded upon with takes with a great deal of more notes. The composer adds numerous instruments, techniques and sounds: strings, high-pitched organs, eerie woodwinds, piano, ghostly voices, (electric)guitar, synths, tremolo, distortions, screeching sounds, dissonant clusters, small signature phrases. It sounds quite diverse, but in reality, the heartbeat of the score consists of repetitive textural ideas. However, there's always something, as small as a musical accent, that keeps the music intriguing. I do find the overall score slightly underwhelming, even light in terms of experiments, especially compared to the more challenging dissonant music by Morricone. Still, it's magnificent textural music, music that alludes to the subconscious pains and fears, which enhances the nightmarish feel of the film utterly sufficient. Morricone wrote a terrifying, hallucinate score that I consider one of his best.

A textural approach warrants appreciation as a singular experience, which omits the idea of highlighting individual moments worth highlighting. In terms of releases, these include some music unused in the film, while also excluding some music unreleased, as heard in the film. If I have to mention a cue, ´1970´ is the highlight of the unused material, with a very interesting interplay between both the ghostly and slightly quirky tatata vocals. It helps to further appreciate the score. Morricone's suite is representing the score really well. Neither the Dagored nor the GDM cd release is entirely fulfilling, but the GDM gives the broadest view of the overall score, while the Dagored is the best possible separate listening experience, only overruled by the experience as heard in the context of the film.

Tracklist (Dagored cd, 2000)
1. Ninna Nanna in Blu (titoli) (02:37)
2. 1970 (08:38)
3. Sottintesi (02:19)
4. Parabola del Paradosso (02:56)
5. Paranoia Prima (03:23)
6. Paranoia Seconda (01:30)
7. Dissociazione (02:45)
8. Dissociazione Seconda (03:02)
9. Passeggiata Notturna (movie version) (05:39)
10. Metafora Finale (02:31)
11. Placcaggio (02:33)
12. Passeggiata Notturna (original single version) (03:39)
Bonus Tracks - Previously Unreleased:
13. Placcaggio (alternate version) (02:32)
14. Il Gatto a Nove Code (movie takes suite) (12:36)
15. Ninna Nanna in Blu (movie takes variations) (02:50)
Total Duration: 00:59:30

Tracklist (GDM cd, 2006)
1. Ninna nanna in blu (titoli) (02:36)
2. 1970 (08:38)
3. Sottintesi (02:18)
4. Parabola del paradosso (02:54)
5. Paranoia prima (03:20)
6. Paranoia seconda (01:28)
7. Dissociazione (02:42)
8. Dissociazione seconda (02:58)
9. Passeggiata notturna (film version) (05:37)
10. Metafora finale (02:30)
11. Placcaggio (02:33)
12. Passeggiata notturna (alternate version) (03:38)
13. Placcaggio (alternate version) (02:32)
14. Il gatto a nove code (12:30)
15. Ninna nanna in blu (#2) (02:47)
16. Placcaggio (original single version) (03:19)
17. Il gatto a nove code (#2) (05:24)
18. Dario Argento speaks! (05:49)
Special Bonus Track, intervistato da Claudio Fuiano
Total Duration: 01:13:33


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(total of 4 votes - average 4.5/5)

Released by

Dagored (regular release 2000)