Ecce Homo

Ennio Morricone

" five instruments play the same four pitches in a twelve-tone row "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Ennio Morricone scored a deficient number of science fiction films, including only two of the post-apocalyptic type; Holocaust 2000 and Ecce Homo (aka I Sopravvissuti, Behold Man - The Survivors). The film is set on a deserted island and focuses on the tension between the last five people on earth, having survived a nuclear blast. It is quite a hopeless vision on humanity, in which each character stands for something different. The only remaining woman becomes the symbol for reproduction, but she as well as the adult male characters show characteristics that were likely the reason for this end of days; rather primitive traits that allow for great sexual tension.

The score uses an idea, which is often seen as an experiment, while I'd rather call it a conceptual idea. It involves five instruments, the flute, the voice of Edda Dell'Orso (an eerie siren), percussion, viola and harp, that play the same four pitches in a twelve-tone row, disregarding the dissonance it usually contains. Each instrument appeals to a different character, which conceptually is rather a splendid idea, Strictly speaking, Morricone does not even stand by this concept entirely; percussion is represented by three different instruments, including the marimba and vibraphone and he employs an occasional fifth pitch.

It does sound distinctive and coherent but is rather monotone because of these four endlessly repeated pitches, yet it requires a different mindset to appreciate it. It's actually quite a nice soundscape with a tense undercurrent, which makes it rather intriguing. Everything is there for dramatic purposes, which is something that in a separate listening experience is not so evident, as the music is very abstract and conceptual. For example, Edda's voice is like a beautiful siren for the woman and yet her voice also produces an eerie sound that alludes to the woman's change into a primitive individual.

Ennio Morricone was 'notorious' for a lot of music that was less accessible, in many ways. Some of it I have become to love, his experimental and suspense music especially, by now the thing I love the most. On a personal level, the most challenging music of Morricone is usually not the most difficult, but to me is something I cannot bear; some traditionally scored works (one theme only scores mostly), his infamous organ score to Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte, some fluffy romantic works, especially whenever it involves the harpsichord.... As film music, no Morricone sounds like Ecce Homo, yet some of his other works, especially his 'musica di camera', is kind of similar.

Ecce Homo is a score released in all shapes and forms. First, there's a 14.35 suite, which I think is a fine representation of the score and also the best possible introduction, even though I would not recommend the score to anyone. As a separate listening experience, it is easy to lose interest, even to me. However, to someone who moderately likes the score, the full score by GDM is simply too much to cope with, as is the shorter 49 minutes release by Dagored, both including the suite. I believe the suite or a sparse personal selection suffices.

1. Venuta dal mare (Titoli - I) (02:06)
2. Venuta dal mare (II) (01:48)
3. Venuta dal mare (III) (02:20)
4. Venuta dal mare (IV) (01:13)
5. Venuta dal mare (V) (01:05)
6. Venuta dal mare (VI) (01:51)
7. Venuta dal mare (VII) (01:16)
8. Venuta dal mare (VIII) (01:08)
9. Venuta dal mare (IX) (02:00)
10. Venuta dal mare (X) (01:28)
11. Venuta dal mare (XI) (02:01)
12. Venuta dal mare (XII) (03:58)
13. Venuta dal mare (XIII) (02:08)
14. Venuta dal mare (XIV) (01:09)
15. Venuta dal mare (XV) (03:13)
16. Venuta dal mare (Finale - XVI) (04:19)
1-16: Original tracks in stereo
17. Venuta dal mare (XVII) (03:15)
18. Venuta dal mare (XVIII) (05:19)
19. Venuta dal mare (XIX) (03:05)
20. Venuta dal mare (XX) (02:17)
21. Venuta dal mare (XXI) (01:21)
17-21: Bonus tracks in stereo
22. Venuta dal mare (Suite) (14:33)
22: Versione concerto in mono

Total Duration: 01:02:53
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Released by

GDM (regular release 2009)