Satanik: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album Review
Written by Richie Corelli
Released by Dagored Records
Composed by Roberto Pregadio & Romano Mussolini
Released on April 22nd, 2017
In the early 1960s, Satanik launched as a part of the fumetti neri comic genre; a series of Italian pulp noir stories, characterized by sex and violence. The Satanik books were loosely adapted to film and released in 1968. Unfortunately, the resulting movie was not good. Critically panned, Satanik is a sloppy and awkward release. The acting is robotic. The script and dialogue is unfocused and dull.
The soundtrack is the best part of the film, but it too has issues. For example, mixing is a problem throughout the album. Take "Sequence 12". The track suffers from its production. Over a bed of humming garage organs, a horn plays a sad melody. A guitar strums alongside the bass and drums, keeping time. The balance is off. The guitar is too loud, the organ too soft. On top of that, the actual sound is muddy. This is understandable, given the technological limitations of the time, but a contemporary remastering of these songs would have been a welcomed sonic improvement.
The main problem with Satanik, though, is songwriting and performance. The compositions are a little too generic. The recurring melody sounds a little too similar to the "James Bond Theme" by Monty Norman and/or John Barry (the actual authorship of that theme is disputed). Satanik echoes that Bond song, but without the punch, without the fiery energy. Every player has his or her own voice, but the instrumentation falls flat. There is no signature to this work. The players seem to be phoning it in. This is surprising because the album isn't without talent.
Roberto Pregadio and Romano Mussolini have both proven themselves to be gifted composers on other various projects. Pregadio had a prolific film score career, composing music for about fifty pictures. He'd write lively, groovy lounge. He'd write tense, thrilling pieces. He was a part of the team that composed the iconic western theme for The Forgotten Pistolero. The guy had skill. Romano Mussolini was the son of Italy's famous fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. It was a tough shadow to escape, but Romano Mussolini found his sunlight. He established his own name by earning critical acclaim as a pianist and jazz musician. He toured internationally and partnered with some of jazz's best known musicians.
Any collaboration between Pregadio and Mussolini should have, in theory, yielded sweeter fruit. And, indeed, Satanik does play host to some strong segments. "Sequence 2" slides in on soft guitar fuzz. A trumpet takes the front of the stage while a garage organ hums in the back. The guitar flashes small waves of distortion for effect. It works well. "Sequence 7' is a sparse, light piece until a saxophone blazes forward atop a tempo-change in the second half. "Sequence 8" shows a different side of the composers, showing off their diversity. It's a theatrical piece, taking a more traditional route, playing to classic black-and-white horror soundtrack tropes. It's good. These moments of greatness only make the comparable weaker moments more frustrating because they highlight wasted potential and missed opportunities.
Dagored Records released this as a limited repress for Record Store Day 2017. The record itself is a transparent red vinyl. It matches the cover. A still shot from the film, an image of a masked woman with raised arms, is blown up and drenched in a red color filter. The woman is Magda Konopka, the actress who plays Dr. Marnie Bannister (aka Satanik). The packaging and artwork is simple, but it does the job. A masked character is always alluring.
The 1960s saw a vibrancy in space age pop; that jazzy, cool lounge that swung and grooved. Sexy and fun, it's the type of music for lit cigarettes and Vesper Martinis, shaken, not stirred. Satanik is a reflection of this sound. But there are other soundtracks, albums, and compilations that are similar and better. Overall, Satanik is recommended for collectors and completists, but not for the average listener.