Photo by Fabio Meschini
What’s happened to Rome? Thirty years ago, the Italian capital was the only place to be if you wanted in on psychedelic horror flicks and schlocky b-movie violence. Directors like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Fernando Di Leo took the Hitchcock pyscho-spook template and cranked it out of all proportion, creating some of slasher cinema’s most memorable scenes. Not only that, you also had adventurous Italian composers like Nico Fidenco and Piero Piccioni scoring these vicious flicks, while Claudio Simonetti’s prog outfit Goblin became Argento’s house band, enhancing classics such as Tenebrae and Suspiria with high-tension soundtracks. This was the last great Italian cultural movement.
“Now we don’t have a real underground movement in Italy. It’s not good,” says Roman producer and DJ Francisco De Bellis who, along with his music-making pals Marco Passarani and Mario Pierro from the Nature and Pigna labels, is hugely influenced by Rome’s experimental 70s. Francisco’s playful debut album, Music Business, updates the frisky Italo-disco style of the 80s, mixing it with flexi-techno and smacky synths. With Mario, he’s also in Jolly Music and Mat 101, groups that owe plenty to dudes like Simonetti and Fidenco. A few years back they released singles called “Goblin” and “Haunted House” and put out a freaky track called “Ambush” that samples a Di Leo “Violenta” film. Do you sense a theme?
Vice: Where would you be without Goblin, eh?
Francisco: When I listen to the records from Goblin, I remember the atmosphere in my city. It’s strange but I remember it like this, I remember the neighbourhood with different people, small clubs playing rock and psychedelic music. I was younger in the 70s ’cos I am from 1975, but Rome used to be like this. Now it’s totally different, too expensive.
Doesn’t Argento own a horror shop in Rome?
Yes but it’s too expensive. I think its not for Roman people, it’s for tourists. But if you pay 5 euros you can visit the museum of Argento which is really fun, with scary sounds and scenes from the movies. And the man that works in the shop was a director from Roman b-movies and he is a friend of Dario Argento. It’s really good.
Music Business is out in November on Nature. Pigna People’s Let ’Em Talk is out then on Pigna.