Opensight – a band whose particular brand of Metal verges closely on the cinematic. Their Mondo Fiction album appeared back in February 2022, dressing up their songs with elements associated with vintage film conventions. Indeed, Mondo Fiction climaxes with their cover of the theme from the Bond classic, Thunderball. It’s maybe no surprise that singer/guitarist Ivan Amaya, who’s kindly joined us At The Barrier, has chosen to tell us why he loves Ennio Morricone.
The most exciting thing about loving Ennio Morricone is that I am still getting to discover his Music. His body of work is so vast and so varied that there is always a new theme to discover, another memorable piece waiting to be unveiled. Another iconic melody that I will fall in love with.
I don’t remember the first time I heard a piece of Music by Morricone. I am sure that everyone has experienced his Music and no one would remember when they first heard it. Talk to the person next to you and hum for them the main theme of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. They will surely tell you they are familiar with that melody. They must have heard it somewhere. It is part of our Pop Culture DNA in a strong way. So intrinsic to us, that it feels like people were born knowing that particular melody by heart.
I do remember the first time I was aware of Morricone’s Music. Sitting down at my parents’ living room as a kid, while my dad was playing the score to a western from his vinyl collection, trying to share his excitement with me about these sounds. And me being characteristically defiant in this scenario, because it sounded old and dated to me. What really got me excited then was Rock Music, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal in particular. Which to be honest, still gets my blood pumping and it is indeed the type of Music my band Opensight plays (despite any cinematic or film Music aspirations we have). My younger self had a defiant attitude externally, but in reality, my eyes were distant while listening to the Music. I was beholding huge vistas that were appearing in my imagination. Vast landscapes of beautiful but gritty sunbathed deserts and mountains were being triggered in my mind. There is no better indicator of a profound Musical experience than the moment when the sounds create images in one’s mind.
And I rediscovered Morricone years later. After my love for Metal Music made me absorb most of the sonic variations of the genre, from the traditional to the most abrasive, but always gravitating towards the sounds that triggered images in my mind. The epic works and sonic narrative of Progressive Metal bands like Opeth, the gritty atmosphere of raw Black Metal, the obvious nod to Film Music in songs by Faith No More, and so on. But I was yet to connect the dots. The secret was somewhere between Iron Maiden’s huge thematic songs, with galloping and references to films and literature, and Metallica’s epic compositions where it was not rare to hear some majestic acoustic passages. Old timers like my father would turn their heads when my Metal Music was playing and identify “Morricone-ish” qualities in stuff like the acoustic intro to Metallica’s Battery. And of course, metalheads are familiar with the intro that they use to open all of their shows, a piece of music that I feel is perfect in every way. Morricone’s The Ecstasy Of Gold off The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
And it was The Good, The Bad and The Ugly that cemented my love for Morricone. I was captured by the score before even watching the film, but once I watched it, it felt like a revelation. The fact that the images were filmed to accommodate and serve the Music was a novelty, and it made the already powerful sense of drama even more grandiloquent. Whenever a friend asks me about my top 3 favourite films I always joke and say that my favourite 3 films are: 1. The Good 2. The Bad and 3. The Ugly. It is too difficult to come up with a top list of all-time favourite films but The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly would be up there at the top for sure. And this is mainly because of the music, which becomes a visual element in a certain way.
Having creative freedom is one of the most valuable lessons that I extracted from the Morricone experience. Evident in his Musique Concrète approach and the fact that Film Music can be anything: It can be any genre, you can use any instruments and also any noise or sound. You start dreaming beyond the band format and think “Maybe that part would be better if it was a flute… or vibes… or maybe add a jaw harp!”, and all of a sudden you say “Let’s also add whip cracks, bells and whistling!!”. Nowadays the tools are there if you want to add whatever you think will work. However, you have to know how to cook a proper dish and pay attention to the ingredients you use, as opposed to just mixing random ingredients in a pot or a blender just to force something innovative or different. Ennio Morricone was free to experiment, but he was also rigorous. He knew what he wanted. He was free but also had a strong sense of direction.
I was very fortunate to see Ennio Morricone conducting live at the O2 Arena in London. I have seen many concerts in that place that have marked me deeply, but Morricone’s performance stood out as a display of passion and true devotion to Music. His tour was a celebration of his 90th birthday, and his level of excitement and energy was such that I was affected deeply by the whole experience. At some point during the show, I was feeling my throat getting dry and realised I’d been watching with my mouth open and my jaw dropped in awe all that time. The experience was hypnotic. He had two very talented ladies singing that night, who at some point said goodbye to the audience and went backstage to give way to the instrumental pieces that would close the concert. After the set Ennio went to the side of the stage, filled with enthusiasm, and called them back to reprise some of his most iconic pieces for the audience. His passion was latent, he was visibly serving Music and he gave his all.
That night I got an Ennio Morricone T-Shirt. I wear it when I play live and when I hang out at Rock and Metal shows. Morricone Rocks! He didn’t die. He lives forever through his music.
Our thanks to Ivan – and we certainly agree with him about The Ecstacy Of Gold as THE perfect overture to a Metallica show!
Here’s In Here With Us with its suitably stylish trailer video:
You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.