From the moment Blabber’n’Smoke first heard Sacri Couri we were convinced that they were a very special band. They played a short set when backing Dan Stuart back in 2012 which we described as an “astounding palette of sounds that ranged from surf and Duane Eddy type guitar to Nino Rota cinematic whirls with Joe Meek electronica and superb percussion to take the audience on a trip through some weird places.”
Their album Rosario confirmed their wide range of influences and left no doubt that there is a “Sacri Cuori universe,” a strange and wonderful place where a cornucopia of delightful sounds coalesces to deliver a true Technicolor dream. Often described as purveyors of imaginary soundtracks (and very much influenced by the likes of Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone) Sacri Cuori actually delivered the soundtrack for a movie, Zoran, which won several European awards in 2014 and now we have Delone, an album that positively drips with aural delights and is indeed, as the press release claims, a kaleidoscopic road trip.
For an Italian band Sacri Cuori have long been associated with American music due to their association with the likes of Dan Stuart, Calexico, Richard Buckner and Giant Sand with their first album, Douglas and Dawn recorded in Tucson. Delone however sees them proudly reclaim their homeland with guitarist Antonio Gramentieri saying, “in every sound and feeling on the album, Italy is the heartbeat.” It’s an Italy that is viewed through the lens of Hollywood and Cinecitta, the Italy that was cool and hip in the sixties, land of Vespas, Gaggia, Mastrello Mastrianni and Virna Lisi. The band look to the music of Italian film composers, not only Rota and Morricone but lesser known artists such as Riz Ortolani, Armando Trovajoli and Piero Umiliani, composer of the song forever associated with the Muppets, Mah Na Mah Na. With a musical palette then that includes orchestral sweeps, funk, goofy humour and Euro pop they also toss in tango, surf music and a nod to the subversive pop genius of Serge Gainsbourg. Morricone’s spaghetti western whistling is married to the traditional sound of Secondo Casadei’s Romagna Mia and lit by a neon stream of vibrant Giallo colours.
Delone features Evan Lurie, Marc Ribot and Steve Shelley on additional instrumental duties while the vocals are handled by Howe Gelb (on Serge), Carla Lippis, an Italian diva they discovered in Australia and Emmanuelle Sigal with the songs variously in English French and Italian. The opening number, Bendigo is a turbo charged Mexican infused surftrash thrash that Quentin Tarantino really needs to hear. Delone, the song, tells the tale of the album’s anti hero, a man in the shadows , in a manner redolent of sixties spy thriller theme songs while Dancing (On The Other Side Of Town) is romance as danger, a David Lynch nightmare delivered with a deadpan sense of cool. With spoken word snippets between numbers, twanging guitars, deranged horns and fairground keyboards enlivening the instrumentals the entire album is a delight to listen to. It’s infectious, humorous and intelligent and marks Sacri Cuori as one of the coolest bands around.
p.s. watch the video below for a cameo appearance from Marlowe Billings, Toni Delone’s American friend.