The vast Western landscapes soundtracked by Ennio Morricone during his singular career as a film composer are a long way from the bright lights of clubland. But the electronic music community certainly took influence from the enduring soundscapes of the iconic Italian composer.
Morricone, who passed away on Monday, July 6 at the age of 91, composed the scores of more than 500 films during his career, finally winning an Oscar for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 film The Hateful Eight. He also received Oscar nominations for his original scores for Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978), Roland Joffe’s The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (1991) and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena (2000).
Many of Morricone’s most enduring scores were made during the 1960s, when he composed the soundtracks to a run of “spaghetti westerns” directed by his lifelong friend, the Italian director Sergio Leone. Decades after the release of these flicks — particularly A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West — these soundtracks gave inspiration to artists spanning the wide spectrum of electronic music. On Twitter, producers including Massive Attack, Golfrapp and Jean-Michele Jarre also paid homage to the composer.
Here are eight electronic tracks that sample the late, great Ennio Morricone.
Amon Tobin, “Golfer vs. Boxer”
Tobin’s eerie, distorted “Golfer versus Boxer” — from his 2000 LP Supermodifed — picks up some of its piercing tones from Morricone’s “La Posada No. 1” (Hear the sample at the 3:27 mark of “Golfer versus Boxer.”) The original composition comes from Morricone’s monumental soundtrack to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time In the West, which was released in the U.S. on July 4, 1969 and has since been sampled and interpolated by everyone from Hans Zimmer to Paul Thomas Anderson to Bruce Springsteen.
Flying Lotus, “Turtles”
Flying Lotus’s 2014 concept album, You’re Dead!, was a critical favorite of the year. The album’s track “Turtles” samples Morricone’s “Piume Di Cristallo” from the soundtrack to the 1970 film The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, directed by iconic Italian filmmaker Dario Argento. Morricone’s mildly creepy, sing-song production is used generously throughout the FlyLo track, which adds a beat and a few other light digital flourishes.
Pierre Henry, “Psyche Rock” (Fatboy Slim Malpase Mix)
When Fatboy Slim dropped his edit of the iconic 1967 Pierre Henry production “Psyche Rock,” he dropped a hint of Morricone on it with a sample of the composer’s “Sixty Seconds to What,” taken from the soundtrack of 1965’s Clint Eastwood-starring western For a Few Dollars More. (Fun fact: Henry’s “Psyche Rock” was also a major influence on the theme song to the animated series Futurama.)
The Orb, “Little Fluffy Clouds”
Morricone’s Once Upon a Time In the West soundtrack also got some electronic scene love in 1991, when English electronic duo the The Orb sampled the eerie “L’uomo Dell’armonica” — “the man of the harmonica” — on “Little Fluffy Clouds”, the lead track on their classic debut LP, Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld.
The Prodigy, “The Big Gundown”
The Prodigy gave their 2009 track “The Big Gundown” the same name as the 1967 spaghetti western film from which is was sampled. The track appears on the expanded version of the group’s 2009 LP, Invaders Must Die.
Future Sound of London, “My Kingdom”
Morricone’s suspenseful, flute-centric “Cockeye’s Song” — from the 1984 Robert De Niro and James Wood flick Once Upon a Time In America — was woven throughout “My Kingdom,” the lead single from Future Sound of London’s 1996 ambient LP, Dead Cities.
Ennio Morricone, “Il Grande Silencio” (Thievery Corporation Remix)
In 2001, Thievery Corporation gave Morricone’s “Il Grande Silenzio” — the theme song from the 1968 film of the same name — a chilled out, Cafe del Mar worthy remix that added a trip-hop inspired beat pattern and other vibey touches to Morricone’s already fairly vibey, string-laden original. The edit comes from Morricone RMX, a 2001 collection of official Morricone remixes that also featured re-works by artists including Nightmares on Wax and other names from the electronica era.
Phantogram, “In a Spiral”
Released this past March, Phantogram’s fourth studio LP, Ceremony, paid homage to Morricone with the use of his “Navajo Joe” on the heavy, swirling “In a Spiral.” “Navajo Joe” was the theme song to the 1966 Burt Reynolds flick of the same name.