All the Colours of the Dark ( Tutti i colori del buio) is surely one of the greatest soundtracks ever recorded and a holy grail vinyl for many collectors, yet for some reason Bruno Nicolai still doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves outside of the circle of giallo fans and hardcore soundtrack aficionados. For many years he was the right-hand man to Ennio Morricone and maybe that’s the problem: the wider world sees him in Morricone’s shadow or doesn’t even know the valuable contributions he made to Morricone’s scores before a mysterious falling out left them parting ways on bad terms. They were never reconciled, and sadly Nicolai passed away in 1991.
Although I’m a fan of nearly all of Nicolai’s scores, this one towers over the others. Throughout its runtime it can be jarring, difficult, dreamlike, hallucinatory, and yet it’s always strikingly beautiful. Recorded with the help of Alessandro Alessandroni on sitar and Edda Del Orso on vocals, the score can be split into two distinct sections.
Tracks such as ‘Sabba’ are beat-driven affairs with Alessandroni’s piercing psychedelic sitar almost working against the track, threatening to derail it. Add to this Del Orso’s terrifying wordless screams and moans, which sound out of time and place, and the whole thing almost becomes a car crash of the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ kind. In lesser hands this would be unlistenable. But such is the masterful ear of Nicolai that he manages to focus the whole piece on what is very nearly an uplifting ‘chorus’, and the whole thing eventually makes you want to dance around your room like a lunatic.
And then you have tracks such as ‘Magico Incontro’, which are simply beautiful avant-pop with gorgeous orchestration and wailing vocals. I say ‘simply’ but nothing Nicolai does is simple. There is always something going on under the surface that pulls you back in for multiple listens.
As much as I love this score I had a hard time writing about it. It’s difficult to pin down what makes it great and it’s best experienced through a rumbling sound system where it can almost overpower you. The original goes for big money (if you can even find it ) so kudos to Andy Votel and Finders Keepers for not only releasing it in its original library sleeve but also loaded with extensive liner notes and a poster.
Spencer Hickman is the founder of Death Waltz Recording Company, the leading soundtrack label specialising in horror and cult films. Forthcoming releases include the scores to House of the Devil and City of the Living Dead.
Watch the US original trailer for Tutti i colori del buio: