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Goblin - Contamination CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.81 | 24 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars `Contamination' sees Italian progressive and cult soundtrack band Goblin add a refreshing dose of other wordly sci-fi sounds to their usual creeping horror atmospherics, and it makes for a mostly consistent and successful album.This time the soundtrack to a science-fiction film, It's a shame that the album is another mostly unnoticed and somewhat ignored work from the band, because in addition to a number of suspenseful and moody numbers, it contains the classic Goblin track `Quiet Drops', one of the most delicate and subtle pieces the band ever wrote.

`Connexion' gets things off to a great start, with it's intimidating drum-beat and classic Goblin church organ mixed with swirling spacey sound effects and slightly computerized sounding funky bass. Extra points for the `Alien choir' Mellotron too! `Withy' shares the moody guitar melody and plodding bass-line from Pink Floyd's `Another Brick...part 1' off `The Wall', playing over ghostly synth melodies, icy winds and booming drums that constantly creep closer and louder. `Bikini Island' is a highly kitsch upbeat disco/jazz-fusion commercial throwaway, but it's something of a guilty pleasure. Of course the album would work better without it, but it is full of lovely bass playing, catchy guitar runs and varied percussion sounds. Back to the nightmare for `Flood', which has Alan Parsons Project style chiming guitars, washes of spasmodic synth notes and harsh single drumbeat interruptions all playing over a tense metronome style ticking beat. `Pillage' has murky and darkly funky bass with dramatic fusion style guitar soloing over a repetitive stop-start arrangement with bashing drums. At least these last two tracks work towards creating the chilly mood again!

Side B's `The Carver' offers more light jazz and Latin percussion with slightly bent and unnerving wavering keyboards with driving bass. `Rush' unsurprisingly has a tense and haunted stalking quality full of ambient droning synths and a repetitive guitar melody that plays over and over. `Fright' is one of the most effective pieces on the album, with harsh electronics drifting amongst oppressive massive drums and a looped alien cry. Not much of a tune, but an experimental attempt at a moody soundscape that has more in common with bands like Tangerine Dream. `Time Is On' abruptly fades in from the previous track, and is a nightmarish echoing piano and electronic piece filled with distorted devilish wailing. Some parts of this sound a little like Rick Wright's frightening avant-garde contributions to the `Ummagumma' Pink Floyd album. `Ogre' by comparison is a reflective wilting sax, piano and bass diversion that lulls you into a brief respite of comfort before the album centrepiece.

`Quiet Drops' is a lonely and highly emotional piano piece with a very somber and sad melody. Impossibly fragile and low-key, with very restrained and stirring gentle string washes over the second half. It will truly bring you to tears, so don't listen to it on a broken heart. I was first aware of this track from the Morte Macabre cover on their album `Symphonic Holocaust', which in itself is an amazing interpretation. But the sparse original is a very moving beautiful piece, and ranks among the very best work of the Goblin band.

The CD reissue adds some curios in the form of alternate takes, unused fragments and unreleased pieces from the film. They don't exactly add anything to the album, but don't detract from it either. Just nice additions to an already effective album. I chose the vinyl reissue because that format makes it feel a little more special, with lovely vibrant artwork and the album presented the way it was always meant to be. If you do decide to get the CD, go for one with the dark cover feautured on this page, not the horrid blue washed out photo one.

This album shares some tracks from the `Buio Omega' soundtrack, so rather than grumble and moan about inconsistency or record company (and/or band?!) laziness in padding out already short albums with recycled/reused pieces, I just decided to review what is on here for it's individual strengths and weaknesses. You can go crazy trying to figure out what piece appears on what album sometimes with this band! Just enjoy, I say!

Although there's some occasional late 70's/early 80's disco and commercial jazz funk elements that not only the band, but many horror soundtracks in general were incorporating at the time, `Contamination' can still stand perfectly well alongside their string of fascinating and consistent lesser-known soundtracks. It is still easily recognizable as a work of Goblin, with all the usual strange atmosphere, tasteful playing and inventive arrangements. Definitely not one to dismiss or ignore.

Three and a half stars!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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