Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2010 November 01 • Monday

The 137th Soundtrack of the Week is Black Emanuelle by Nico Fidenco.

This is the soundtrack to the first in a series of movies made to cash in on the success of Emmanuelle, a French softcore sex movie that was an international hit in the 1970s. The major studio Columbia, according to Wikipedia, distributed it in the United States "after noting that most of the film's audience in French cinemas were women. The studio reasoned that female interest meant Emmanuelle could not be regarded as mere pornography".

Emmanuelle is apparently about a woman in Bangkok who, bored with her marriage to a diplomat, has a series of sexual encounters. In Black Emanuelle the title character is an investigative journalist who, presumably, also has a series of sexual encounters.

Black Emanuelle's soundtrack begins with "Emanuelle's Theme", a great tune that creates an ethereal atmosphere with just percussion and flute with lots of reverb. Guitar and bass come in, then strings and vocals. One chunk of it sounds a bit like "The Breeze and I".

The second track, "Of Your Body", is "Emanuelle's Theme" with lyrics. It begins with just voice and percussion, then bass, drum kit and back-up vocals come in, followed by keyboards. It's also quite groovy. You hear this melody a lot, so it's for the best that it's so agreeable.

Track 3 is "Emanuelle's Theme". Do you see a pattern emerging here? It's similar to the treatment in the first track.

After this we get some other tunes. First is the uptempo "Samba Safari" with a sprightly tape-echo guitar part that would be at home in a Ventures Christmas album or some such thing. The backing band sounds like it came from a seedy Las Vegas hotel ballroom. "Sudden Ride" combines funky rhythm guitar with a Morricone-like piano part and slightly ominous electric bass playing.

The first few seconds of "Black Rhythm" suggest the Hawaii Five-0 theme but turns out to be a workout for multiple percussion intruments, some vocals low in the mix and what sounds like it could be a clavinet. "Wild Cry" continues where it leaves off.

After that it's "Emanuelle's Theme" again! It really is a cool number. I never mind hearing it. Then it's "Sudden Ride" again. Then it's "Thoughtless", which begins with what I can only describe as "action guitar" before slouching into a kind of Vegas-style section with a tenor sax and keyboard melody. Then there's a guitar solo.

"Unavoidable" is laid back and a little bit goofy. It sounds like it's meant to accompany a tender and romantic scene. Then "Emanuelle's Theme" again!

After that it's "Hawaiian Sand", with delightfully echoey electric guitar sliding around a Hawaiian melody, accompanied by electric bass and percussion. Then "Emanuelle's Theme" again. Then "Samba Safari" again.

Then there's something called "Skin in the Wind". Percussion and a strange keyboard sound similar to the Ondes Martenot. Then strings come in and it turns out to be a quiet but dramatic cue, perhaps to accompany a pivotal scene. "Flute and Skin" is a lounge-type cue and "Rhythm Again" is another group percussion exercise with some shouts and chants.

Then there's "Emanuelle's Dream", with something that sounds a bit like marimba but probably isn't, some bizarre keyboard sounds, flute and strings. "Un Amore Impossible" begins with a romantic solo piano flourish and a melody somewhat similar to the "Love Story" theme or John Barry's "Somewhere in Time" theme.

Then we're back to another version of "Emanuelle's Theme", followed by "Wild Strength", percussion, chanting and some weird flute playing. Then it's "Wild Strength" again, a different take, I guess, and then the record concudes with one more "Emanuelle's Theme" for the road.