Goblin Roller

[Cinevox; 1976]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: prog-rock, film scores
Others: Rush, King Crimson, Ennio Morricone

In their thirty-odd year partnership scoring films for suspense director Dario Argento, Goblin's soundtracks have run the gamut from deep prog, in the 1975 film Deep Red, to the pure nightmarish atmospherics of 1977's Suspiria. In 1976, Goblin released Roller, one of the band's few non-film related projects. This was a pivotal point of transition for the group, striking a balance between their technically proficient jams and their later exploration of chilling ambient noise.

One of the main love or hate aspects of the Goblin canon is their penchant to wear their horror film pedigree on their sleeves. Opening track "Roller," employing a hypnotic loop of flanged bass and ascending tendrils of over-the-top Phantom of the Opera-esque pipe organ, achieves a requisitely spooky effect. The closer, "Doc Frankenstein" is a fuzzy cauldron of bubbling electronics and down tuned amorphous blobs with dismal off kilter keys that spill over into a lysergic nightmare of tight buzz rolls and screaming demonic keyboards.

This is not to say, however, that Roller lacks more conventional or sedate moments. On "Aquaman" the band marries the gurgling sounds of water with hushed wisps of airy synth over a sprawling bluesy solo. They even skirt the edges of spry mainstream jazz with calming grand piano and the dramatic appearance of an oboe on "Il Risveglio Del Serpente."

Despite the seemingly wide disparity of styles, the band masterfully strikes a balance between the bombastic and the serene with the eleven minute epic, "Goblin." Beginning with mesmerizing dashes of guitar that quickly yield to a synchronized pattern of dizzying dive bombing synths, it momentarily drifts into a dreamy haze before exploding into cascading fountains of loose shambling grooves. It’s the kind of thing that would make Emerson, Lake and Palmer dig their own graves just so they could roll over in them.

Goblin's more dramatic deviation from bands like Rush or Yes may not be for all fans of the genre, but is perfect for more adventurous listeners who feel that they need more evil in their prog rock.

1. Goblin
2. Or Frankestein
3. Roller
4. Aquaman
5. Snip-Snap
6. Il Risveglio Del Serpente

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