Published May 13, 2018Goblin have dabbled a lot in their decades-long career. From psych-twisting prog-rock albums to synth-coated horror scores to even new wave pop records, they've covered some serious stylistic ground since forming in '72. But few of the Italian group's genre experiments proved as triumphant as 1982's Tenebrae — a soundtrack that tackled disco head on and brought it to new Goblinistic heights.
Highlighting this now is Waxwork Records, which has expanded the original Cinevox album to release Tenebrae's "definitive" version in all its dancefloor-appropriate glory. Of course, though, the soundtrack isn't actually a Goblin album at all.
Following previous collaborations with director Dario Argento on his 1977 film Suspiria and, to some degree, with 1978's Dawn of the Dead, Goblin had already experienced their first breakup when the filmmaker began plotting Tenebrae. But with Argento being Argento, he somehow convinced three of the band's key former members — Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli and Massimo Morante — to reunite and soundtrack his return to the giallo, with the musicians instead working under the name Simonetti - Pignatelli - Morante.
As a trio, this group produced one of the most cohesive and memorable works in the Goblin universe, thanks in large part to the perfect blend of classic Goblin tropes with those of a more future-looking nature. While Simonetti - Pignatelli - Morante still utilized old prog-leaning rock moves ("Lesbo") and creepy-as-hell horror tactics ("Slow Circus"), they also embraced electronic-oriented dance music and disco, offering up a new sonic blueprint that broke away from the group's previous work.
In fact, Tenebrae is probably the most recognizable Goblin effort, due to its heavily sampled title track, made most famous by Justice's liberal sampling on "Phantom" and "Phantom Pt. II." "Tenebrae" is, after all, a true earworm of a track, with Simonetti's nonsensical vocoder melody driving its way into your subconscious, whether you want it to or not. It's also perhaps the only song to now strike up a sing-along at Goblin concert.
But while Tenebrae was originally presented as a tight eight-song package, Waxwork has now ballooned the album into a sprawling 19-track two-LP edition. For the most part, these bonus tracks come as alternate takes, with these sounding very similar yet slightly different than those of the original album. There is also a pair of decent — though not essential — remixes thrown in for "Tenebrae" and "Flashing," as well as a brief sound effects track and some suites. If you're expecting any big surprises, though, you won't find any, but the extras do help paint a fuller picture.
Packaging-wise, though, Waxwork has truly outdone itself this time, with the double-vinyl set featuring a die-cut old-style gatefold jacket boasting some deadly appropriate art from Nikita Kaun, both inside and out. In fact, the front outer cover features an actual cut-out, with that then revealing the inner sleeve featuring a classic Tenebrae still of star Daria Nicolodi. Throw in one disc on "Blood Red" vinyl and another on "Straight Razor Silver" vinyl, and it's an impressive — and hefty — piece of work, to say the least.
As a whole, it all amplifies what Goblin fans already know — Simonetti - Pignatelli - Morante's Tenebrae is one stunning piece of work, both in its original form and as a beefed-up modern-day reissue.
[Ed. Note: A previous version of this review was published without mention of the actual packaging, which has now been added upon receipt of the physical album.] (Waxwork Records)