This album changed my life: Riz Ortolani – Cannibal Holocaust OST

Irish singer-songwriter Paddy Hanna on the 1980 Italian schlock-horror movie soundtrack that bled into his current album ‘Frankly, I Mutate’

Paddy Hanna: “My record shops became places like Forbidden Planet in London.” Photograph: Stephen White

Paddy Hanna: “My record shops became places like Forbidden Planet in London.” Photograph: Stephen White

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Much of my formative musical learning came from movies, in particular those schlocky Italian zombie and cannibal movies of the early 80s. My record shops indirectly became places like Forbidden Planet in London, where I would find copies of Zombie Flesh Eaters 2, Eaten Alive or, in this case, Cannibal Holocaust.

Cannibal Holocaust is a deeply unpleasant film made by a morally dubious director named Ruggero Deodato. However, the film’s graphic content is offset by an alarmingly beautiful soundtrack by Riz Ortolani. Without knowing at the time, this soundtrack became a massive influence on my later musical career. The tonality of the recordings, the disarming mix of sorrowful orchestral arrangements, abrasive synth and occasional bursts of Italian funk were an anarchic blend that fascinated me.

Ortolani’s soundtrack would also help spur on the latest phase of my musical career. When discussing with producer Daniel Fox whether or not string arrangements would feature on my new record Frankly, I Mutate, I said yes, on the provision that they sound like Riz Ortolani’s strings from Cannibal Holocaust

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