CD: Snack Bar Budapest (1988)

December 3, 2013 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: Polydor/ Released: 1988

Tracks & Album Length: 15 tracks / (32:37)


Special Notes:  n/a


Composer: Zucchero




Italian music star Zucchero only composed one original score, and it’s perhaps surprising that his lone contribution to film music was for a Tinto Brass film, and yet within the score’s  32 mins. of lean material lies a memorable work that’s as strangely haunting as Brass’ black comedy-drama / tragedy.

Snack Bar Budapest is a hybrid that shouldn’t work – a classic Warner Bros. gangster film + Blade Runner riff + Tinto Brass fetish film – and yet the music seems to draw from each of these genres to smoothen out any creases (or cracks) in Brass’ fairly tight screenplay.

The 15 tracks offer a balance of instrumental and vocal cues, and certainly in the opening track (“Dune Mosse”) Zucchero seems to evoke a little of Vangelis’ Blade Runner, sticking to the slow-burning tones which gave the classic sci-fi film its noir-blues feel while still evoking Jan Hammer’s own synthetic sounds which made Miami Vice an international hit.

“Gianni’s Theme” is more witty (and cheeky), whereas the remaining instrumental score cuts are less than a minute, functioning as short bridge material and strategic musical stabs between dialogue and erotic exchanges.

“Something’s Strong” first appears as bass-heavy vocal version with growling female voice and raw electric guitar for a blowjob scene (it’s an erotic film, after all); and later in a more scaled down version with bass, drum sequencer, and electric guitar that’s reminiscent of Eric Serra’s La femme Nikita (1990). Zucchero croons the second song, “Sei Di Mattino,” a wistful ballad with sparse instrumentations in the vocal and instrumental versions, and electric guitar leading the melody in the latter. The theme also reappears in the tragic “One Dream” which trails off very quickly.

Zucchero’s  ability to orchestrate diverse variations is pretty minimal in Budapest, which perhaps explains the lengthy pauses and literal reiterations within the album’s longest cut – the opening instrumental “Dune Mosse”. David Sancious is credited as arranger / performer / producer / and additional music, which more than infers Zucchero as composer of the main themes, and the heavy dramatic chores handled by Sancious to ensure everything in Brass’ film fit snugly.

Although short – the album (jacketed with a picture of the composer, director, and star Giancarlo Giannini) is also augmented by “My Baby Just Cares for Me” performed by Nina Simone – Budapest is a welcome surprise, supporting Brass’ odd genre hybrid, transcending the director’s fetishistic adorations, and the music aging rather well in spite of its synth-pop underpinnings.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan


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