NELSON PSYCHOUT

Nelson’s Pyshcout.

Label: Vampi Soul.

For the vast majority of record buyers, Nelson Records won’t mean anything to them, unless they happen to be a connoisseur of library music. That, however, is unlikely, as library music is still one of music’s best kept secrets and is a musical treasure trove. However, apart form this small coterie of musical connoisseurs, very few people have heard of library music, never mind Nelson Records. 

Thankfully, that has started to change over the last few years with various independent record labels releasing compilations of library music. These compilations are usually lovingly curated, and mostly, have focused on the bigger music libraries including KPM, De Woife, Amphonic, Conroy and Sonoton. However, recently the Vampi Soul label released a new compilation of library music, Nelson’s Pyshcout, which featured eighteen tracks from the vaults of Nelson Records which was one of the most important and innovative Italian music libraries of the seventies. This was a golden age for library music, and was when some of the greatest library music was recorded. However, the demand for library music grew in the fifties.

For many library companies, especially in Britain, the birth of television in the mid-fifties was a game-changer. No longer was classical music which had long been a staple of their businesses, as popular among their clients. As a result, some of the bigger library music companies, including Boosey and Hawkes, had decided to diversify into library music publishing. By then, there was already a huge demand for music to provide the soundtrack to radio, television and film.  

Originally, library music was meant to be used by film studios or television and radio stations, and was never meant to be commercially available. The music was recorded on spec by music libraries who  hired often young unknown composers, musicians and producers. This ranged from musicians who were known within publishing circles, to up-and-coming musicians who later, went onto greater things, and look back fondly at their time writing, recording and producing library music. This they now regard as part of their musical apprenticeship. 

For the musicians hired to record library music, their remit was to provide companies like KPM, De Woife or Boosey and Hawkes with a steady stream of new music, which was originality referred to as production music. During some sessions, the musicians’ remit was write and record music to match themes or moods. This wasn’t easy, but after a while they were  able to this seamlessly. Soon, the musicians were able to enter the audio and write and record a piece of music that matched a theme or mood for a film or television show.

Once the library music was recorded, record libraries sent out demonstration copies of their music to production companies. If the production companies liked what they heard, they would license a track or several tracks from the music libraries. That was how it was meant to work.

Often, the music that had been recorded on spec by library companies was never licensed. Since then, many of the tracks have lain unheard in the vaults of music libraries like KPM, De Woife, Amphonic, Conroy, Sonoton and Boosey Hawkes. That was no surprise, because the sixties and seventies was the golden age for library music. Competition was fierce amongst the major players who recorded a vast quantity of new music in the hope that they would license the tracks and use them in films, television or radio. It was a case of speculate to accumulate in what was a potentially hugely profitable sector.

Especially during the sixties and seventies when various film and television companies plus a number of radio stations agreed to license the music that had been created by these groups of largely anonymous composers, musicians and producers. Often the tracks that were licensed went on to provided the soundtrack to some of the biggest television programmes on British television, ranging from The Sweeney and The Professionals to cartoons like Dangermouse and current affairs to quiz shows. Many of these themes became part of the soundtrack to British life and are fondly remembered by a generation of adults. However, not everyone in Britain was a fan of library music.

This included the Musician’s Union in Britain, who banned their members from working on recording sessions of library music. Somewhat shortsightedly, the Musician’s Union thought that eventually, there would come a time when there was no need for any further recordings of library music. Their fear was that the sheer quantity of back-catalogue would mean no new recordings would be made, and their members would be without work. Soon, the record libraries had worked out a way to circumvent the band, which suited all parties.

Some record libraries would fly out composers, arrangers, musicians and producers to Holland and Belgium, where local musicians would join them for recording sessions. This meant that often, the same musicians would play on tracks for several composers. These were lucrative sessions for the musicians involved, who had the last laugh. 

Incredibly, it was only in the late seventies, that the stubborn dinosaurs that ran the Musician’s Union lifted their ban on new recordings of library music. By then, the golden age of library music was at an end, the Musician’s Union ban had cost their members dearly. 

Later, sample hungry hip hop producers who dug deep into the crates found albums of library music. This was the ‘inspiration’ that they were looking for, and many ‘borrowed’ samples from their newfound musical treasure. Soon, other producers, DJs and collectors went in search of these long-overlooked albums of library music. Since then, they’ve become increasingly collectable, with producers continuing to sample them, while DJs incorporating library music into their sets. There’s also a number of collectors who spend their time and money looking for, and buying albums of library music. Just like the producers and DJs, these collectors were aficionados of library music.

They’re all sure to enjoy the eighteen tracks from the vaults of the Italian record library Nelson Records, which feature on the new compilation from Vampi Soul Nelson’s Pyshcout.

The Nelson Records’ story began in Roma, in 1970, when Maurizio Majorana, Antonello Vannucchi and Roberto Podio founded a new label after they establishing the Telecinesound recording studio. That was where the New Italian Library Sound took shape.

Soon, this triumvirate of talented musicians were soon joined by guitarist Carlo Pes and together, they formed the studio group that feature on the majority of Nelson Records’ recordings, Marc 4. It took its name for from the first initial of each of the musician’s christian names, so Maurizio Majorana, Antonello Vannucchi, Roberto Podio and Carlo Pes essentially became part of Marc 4.

Having formed Marc 4, the four musicians began writing and recording new music on spec. They hoped that they could license the new tracks to film, television, radio or even advertising agencies. These tracks were recorded at the new Telecinesound recording studio, where the rhythm section of drummer Roberto Podio, bassist  Maurizio Majorana and guitarist Carlo Pes were joined by Antonello Vannucchi on Hammond organ and piano. The four musicians were versatile and talented and were capable of creating the New Italian Library Sound.

To create the new the New Italian Library Sound that features on Nelson’s Pyshcout, Marc 4 fused elements of jazz, pop, rock and psychedelia. While each of the members of Marc 4 were gifted musicians, and played their part in the New Italian Library Sound it was guitarist Carlo Pes who played a leading role. 

That was the case on Distorsion Mind which opens Nelson’s Pyshcout. Both Antonello Vannucchi’s Hammond organ and Carlo Pes’ guitar play leading roles. However, Carlo Pes’ blistering guitar steals the show on this groove slice of cinematic psychedelia. It’s a similar case on the lysergic sounding The Trip. However, on the eerie and haunting sounding Compression each member of Marc 4 plays their part in this cinematic hidden gem. Dirottamento is best described as psychedelic mood music that becomes dramatic as Marc 4 continue to explore variations in the psychedelic groove. They continue to do so on Beat Generation and then on Beat Morbido which is a cinematic opus full of drama and tension. 

Very different is the jazz-tinged cinematic psychedelia of Leslie Love. It gives way to Indagine which is full of drama, tension and  psychedelic surprises. Attesa Spasmodica sounds as if it’s been written with the horror genre in mind. It’s a similar case with Deep Bass which features rocky bursts of gothic psychedelia. Filter is a psychedelic rock workout with progressives undertones.

Although Airon has a much more understated cinematic sound, the psychedelic sound is still present. That is the case on stomping Wonder, where once again, Antonello Vannucchi’s Hammond organ and Carlo Pes’ guitar play leading roles. However, the guitar steals the show and Wonder wouldn’t be the same tracks without it. The tempo drops on Underground, which is dark, dramatic, trippy and has a cinematic sound that sets the imagination racing. Antonello Vannucchi’s Hammond organ taking centre-stage on Ray Ban which could’ve only been recorded during the seventies. It sounds as if it belong on the soundtrack to a seventies cop show or thriller and will bring back memories for people of a certain age. While there’s a “traditional” psych sound to Berkey ’70, Marc 4 aren’t afraid to experiment and improvise as this workout takes shape. Fast Bass which closes Nelson’s Pyshcout is best described as dark, moody, broody and gothic psychedelia from Marc 4. 

They made Nelson Records the success story it was between 1970 and 1976. During what was a golden age for library music, Marc 4 were making history as they defined the New Italian Library Sound which was published by Nelson Records. They became one of the  most important Italian music libraries of the seventies. 

Nelson Records became known for recording and ambitious and innovative genre-melting music, where Marc 4 fused elements of jazz, pop, rock and psychedelia. This genre-melting music was veered between  broody and moody to dark and  dramatic to eerie, haunting and lysergic to rocky and trippy. Always though, the psychedelic library music that Marc 4 made was cinematic and the highest quality. 

For six years, Nelson Records was one of finest purveyors of psychedelic library music in Italy. A reminder of this can be found on Nelson’s Pyshcout, which was recently released by Vampi Soul. Nelson’s Pyshcout features a tantalising taste of the library music within the vaults of Nelson Records, which is home to some of the greatest library music recorded in Italy during this golden era, where the label’s studio band Marc 4, defined the New Italian Library Sound.

Nelson’s Pyshcout.

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