Bernardo Bonezzi

Almodóvar Early Films

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Like former Oingo Boingo leader Danny Elfman, Spanish screen composer Bernardo Bonezzi got his start in a rock group, in his case los Zombies, who scored a Spanish hit with the song "Groenlandia," and like Elfman he made his transition into film scoring through his association with a single director. For Elfman, that director was Tim Burton; for Bonezzi, it was Pedro Almodóvar. In both cases, the composer brought a pop sensibility to his movie work, coming up with cues that showed both an immediately ear-catching melodic appeal and a strong sense of rhythm. But there the similarities end, at least as demonstrated on this album of excerpts from five of Almodóvar and Bonezzi's early films (two cues from 1982's Labyrinth of Passions; five from 1984's What Have I Done to Deserve This?, one of which was also used in 1987's Law of Desire; five from 1986's Matador; and seven from 1988's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). The tracks, presented in reverse chronological order, demonstrate Bonezzi's versatility at the same time that they show a fidelity to Spanish pop and classical styles. The composer had to be versatile to respond to the varying emotional and dramatic tones of Almodóvar's wildly imaginative yet character-driven comedy/dramas, and he also seems to have had to work with limited budgets, since his arrangements generally include only a handful of instruments. But he gets a lot out of those charts, whether he is required to come up with haunting, atmospheric underscoring (e.g., "Composición en Rojo," from Matador) or livelier fare ("Taxi Mambo," from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). And he had to accommodate a director who wanted to get his fingers into every aspect of his productions, as Almodóvar does in the final two tracks, the disco-styled pop songs "Gran Ganga" and "Suck It to Me" from Labyrinth of Passions, to which Almodóvar contributes not only lyrics, but his own vocals.

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