Two years after the Italian film Mondo Cane ushered in a slew of "shockumentaries" with loosely-knit scenes detailing global rituals -- from pig slaughtering in New Guinea to a Hula dance in Hawaii -- director Paul Cavara made his own contribution to the form with 1964's I Malamondo, another travelogue that turns the focus away from "native rituals" to take in European youth generally up to no good, but very much alive in their own mercurial zeitgeist. Called in to provide the necessary musical backing to such fun was Ennio Morricone, later made famous by his stellar soundtracks for Sergio Leone's popular and genre-defining spaghetti Westerns from the latter half of the '60s. And although this is something of a fledgling work for Morricone, many of his trademarks are in place: he adorns the hop-along beat of "Penso A Te" with the dusky surf guitar lines and Mexican brass trumpet interludes heard readily on his soundtracks for Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, while his patented military snare rolls, ominous tympani accents, and eerie piano and choral dressings are all given the deconstructed treatment on "S.O.S." and "Freshmen." Elsewhere, there's more of a pop and jazz feel to many of the pieces reminiscent of Henry Mancini's work of the period. Yet, even in these moments, Morricone still tweaks things nicely with the occasional clang of the chimes, some ethereal siren's voice, or a bit of percussion and flute madness. Capped off with Ken Coleman's swankly smooth vocal, "Funny World," Malamondo gives one a relatively tame but still fascinating hint of the complex and singular soundtrack material Morricone would begin to make shortly after this project.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook