Prolific film composers Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi and Vincenzo Tempera have a combined 171 composer credits among them on the IMDb. In the mid-’70s, the trio made up the group Magnetic Systems, formed like Goblin before it to tap the Italian film and library music industry for instrumental pop that veered towards the psychedelic-funk end of the spectrum. Finders Keepers’ lively new compilation Magnetic Systems compiles highlights of the group’s soundtrack work. The films whose scores are sampled vary in genre from spaghetti western to giallo to a monster movie, but the music selected is consistently entertaining, even removed from its cinematic source.

The album is paced as if for a movie that careens among different exploitation genres. It opens with the dreamy “Allucinazioni Mistiche,” whose sliding funky guitar provided the score for a film about a most unlikely hero: an unlucky office clerk. This segues nicely into the frenetic A-side of the group’s only 45, “Escape,” which sounds like something off the soundtrack to The Matrix except that this single was released in 1977. The dramatic acoustic guitar-and-funky rhythms of “Death Song” come from Lucio Fulci’s 1975 spaghetti western I quattro dell’Apocalisse. Another change of genre and musical pace comes with the dark bass, distorted guitars and agitated percussion of “Facce Violente,” from a 1976 crime drama.

These first four tracks form a perfect introductory suite. expertly weaving moods so varied that the album comes off like a various artists mixtape all performed by a single versatile artist. In fact, while Magnetic Systems is credited with a single track on the soundtrack to the 1977 Italian film Rock ‘n’ Roll, other bands called Fruit of the Gum and the Benjamin Franklin Group were indeed Bixio, Frizzi and Tempera performing varieties of Italo disco under different names.

Liner notes indicate that this wildly inventive music was originally meant for movies that may well have been just as insane as their soundtracks–even if the movie was simply a redubbed classic. The flip side of “Escape” was the unreleased theme for an Italian version of the 1954 Godzilla that was colorized and re-released with a new electronic score in 1977.

If this kind of genre-jumping and pastiche sounds a little familiar, it has been championed by a similar pastiche artist: Quentin Tarantino used the group’s “Sette Note in Nero,” from the Lucio Fulci giallo of the same name, for the soundtrack of Kill Bill Vo. 1.

Not all of the collection’s 15 tracks works outside of a cinematic context. “Concessioni Naturali,” from the romantic crime drama La Preda, is a lush theme with unusual electronic textures, but it doesn’t have the unpredictable energy of the set’s best tracks. “Vai Gorilla” doesn’t quite live up to its name; it’s a mid-tempo synth ballad that has some corny charm and texture, but while it may be lively background music it’s less memorable in the foreground. Stlll, Magnetic Systems works more often than not, and will send listeners down a rewarding rabbit hole of obscure Italian movie soundtracks.

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