Home Read Now Hear This: Whatitdo Archive Group | The Black Stone Affair

Now Hear This: Whatitdo Archive Group | The Black Stone Affair

Reno's Sextones deliver the funky faux soundtrack to a non-existent ’70s movie.

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NOTE: Near as I can tell, the entire story below is a giant hoax. Based on the actual musician credits online, this appears to be the latest album from members of the Reno soul-jazz outfit The Sextones, masquerading as an obscure ’70s Italian combo. Sorry to burst your bubble. But hey, it’s nice to see somebody was clearly making good use of all those months in quarantine lockdown. And knowing the truth certainly doesn’t stop you from enjoying the vintage-sounding tunes and production on this faux soundtrack. If anything, it makes you appreciate their commitment and attention to detail all the more. In fact, had they kept their identites totally secret — and resisted the dead giveaway of shooting a video for one song — they might have fooled everybody and got away with their own Black Stone heist. But that’s what sequels are for, right?

 


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For the first time ever, Whatitdo Archive Group’s long-lost soundtrack to the Italian cinematic masterpiece The Black Stone Affair has been released. Long thought to be lost alongside the movie itself by the production studio, the soundtrack’s master reels were recently recovered and its audio meticulously restored and remastered by J.J. Golden in Ventura, CA.

The movie itself was understood to be unusual for its time: a globetrotting adventure/western-noir written and directed by aspiring visionary Stefano Paradisi. Unfortunately for Paradisi, the tragic loss of his masterpiece during a fire also meant the end of his short-lived career in movies. People who worked on the film have been cited as saying this film was very ambitious, set to be a turning point in Paradisi’s carrier putting him on the map alongside the likes of Sergio Leone and Antonioni.

While the movie never saw the light of day, the soundtrack by obscure band Whatitdo Archive Group has thankfully been recovered. The music itself is staggering to hear, each track evoking all the senses almost all at once. The Black Stone Affair (Main Theme) sets the story with its dizzying bassline underneath a Morricone-esque harpsichord melody eventually all digressing into a psych-freakout of guitars swirling over what is the overarching motif groove of this iconic soundtrack.

We then get taken into the giallo-steeped melody of Blood Chief. What can only be the theme of the antagonist, this cut offers crunchy drum breaks, reverb-drenched bongos and a sinister baritone guitar line that seems to be indicative of its character. Ethiopian Airlines transports the movie into exotic lands with its afro-centric rhythms and mysterious horn melody. The search is on for the elusive Black Stone, an artifact so coveted it had been hidden for decades for its fatal power of seduction. For fans of KPM and De Wolfe Music, Il Furto Di Africo definitely delivers a similar ‘library’ flavor popular at the time. Our ears are treated to an ambiguous sense of center. What were Whatitdo Archive Group thinking? There almost seems to be two key centers at once and a slithering flute line blending between both. We can only imagine that the Black Stone was successfully stolen from the small Italian village of Africo with this track.

What movie really is complete without a lounge-y Bossa number? Italian Love Triangle delivers that sun-soaked Mediterranean romance. Our cunning female lead, Lola, decides the only way she can acquire the Black Stone is to pit the trio of characters against each other with an erotic love triangle she carefully crafts to exploit the vulnerability of Blood Chief and Beaumont Jenkins. Last Train to Budapest finds our two male leads in a gun-wielding, high-stakes train chase through the dizzying mountains of Bosnia racing to Hungary’s capital city. The music brilliantly calls upon the soundtrack’s multiple melodic motifs to all collide into a single stressful heart-racing track sure to put a knot in your stomach.

Probably the most unusual song appearing in this soundtrack is the French-infused L’amour au Centre de la Terre, an obvious yet tasteful homage to the composers’ musical hero Alain Goraguer. A lilting monologue is recited by who seems to be Lola, the tragic female lead in The Black Stone Affair. Her passage speaks of the entangled romance she shares with the other two male leads and her plan to acquire the elusive Black Stone for herself. It’s every man (and woman) for themselves! Paranoia and deceit has crept into the minds and motives of our conniving trio. No one can be trusted and false alliances are crumbling from within.

The Black Stone Affair (Reprise) evokes the characters’ gut-wrenching feeling with its ever-rising key center. Farewell Lola is the saddening funeral dirge and exit of the aforementioned Lola. Sworn enemies Beaumont and Blood Chief stand silently outside the church and watch as Lola’s casket is lowered into her untimely grave. This is merely an armistice between the remaining opponents, only to resume after paying their respects to their former ‘lover’. A gory fight leaves Blood Chief standing. Beaumont is nowhere to be seen and only a cloud of dust slowly settles into the landscape as the mournful guitar and harmonica of Beaumont’s Lament plays quietly in the distance. All is not lost. Triumphantly, Beaumont stands tall, throws one last devastating blow to Blood Chief leaving him incapacitated. The Return of Beaumont Jenkins plays loudly in the face of Blood Chief desperately reaching for the stone only to realize it’s a false! Our new hero, Beaumont Jenkins, sustained by Alessandro Alessandroni Jr.’s cinematic whistle, rides away victoriously into the night sky… the Black Stone hidden cleverly in his hat. End credits.”