By Dave Pehling
BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Best known for their haunting ’70s soundtracks used in the films of gory giallo director Dario Argento, Italian progressive-rock outfit Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin provides the live score for the 1977 horror classic Suspiria at the Oakland Metro Opera House for two nights.
Initially working under the monikers Oliver and Cherry Five after being founded by guitarist Massimo Morante and keyboardist Claudio Simonetti in 1972, the band got its start emulating the bombastic sounds of British bands Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. At one point while visiting England, noted Yes producer Eddie Offord heard their early demos and actually expressed interest in the group, but nothing came of it.
Goblin didn’t truly take flight until it was commissioned to score director Dario Argento’s 1975 bloody masterwork Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red). The atmospheric menace of the soundtrack — especially keyboardist Simonetti’s syncopated synth melody and gothic church organ on the indelible title theme — established Goblin as Argento’s go-to collaborators on films that would follow including the equally groundbreaking Suspiria, Tenebre and Phenomena.
The notoriety of the band’s work with Argento also led the band to connecting with George A. Romero on his famed 1978 zombie apocalypse sequel Dawn of the Dead. While infighting between members would hampered the band as the ’80s progressed, its mix of foreboding ambiance, sinewy Lalo Schifrin-style jazz-funk, and creepy wordless vocals has found an audience among record collectors and horror-film fans in the decades since.
After over two decades apart, the Goblin principles reunited to work with Argento on his 2001 film Non Ho Sonno only to disband for much of the 2000s. A reunited lineup featuring Simonetti, Morante, and keyboard player Maurizio Guarini came together to perform Goblin’s uneasy-listening hits on the band’s first-ever U.S. tour in 2013, but even the rave reviews and packed houses of that successful jaunt could not keep the members together as Simonettii departed to found his own splinter version of the group.
The keyboard virtuoso and songwriter brings his current line-up of Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin featuring guitarist Bruno Previtali, bassist Cecilia Nappo and drummer Titta Tani to the U.S. for a string of dates that kicked off with an October 28 appearance at the Days of Darkness Festival in Baltimore. Capitalizing on a resurgence of interest surrounding director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria that features a new soundtrack by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, the band comes to the Oakland Metro Operahouse for two nights, performing a live score for a screening of the Argento horror classic in addition to a second set of other Goblin gems. Friday night’s show is sold out.
Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performs Suspiria
Friday-Saturday, Nov. 9-10, 8 p.m. $25-$40
Oakland Metro Operahouse