Look, life can’t be all hacking through the jungle with a machete or leading a team of frogmen in a suicide mission attempt to sabotage an enemy U-boat. Sometimes, you find yourself sloughing out of your shoulder holster (don’t worry — you’ve got a Pistolet Makarova under the pillow, just in case), pouring two glasses of champagne, and gently (or roughly — it’s up to you and your partner) lying an elegantly appointed man or woman down on the carpet in front of the fireplace. In these moments just before and during intimacy, there were two important things you must have properly in place. First, check your breath. Second, make sure you have some proper love making music on the hi-fi.
Most of us understand that hitting your intended intimate (or intimates — we are liberated peoples of the world here, after all) with a face full of stale, sour stout beer breath can kill the mood (and is why you should stick to a whiskey with a sweet, perhaps slightly minty character, or always be sure to end with a Fernet Branca), but just as effective at ending an evening that shouldn’t end is putting on the music and filling the room with Yakety Sax or the East London Rhode Island Pomp and Circumstance Military Marching Band’s Salute to John Philip Sousa. Both of those albums may be fine for strip clubs, but when you are in your home, hotel, or a modestly decorated lean-to on a deserted beach in Bali, it behooves you, as the mood setter, to indulge in something a little more sensual.
And while I can’t fault the man or woman who relies on a bit of Marvin Gaye to properly set the tone of the evening, I would also be lying if I didn’t say I thought that at this point serving up “Sexual Healing” wasn’t just a little bit predictable, though still more acceptable than Barry White (the human embodiment of satin sheets). So we here at Teleport City, knowing that you who read this site live a certain sort of lifestyle, thought we would plumb the depths of our needlessly vast collection of Continental cocktail music to find a dozen of the choicest platters for the night of passion and romance that will inevitably follow your day of adventure and intrigue.
Piero Umiliani — Il Corpo
For my money — and I’ve spent plenty of it on import vinyl — Umiliani is the king of the sleazy listening erotic soundtrack, and this particular one might be his greatest accomplishment. Few soundtracks have so thoroughly expressed the experience of tropical sun-drenched, near animalistic lust quite like this one. Every song is the audio equivalent of a lithe, tan libertine covered in a glistening sheen of perspiration slipping out of a gauzy, translucent beach toga. From what I can tell of the movie from which this soundtrack is taken, that’s actually the entirety of the plot. Umiliani forges an intoxicating blend of island rhythms, lounge pop, and plenty of the breathy, wordless vocals that are, for me, required for a truly great sleazy listening experience.
Piero Piccioni — Camille 2000
Radley Metzger’s stylish slice or eroticic cinema is a grand accomplishment in pop art perversions, kitschy kink, and self-indulgent bourgeoisie decadence. Piero Piccioni — second, perhaps, only to Piero Umiliani when it comes to soundtracks of this nature, turns in a score that fits perfectly with the movies endless parade of elegant sleaze. If you’re up for a particularly adventurous or experimental night, this is slice of wax to put on the hi-fi, especially if your night also includes wall-to-wall white shag carpet, a ceiling made of thousands of broken mirrors, walls covered in bubble wrap, an assortment of red plastic orb chairs, and a trapeze.
Pierre Bachelet & Herve Roy — Emmanuelle
This movie, and more to the point, star Sylvia Kristel, made me a man. Over and over on this site, I’ve alluded to those mad nights at my friend’s house, devouring an unending buffet of sleazy, gory, perverse, and profane late night cable movies. But of all the films that corrupted me as a child, few were as psyche-altering as Emmanuelle. I will admit that the charms of Pierre Bachelet’s score for the film were lost on me at the time, in thrall as I was of Sylvia. But I’m able to revisit it now and find it a perfect slice of early seventies sexadelica with a dash of raunchy porno funk bubbling to the surface every now and then.
Sonia Rosa — Golden Bossa Nova
If you’re putting together your library of music for love making and there’s no Sonia Rosa in it, you have done something horribly wrong. Her voice hovers somewhere between cute and bubbly, and breathy and sensual. The arrangements backing her are simple but effective, driven by guitar and strings. Sets the perfect, quiet mood. A beachfront hut or hacienda is a plus but not a must. Sonia will set the right mood no matter where you are. And best of all, if you’re a nerd like me, she collaborated with Yuji Ohno, the cocktail lounge and jazz freak responsible for, among other things, the music from the swanky, jet-setting Japanese anime series Lupin III.
Stavros Xarhakos — Koritsia Ston Hlio
I stumbled across this one at random, knowing nothing about Stavros Xarhakos or the film from which this music is taken. But the album cover was a thing of stark beauty — the white background,with a brilliant orange circle (representing the sun, I assume) and a beautiful woman in a white bikini. Not buying the album was out of the question. Luckily, the music behind the album cover was fantastic. Breathy female vocals, strings, xylophones, even the occasional male vocalist. The whole album sounds like a sultry, sun-soaked European holiday. Hell, it sounds exactly like the album cover. Sometimes sensual, sometimes aggressive, always hypnotic. This one proves that the Greeks could do sexy Eurolounge every bit as well as the Italians.
The Mystic Moods Orchestra — Love Token
This entry from the Mystic Moods Orchestra occupies that interesting space between boudoir lounge and early psychedelic folk, peppered with the genre’s ubiquitous wordless female vocals and weird flourishes like sampled sounds (birds mostly) that make you feel like a flower child lying with your loved one in a sun-dappled field. Or, you know, something suitable hippy and flowers-in-the-hairish. Teleport City may be defined by machetes and Walther PPKs, but like Derek Flint and the President’s Analyst, we understand the gentle people and are open to indulging in their ways. There’s something sunny and happy about this album, without it being peppy or anything. Nothing wrong with pep, but few people want to describe their lovemaking as “peppy.”
Piero Piccioni — Swept Away
Another entry from Piccioni, who offers up almost as many candidates for this list as Piero Umiliani. A great mix of breezy strings and a bossa beat, with a couple guitar driven numbers that speak with a certain sadness — after all, the greatest loves need in them an air of the melancholy and tragic from time to time. Lest it all become too heavy, Piccioni spices things up with more upbeat numbers like “Significa Amore.” All in all, this might be the most subdued of the selections in this list — there aren’t even any of the sighing female vocals that are the hallmark of so many of the greats in the genre. But don’t let that fool you. Piccioni is a man who knows his stuff, and while this one may serve up some challenges, it’s well worth the effort.
Ennio Morricone — So Sweet, So Sensual
Making a list of proper lovemaking music without including the undisputed master of the Eurofilm soundtrack would be an unforgivable crime. While there are many individual soundtracks from Morricone that fit the bill, this compilation is easily the most vigorously effective. Every track present is on here to set a mood romantique, with moaned and sighed vocals by the best moaners and sighers in the business. Play this album, and clothes will elegantly slide off human bodies without you having to even do anything. Along with the two Pieros, anyone who wants to properly set the mood needs to have at least a working knowledge of Morricone beyond the spaghetti western soundtracks — though if you can set a romantic mood with “The Ecstasy of Gold” then more power to you.
3 Filles en Stereo: The Sisters of Charm — Yesterday
By now, this list should have made perfectly clear how much I adore the wordless female vocals that appear in so much of this music, and how effective I think it is at setting a sensual mood. Obscure vocal group Sisters of Charm are built around the use of the female voice as a musical instrument, and this album is a wonderful showcase for their talents. They set the mood with a breathy rendition of The Beatles “Yesterday” — I admit that I’m not usually a fan of lounge covers of pop and rock tunes, but they really do wonders with what was already a pretty fantastic song, and one that was well suited for this sort of treatment. From there, the three women weave a lush tapestry of vocal harmonies backed by strings and percussion. A few of the tracks veer closer to rock, but you need to be able to swing with that. This is another album I found at random, knowing nothing about it but suspecting that the contents would delight me. I wasn’t disappointed.
Nico Fidenco — Emanuelle Nera Orient Reportage
The “Emanuelle” with one “m” films are a fecund source of fantastic mood setting soundtracks, but just as the movies themselves sometimes veered wildly into bizarre and sometimes unpleasant content, so too do many of the soundtracks meander from the sensual to the sleazy to the just plain weird. To make them work, you need someone with an open mind — the kind of man or woman who would live in the warped universe of the Emanuelle films. That said, this soundtrack is the most consistent for use in the lovemaking lounge. Bossa nova, a flash of the tribal, plenty of organs and strings, and a toe from time to time in the world of acid folk and sleazy funk. As the movie is set in Thailand, there are also some stabs at ethnic Thai flourishes. “Emanuelle Nera O.R.” might throw you for a loop with it’s sort of goofy beat, but you’ll get through it.
Barigozzi Group — The Optical Sound
Barigozzi Group liked to get a bit funky and experimental from time to time, but then, so should you. This is a slick one, with lots of organs, flutes, ethereal electronic doodling, and forays into African-influenced jazz-funk. You’re gonna need a lot of energy to keep up with this one. Some really beautiful, groovy stuff, great for your night (or day — who’s to say?) of passion, or maybe just for a drive in a smart sportscar along a craggy European coast. If you’re doing that, just be sure you are wearing a smart suit (for men) or a jaunty silk scarf and bug- or cat-eyed sunglasses (for ladies). No wordless vocals, but the appearance of weird, psychedelic stuff like the Moog and… you know… that thing that’s often mistaken for a theremin. If you can’t make love to the outer space sounds of a theremin, you still have a lot of work to do.
Piero Umiliani — La Ragazza Dalla Pelle Di Luna
It was amazingly difficult to keep myself from making this list exceptionally Piero Umiliani heavy. The man knew what he was doing. I think at some point I even told myself I was going to limit myself to one album per composer, but that ended up being unrealistic. The title track is simply one of the greatest lounge sonds ever written, with sweeping strings, ghostly female vocals that say so much without actually saying anything at all. It’s breathtaking, and things don’t let up from there. Like a lot of Umiliani’s stuff, there’s an undercurrent of tribal drums and rhythm beneath the lush Eurolounge production. As with Il Corpo, there’s a touch of exotica in the music, making for a positively intoxicating blend. There are also a couple breezy “driving along the coast” tracks, but the star here is the voice of Edda Dell’Orso, the be-all end-all of wordless female vocals. This one is fantastically potent and must be employed with care.