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Franco Battiato - L'Egitto Prima Delle Sabbie CD (album) cover


Franco Battiato


Rock Progressivo Italiano

1.75 | 28 ratings

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2 stars Gazing at the sun

As a big fan of Franco Battiato and his ever changing sonic routes, this album completely threw me off balance. The man has always done things his own way, but the transition he made from his first four progressive rock albums to the minimalist approach found on subsequent albums made my head spin. I guess you could spot certain Stockhausen influences on an album like 'Clic', but they in no way prepared you for the white shimmering nothingness of this, his final minimalist installation, 'L'Egitto Prima Delle Sabbie'.

This album consists of two tracks performed solely on the piano. The opening title track instantly drives home one unequivocal fact: 6 piano notes repeated ad nauseum to the edge of infinity does not make for a cosy dinner soundtrack, and the girl sitting opposite you will most likely kindly ask you to put on an album that isn't stuck in a god forsaken vinyl groove.

There is method to his madness though. The echoing ripple effect of those 6 notes becomes increasingly hypnotic as the track unfolds. New slightly different shadings find their way into the music with a small change in the pauses between the clinkering, as well as a slight difference felt in the harmonics. Getting deeper and deeper into this raw piano abyss, you suddenly start questioning your sanity, sofa and sound system. It lulls you into a huge white landscape much like a Scandinavian wilderness drowned in sparkly snow - feeling as if you've gazed into the sun for far too long with small blobs of blue and purple forming around the corner of your eye in kaleidoscopic patterns and swirls.

The second cut 'Sud Afternoon' continues in it's predecessor's footprints, only here you get yet another acoustic piano chiming in. The emphasis on repetition and infinitely minuscule enhancement of a certain note still rules the coop, challenging the listener to be abnormally patient and to make something out of the, almost, blank canvas presented to him. It's a gift handed over to you, an abstract one at that.

I think of Battiato as a strange Italian take on Bob Dylan, no really. While they couldn't be further from each other sonically, they both have made their careers out of music without resolving to compromises. It comes from within...always. No sucking up to the fans - no interest in what makes the dollars flow - only a strict artistic focus on the musical journey of themselves, where they want to go next...and how. It may not be to everyone's taste (not even close!), but it's honest and pure. Making music starts with a fire in your stomach. Realising the music without enslaving oneself to certain principles of the day, certain sounds and trends, takes incredible amounts of balls and brains. Something dear ol Franco's never been in shortage of.

This record came out during punk and disco's heyday, and while it sported some of the same characteristics as the ascetic purity of the former - removing itself completely from the wild and shape-shifting days of his early releases, it still manages to convey a similar artistic prowess.....only conveyed majestically and repeatedly in white blinding light notes from a piano.

Guldbamsen | 2/5 |


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