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Franco Battiato - Pollution CD (album) cover


Franco Battiato


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.66 | 91 ratings

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4 stars Dream states

Battiato's follow up to the wonderful "Fetus" debut was the slightly darker and spacier "Pollution," released in the same year 1972. While it retains the playful and experimental RPI sound of "Fetus" this one occasionally sounds influenced by Pink Floyd, particularly the albums from "More" through "Meddle."

The first piece begins with voices and orchestrations, the sounds of people at a party with Battiato narrating over the music. Suddenly it explodes into a violent guitar riff with gothic organ and strange quivering vocals in the background, wonderfully eerie. "Areknames" has a beautifully harmonized guitar/synth opening with a lost, disorienting mood to the music. Acoustic guitar and repetitive vocals/VCS3 waves kick in changing the track to an almost Raga feel, like an RPI version of Third Ear Band. "Beta" begins with very Floydian vibes sounding like the cousins of Water's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals" before relaxing into a very spacey gem. Light piano notes mix with odd, haunting, distant vocalizations over a strong bass line. It almost sounds like some lost track off of Ummagumma.

"Plancton" begins with a repetitive acoustic guitar sequence under heavy, squirming synthesizer waves. The soft, stoned-sounding voice of Battiato against the haunting backing vocals is really effective. This is followed by a bit of a folky romp that leaves you wondering where the hell that diversion came from. The album is like that. One idea just spills over into the next one, but to my ears is an absolute strength in this case. Rather than sounding incoherent the work takes on the feel of a dream or hallucination, a great listening experience. For some the synths can sound dated but if you love old sounds this will be another positive, hearing someone who really loves to play with the hardware. The finale is the 12 minute "Pollution/Ti Sei Mai Chiesta Quale Funzione Hai?" A beautifully constructed piece utilizing all of the above elements. The ending brings the sounds of both man and Earth weeping (I think) via bubbling noises and crying. Perhaps it is the uniform sadness at the pollution of both. Hard for an English-only speaker to know. But it matters not-this album is about the experience of sound. Like Jacula and other sound experiments it should not be viewed as rock and roll.

This is pure RPI (in spirit, if not in peer conformity) with all of the experimental flair so common in the genre, influenced by spacey English psych and Krautrock I would guess. Battiato's first three albums are all very high quality but different enough to make each essential listening for RPI fans in search of a deep collection. He is certainly more eccentric and weird than the symphonic giants like Orme, so if you are an RPI noob, be warned he may take some getting used to. But if you like outlandish sounds and trippy aural festivities, Battiato will not disappoint you.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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