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Lucio Battisti - Anima Latina CD (album) cover

ANIMA LATINA

Lucio Battisti

 

Prog Related

3.83 | 35 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Anima Latina, if you boil it down (and read the title!), is all about the search of a certain spirit. As lofty and silly as it sounds, this quest for a common cultural denominator or something commonly or vaguely recognized and familiar via a Romanic point of view, is an exercise that is ultimately doomed to overreach in one way or another. Being something as elusive and pretentious as that, the results are at best divisive in terms of quality and at its worst more or less a complete waste of time for the "ordinary" prog fan.

Lucio Battisti is not a run-of-the-mill progressive artist regardless of point of view, but he brings with him a care-free and warm sense of experimentation that stretches the singer-songwriter idiom way beyond where it initially was meant to strike home. Digging deep in the rich and fertile soil of the Italian peninsula's musical traditions and blending the finds with a home-cooked mix of different Latin musical traditions, a fair amount of the predominantly atmosphere-generating-symphonic-progressive (phew!) tendencies of his home country and a good deal of recognisable and catchy singer-songwriter hooks, Battisti manages to rise above this evidently quite crowded musical cauldron and deliver a decently interesting, but above all, extremely vibrant little piece of art. Does proto-world-music-crossover-prog ring a bell?

It is partly achingly unfocused, partly Italo-saccharine, partly melodic-abusing throw-away schmaltz. And still it is an album that manages to win me over on its side during each and every play-through. In part this is due to the charming percussion work all over the record; a fun-filled aural spice which is both elegantly crisp and charmingly obtrusive and now and then even a bit silly. In part this is due to the welcome addition of brass and flute, with especially the first leaving a unique and lasting impression on the music. In part this is because of the sometimes cheeky but always flowing and elegantly enriching keyboard sounds;working just as well in the background as up front, and which surprises you by taking over the scene completely from time to time, drifting away on waves of (surprisingly) elegant ethereality. In part this is due to how available and catchy the basic canzone-type singing and song-writing is, and that subtle guitar work that constantly bubbles underneath the warm, lively, airy and - above all - rich tapestry of sounds that constitutes the cosmetics of Anima Latina. In part this is because of the (yes - surprisingly) groovy propulsion on some of the tracks one encounter during this neat little musical trip. In part it is because of the schizophrenic changes in tempo, mood and melody that permeate the entire disc. In part it is because of the loosely held-together theme hanging by a thread of sometimes cleverly, sometimes obnoxiously in-your-face re-used phrases and sections.

To be fair (and a wee bit glib) it is contrived, cryptic and a bit cramped (not unlike this review). It contains as much dogged, safe-and-sound nostalgia as it does new and fresh influences. But, yes, I really, really like it. Because if you find it in you, you will not only find a sort of pseudo-intellectual mash-up of traditional Latin sounds, prog, pop and ambience, but one of the most exuberantly vibrant, joyful and diverse albums in the whole tradition of Italian music that happens to be included on this site. And in that grand, swirling piece of (for Battisti, perhaps for anyone) artistic overreaching and full-throttle, all-out, fish-out-of-water, progressive experiment one vital taste lingers after each and every play: that of a sound palette being somewhat too muddled, diverse and cumbersome for its own good, but delivered with such earnest, power and creative joy it ends up being nothing but charming through and through.

4 stars.

//LinusW

LinusW | 4/5 |

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