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Franco Battiato - Pollution CD (album) cover

POLLUTION

Franco Battiato

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.67 | 69 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars In the early 80s Battiato was a pop-star. He had conquered the mainstream public with his combination of folk, classic, psychedelia and disco rhythms plus his cryptic lyrics. I went to see him in a gig in the south of Tuscany and I was surprised when he mentioned Pink Floyd and mainly Syd Barrett as his influencers, as well as the Area. Then he played an excerpt from Fetus, and Areknames-Beta (as a single song) from Pollution. He was alone on the stage with an electric guitar and tapes.

I was expecting a light pop performance but I assisted to a very intense prog event, that's why I got interest in his early albums and because the first two had actually just been re- released in a special-price catalog I bought them both the day after.

I didn't know, and I'm still less informed about the concept behind "Pollution". I have read in other's reviews that it should be inspired to a novel by Aldous Huxley, but I don't know the novel so I'll stick on what I hear.

"Il Silenzio Del Rumore" (The Silence Of The Noise) starts with a recorded waltz with some vocal noises in the background until Battiato speaks. It's a short poetry with a kind of social- political content in the vein of Area that ends with the question "Ti Sei Mai Chiesto Che Funzione Hai?" (Have you ever wondered about your function?) that's also the title of the closing track. After this guitar and organ play a minute of compulsive rock with tracks of psychedelia.

The next 20 seconds are just a passage between the opener and "Areknames". The title is "31 Dicembre 1999 Ore 9" (December 31st 1999, 9AM) and it's between a thundeer and an explosion.

I've read that "Areknames" lyrics are made of meaningless words plus italian words spelled reversed. If this is the case, evan "Areknames" can be read "Se Manchera'"(If it will be missed). Some of the words are "Earth", "Mind" but also the French "Nouvelle Frontiere" or even "Metamorphosis of mind". The music is electronic, quite Krautrock and contains elements of the Battiato to come. The melody is easy enough to capture the mainstream public but the arrangement makes it very interesting. A good song in any case.The coda has a strong electronic RPI flavor (Discordless, Goblin, etc..)

"Beta" is initially made of electronic noises on which Battiato speaks. Starting from the 80s, the avant element will remain in his lyrics while his music will become mainstream. After the two initial minutes it proceeds instrumental with bass and piano for one of the most Floydian things ever made by an Italian. A sort of follow-up to "Careful With That Axe Eugene" that seems coming directly from Pink Floyd At Pompeii. Then the coda is an excerpt from "Svetana".

"Plancton" is opened by a keyboard. I think it's very similar to Bo Hansson's "Lord Of The Rings" in terms of sound. When it stops acoustic guitar and vocals can remind of Branduardi, while the lyrics are about a metamorphosis from man to fish. The sung part is followed by an electronic section whose melody has many folk elements, like an electronic "tarantella". This is really a great track.

Seashore noises open the title track then electronic noises come and go. If it was for this track only I think he may be suitable for Avant. The unusual electronic sounds are jined by acoustic guitar and voices and the result is something that sounds like a 70s horror B- movie's soundtrack. Then he sings with no instruments and just a strong reverb on the voice and when the other instrument join him we are in classic RPI. It's just a moment. What follows is the seashore again and something between interstellar overdrive and the Floyd country songs for Zabriskie Point. The lyrics are very funny as Battiato sings a chapter of a school book of physics over an acoustic guitar base before a spacey coda very close to the Tangerine Dream of the pink period which flows into the closing track.

This one is a piece of organ "disturbed" by spacey sounds on which Battiato cries. Like a psychedelic requiem, a funeral in a submarine church.

Add to this that there's likely a concept behind.

It's a pity that the avantgarde soul of Battiato is survived in his lyrics and not in his music, but I have to admit that I have enjoyed a lot, even his most "pop" things which have made him famous in the 80s.

Not only for RPI fans.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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