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Lucio Battisti - Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno CD (album) cover


Lucio Battisti

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3 stars I have to begin by admitting some bias. Lucio Battisti led me to RPI and I love his 60s/70s output, so I do have a soft spot for his work.

Umanamente Uomo: il Sogno is not as progressive as say, his albums Il Nostro Caro Angelo or Anima Latina but does have songs that move beyond his usual inventive rock/pop arrangements. 'Prog-related' is perfect for many of Lucio's albums and this is easily one of his best works.

The album is a mixture of the baroque-feel pop/rock and stirring ballads with some progressive moments thrown in. See his biography here for a fantastic explanation of where Battisti fits in to the progressive movement in Italy.

The opener 'I giardini di marzo' and '...E penso a te' are both wonderful ballads, especially '...e penso a te' (a song he and Mogol wrote for pop singer Mina). where the gentle piano opening leads to a crescendo that really demands you sing along.

The remaining tracks are great pop songs, though the gentle 'Umanamente uomo: il sogno' with its whistling lead in place of words, is perhaps more of a long interlude, and it isn't until the end of the album that we get the two most progressive pieces. As Battisti worked mostly within the singer/songwriter tradition, both 'Sognando e risognando' and ' Il fuoco' are very interesting in the context of the album.

'Sognando e risognando' is the hardest rocking song on the album, with its insistent riff and powerful vocals. It has more of a 'rock band' feel than other songs and includes elements that seem typical of a pop rock song - a short solo, a chorus and verse structure for the most part. But it also has a long intro with just the bass drum, complex vocal counterpoints, duets with a female singer in the chorus and the solo placed at the very end of the song, and from what I've had translated for me, some odd lyrics. But it's the track I keep coming back to again and again and again.

Looking at the darkness of the sleeve art, with its glare of fire and dark limbs, the general feel of the album doesn't quite match. It's definitely not as dark as it suggests - until you reach 'Il fuoco,' which is a disturbing four minutes. Perhaps something of a guitar experiment in feedback and wah-wah, with its distorted moans from voice (cries for help?), it's a harrowing way to end an album and most 'un-pop.'

For fans of the Italian singer/songwriter tradition or those interested in the fringes of progressive rock in Italy. Four stars from me, but as a progressive rock album, perhaps three is better.

Report this review (#457903)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1972 with the wonderful hit single "I giardini di Marzo"/"Comunque Bella" it was quite clear that Battisti was at the top of the glory.

It was then when he start to distrust of music press after he was victim of unpleasant incursions by unscrupolous reporters. So it happened that he began to refuse interviews and live exhibitions.

This album includes immortal classics of italian "canzoni": first of all the above mentioned "I Giardini di Marzo" (memorable acoustic guitar and melody), "E Penso a Te" (piano and romantic soft vocals), "Innocenti Evasioni" (nice electric guitar solo) and "Comunque Bella" (hammond organ).

There is also a humoresque piece, "IL Leone e la Gallina" where love between man and woman is compared to a lion hunting a hen.

Title track is a whole instrumental piece where melody is only whistled and there's room for some ocrhestral movements.

The two songs of some interest for a RPI lover are "Sognando e Risognando" that many know well already, being the theme upon which FORMULA TRE based their magnum opus that very same year (1972). Battisti's original version is softer and shorter.

The album's closer is another instrumetal track: "Il Fuoco", the most innovative Lucio had ever crafted until then (guitar's noises, obscure and creepy vocalizings, crackling fires...). I don't know exactly what Battisti was looking for... different from all the other numbers. Many reviewers have pointed out some krautrock influence.

Report this review (#563166)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a bit of a Battisti hiatus, I return to review his fifth album, "Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno." Like his previous album, "Il Mio Canto Libero," this one lacks some of the crossover appeal of his first three albums; however, I would guess that the average prog fan will find more to like here than on "Il Mio." However, like all Battisti albums, there's really no bad songs, and fans of his music in general who aren't necessarily looking for prog should consider this a worthy addition to their collection.

"I Giardini Di Marzo" starts the album off with some folky guitar. Battisti's vocals come in after only a moment, sounding much less bombastic than usual. These two elements are quickly joined by some equally understated strings before the sweeping chorus begins. To my ears Battisti's voice sounds a bit more strained than it has in the past, though that could be my imagination and in any event the song certainly doesn't suffer as a result. Some electric guitar and keyboards enter after this largely string led chorus, creating quite a nice texture under Battisti's voice. A great opener and to my ears sounds this one sounds quite reminiscent of the later RPI bands, though it's structure isn't as proggy.

"Innocenti Evasioni" begins with what sounds like electronic keyboards before some bass and guitar enter. As Battisti begins to sing some more interesting keyboard effects are added, which creates a very interesting sound once strings are added for the chorus. The song doesn't deviate too far from this verse-chorus pattern, though there is a very nice string- backed guitar solo that closes out the song.

"E Penso A Te" is a much more classic sounding song, with only some soft piano present in the beginning of the track as Battisti sings. The piano remains as the sole instrument for the first part of the song, which actually works astoundingly well since it allows Battisti's voice to speak for itself (no pun intended) with no distraction. I never cease to be impressed by the power and emotion Battisti can put into his voice, something I've said before and will probably say again. The song moves away from this piano accompaniment in the second half, however, adding percussion, strings and a host of other voices for a wordless chant. All this fades away in the final moments of the song to leave Battisti chanting alone, which fosters a rather haunting atmosphere in the final seconds.

"Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno" is next, and it begins with some guitar accompanied only by whistling. The ever-present strings soon entered, along with some wordless Battisti vocals, before these strings take a shot at the melodic lead. This lush melody continues for a bit before the guitar-whistling combination comes back, and finally the strings close out the track. Because of its primarily instrumental nature, "Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno" is a great middle point for the album, giving the listener a moment of wordless beauty before the second half of the record begins.

"Comunque Bella" follows this Entr'acte of sorts, and the song sees the organ appearing at the forefront. A wonderful chorus is the centerpiece of the song, featuring bombastic percussion and a great, sweeping melody in contrast to the minimally arranged verses. Overall it's a very laid-back song, with Battisti's vocals coming off as very relaxed, even during the chorus.

"Il Leone E La Gallina" has a much more whimsical feel to it, pairing Battisti's voice with an acoustic guitar that almost recalls tin-pan alley music at times. There are also some vocal overdubs on the track, which is rather unique given how scarcely the technique is used by Battisti (at least on the albums I've heard thus far).

"Sognando E Risognando" is the second song on the album over five minutes, and it begins with some solo percussion before Battisti's voice enters, matched by a solo acoustic guitar. After this brief introductory section, however, an electric guitar riff takes over along with some bass and Battisti turns out his rockiest performance of the album. Interestingly, a female voice is featured in a kind of "call-and-return" section with Battisti, marking the first time I can recall of another voice from Battisti's being featured instead of being merely backing. A variety of different motifs throughout the song make it by far the proggiest track on the album, one that no doubt could have fit right in on the classic RPI albums of the 70s. The song finishes off with another great guitar solo.

"Il fuoco" closes off the album on a decidedly different note. Far and away the most experimental track on any of Battisti's first five albums, "Il fuoco" makes use of distorted guitar noises layered on top of each other in a way that's almost reminiscent of (dare I say it?) Fred Frith. Hopefully that conveys just how drastically different this track is from pretty much everything else I've heard from Battisti, and while it's a great and interesting track, it does feel a bit out of place.

Overall, "Umamente Uomo: Il Sogno" is a bit of a mixed bag. While there certainly aren't any outright bad songs (there never are on Battisti albums) the album lacks the dynamism and charm that made Battisti's first two albums so appealing, and while it's a step up from the too- homogenous, utterly un-prog "Il Mio Canto Libero," it also lacks the true spirit of experimentation that made "Amore e non Amore" so good. If you're a Battisti fan then you'll no doubt enjoy this, but I'd recommend that the average prog-fan not start with this one from Battisti.


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Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Review Permalink

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