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Franco Battiato - Juke Box CD (album) cover

JUKE BOX

Franco Battiato

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Battiato could not be accused of playing it safe, and his output in the mid-late 70s is definitely an acquired taste. Juke Box is actually fairly accesible compared with some of his other extreme minimalist recordings from that era. This is pretty much an ambient album of sparse, but not minimalist, compositions, for piano, strings and, at times, female voice. It reminds me occasionally of Harold Budd's work (the piano piece) and Opus Avantra (operatic female voice). Battiato himself sings only one tune over a string section. A very innocuous album, but pleasant, except for the last track, which is a very abrasive violin piece that inspires me to hit the "stop" button on my CD player prematurely. Though nowhere near the top of his discography in terms of "must-have" status, Juke Box is nonetheless mostly a very pretty, meditative listen in the organic ambient field, the sort of thing Popol Vuh fans will like. Don't pay too much for it, though, it's a pretty darn brief album.

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#90892)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
micky
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars From the wild wild world of Franco Battiato comes another 70's exercise in minimalist avant prog. Juke Box released in 1978 after the hit and miss 'Battiato' and before the .....dryness of 'L'Egitto Rrima Delle Sabbie' is actually the perfect place for anyone who wants to dip their little toe into the shark infested waters of the rather imposing sounding area of minimalist avant prog. Unlike the 'Battiato' and 'L'Egitto Rrima Delle Sabbie' this album is not composed of just 2 side-longs. While some people can handle 20 minutes of hearing the same chord repeated over and over.. that can be a bit much for even the typically thick skinned prog fan. Juke Box is not only composed of mulitple compostions, ensuring some variety, but it is also a short album. That is good on several respects for the Battiato noob, less album means less chance of hearing something that will have you funnning screaming into the night, and second of all the album is cheap. I got mine for 3 Euros so IF you don't like it, you can hold your head up high, brag to your friends just how open-minded you are... and not have to beat up poor Johnny to take his lunch money so you can eat the rest of the week.

The album itself brings back pianist Ballista and sopranist Salvelta along with violinist Guisto Pio and a string section drected by Roberto Cacciapaglio. The album is a soundtrack for an Italian TV-movie so the tracks are short of melody and high on atmosphere. Just a couple words on some of the tracks.. beware of Pio's violin 'showcase' Telegrafi.... the 20 minute single piano chord pieces sound like masterworks compared to this. I know Pio is a better player than a 8 year old student of the violin... it helps sometimes to sound like you are. Hey this is avant prog though.. all is forgiven. I do really like the second track Su Scale. Battiato steps out from the creative director chair and lends his distinctive voice to the song. The rest of the songs... not bad.. not great. For one like me who is more a fan of the man rather than the music.. that isn't far from being a complement. Sometimes prog fans just need to sit back and enjoy an artist at work.. even if what he is doing really isn't speaking to us on a personal level. I'd have loved to see Franco grab the old trusty VC3 and go to town.. but hey.. this is prog. He'd been there and done that already.

A note to those who are familar with my reviews.. I do give two ratings. One for my personal enjoyment and one for where I think the album sits in the prog pantheon so to speak. I note that again because I liked 'Battiato' more than this album, but will rate this album higher for the site. The reasons .. I mentioned above. This is an album that is a good entry point into Battiato's avant works. Once in.. if you likey... check out one that I really do like. For me.. 1.5 stars.. For the site.. 3 stars... A good but non essential album and a good intoduction into Battiato's sonic exporations of the late 70's.

Michael (aka micky)

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Send comments to micky (BETA) | Report this review (#122797)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars Can an Italian make Zeuhl? Listen to this album and you'll understand why I ask a question like this. This is a short album released in the middle of the 70s, during the period in which Battiato was more experimental, influenced by contemporary classic and minimalistic music, but respect to the two previous releases (and to the following one) it's more approachable.

Another remarkable thing is that this is the first album on which is credited the violinist Giusto Pio, somebody who will be fundamental in the huge commercial success that Battiato experimented in the early 80s.

The first track, "Campane"(Bells) features a soprano and sounds very Zeuhl, or at least chamber rock. I think there are many cntact points with Art Zoyd.

"Su Scale" is an experimental vocal work that reminds to the solo works of Demetrio Stratos, with overdubbed voices backed by piano and keyboards. The title is ambiguous as "scale" can mean both "stairs" or "musical scale". The outcome is sometimes similar to the traditional Sardinian chant "Tenores" but with a middle-eastern mood.

"Martyre Celeste" is a violin solo on which Giusto Pio puts all his skill. It's based on the harmonics of a single major chord and even with some variations can be intended as similar to Terry Riley's "In C", only very much shorter.

The B side is opend by "Hiver": Soprano and piano. Or better, soprano and some piano chords here and there. Another very experimental song. I find particularly pleasant the short French speech with a reverbered voice in the middle, like the Witch on Gong's Angel's Egg.

"Agnus" (means "lamb" in Latin) is another vocal experiment. Battiato sings with an altered voice a Catholic prayer in Latin with a quite melodic violin background, then soprano and piano make it a sort of classical piece, with the violin playing in a baroque style. The same style that Giusto Pio will use very often during the Battiato's pop period.

"Telegrafi" (Telegraphs) is opened by a challenging violin solo that probably tries to represent the morse code with notes played at different octaves. A minimalist track but try to imaginne Giusto Pio playing it without overdubs.

A good album for those interested in experimental things. Not for travelling by car.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#607817)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Review Permalink

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