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Franco Battiato

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Franco Battiato Pollution album cover
3.65 | 100 ratings | 14 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Il Silenzio Del Rumore (2:48)
2. 31 Dicembre 1999 - Ore 9 (0:20)
3. Areknames (5:07)
4. Beta (7:25)
5. Plancton (5:03)
6. Pollution (8:49)
7. Ti Sei Mai Chiesto Quale Funzione Hai? (3:35)

Total Time 33:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Francesco Battiato / lead vocals, VCS3 synth

- Mario Ellepi / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Ruby Cacciapaglia / piano, VCS3 synth
- Gianni Mocchetti / bass, vocals
- Gianfranco D'Adda / drums, timpani, Fx

Releases information

Artwork: Jerry Casone with Mario De Paoli (photo)

LP Bla Bla ‎- BBXL 10002 (1972, Italy)
LP Sony Music ‎- 88697608991 (2009, Italy)

CD ARTIS Records ‎- ARCD 026 (1991, Italy)
CD Water ‎- water174 (2006, US) Remastered (?)

Thanks to Alos for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FRANCO BATTIATO Pollution ratings distribution

(100 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

FRANCO BATTIATO Pollution reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by andrea
4 stars This is probably the most "easy and accessible" album of Franco Battiato's "prog period".

The first side of this LP is a kind of "suite" with all the tracks bound to each other. "Il silenzio del rumore" (The silence of the noise) begins with the echoes of a waltz in "Strauss style", then comes Battiato's recitative voice ". Ti sei mai chiesto / Quale funzione hai? = . Have you ever been wondering / What is your function?". Then a "percussive" rhythm guitar and a church organ lead to the sonic explosion of "31 dicembre 1999 - ore 9". Then the keyboards introduce the theme of "Areknames", that goes on with strange vocals and "experimental" lyrics (written in "reverse style": for example Areknames = Se mancherà). On "Beta" you have sound effects and recitative vocals that lead to a "mystical mood" while a piano play some notes of the previous theme "Areknames". The conclusion of "Beta" is a philosophical question on an orchestral carpet: "Dentro di me vivono la mia identica vita dei microrganismi che non sanno di appartenere al mio corpo... / Io a quale corpo appartengo? = Inside of me live my identical life some micro organisms that do not know that they belong to my body. / Me, what body do I belong to ?".

On the second side you have three more experimental tracks : the interesting "Plancton" with a kind of "space tarantella finale", the less interesting "Pollution" and the final weak instrumental "Ti sei mai chiesto che funzione hai?". In the whole I think that this album is an excellent addition to any prog collection !

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Somewhat in the line of his debut album, Franco Battiato did make an interesting second record without falling into the trap: making a duplicate or making a negative film of his "successful" (all things considered) debut work. With an interesting citrus artwork, this album like most of his early ones have disputable production values (in terms of quality of sound, but musical choices also) as Massara and Tissico had butchered Capsicum Red beforehand, but here the job is correct, if far from perfect. Needless to say that the Artis CD reissue is straight from vinyl, since we hear two distinct pops and a few more crackles, and they're lucky that Mr Kellogg has never heard of these albums or else the lawyers would have a field day. But enough complaining, because what we have here is n highly original (and totally whacked out) album that goes opposite of the vast majority of Italian prog of those years. For this Pollution FB's group have lost their "sound makers" and gained two more musicians also doodling with the VCS3 synths.

Starting on a very shaky symphonic orchestra line (Silenzio), then suddenly shifting into a basic electric guitar punkish strumming, underlined by a gloomy organ (ORE 9) and ending in thunder-like sounds, Battiato like to lose his listeners from the start. Not that the music makes much sense so far, and one has to wait halfway through the third track Areknames for the album to really start: just as the canon chant praising Arek's names (I tried ;o))), the album takes a turn for the better and gains comparison with Fetus. The start of the 7-min+ Beta is an incredibly weird Terry Riley-esque atmosphere until Franco's piano pulls a line that even Rick Wright would've loved to claim his own. Needless to say that D'Adda's drumming sounds like Mason and the whole thing has a great Floydish scent: this track would not be out of place between Saucerful and Atom Heart Mother.

The flipside start on the Plancton track, on which hearing, Terry Riley would've sent his lawyers (busy law firms keeps the organized crime in business) and is a goodie and the best of this side of the slice of wax. The almost 9-min title track is clearly the album's centrepiece (but not the highlight, imho), starting on waves sounds and sounds of waves (clearly the VCS3 is the album's star instrument) for a long stretch before dissonant Battiato guitars and out-of-tune choirs and weird cheap "Moog-like" sounds and other odd ditties.. Bubbles sound announce the very quiet and closing track, which could emanate from Umma Gumma, except for the irritating sobbing sounds heard throughout.

Mostly FB's early albums have kept enough charms for progheads to keep listening and starters to discover, but Pollution like many other of his early albums have not aged well, partly due to disputable production. Still worth discovering and the odd spin now and then, though!!

Review by micky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pollution, the 2nd album by Battiato was released in 1972 the same year as his debut album Fetus. As noted by myself and others a more accessible album to traditional fans of rock. The album was a step forwards from Fetus.. and yet a step sideways since from here on... Battiato would take the experiences and direction of Fetus.. and head straight for the heart of the Sun that was L'Egitto prima delle sabbie.

A step forward here? oh yes.. take an afternoon and listen to his albums chronologically. Fetus was mainly a showcase and a first draft if you will for Battiato and his minimalist aspirations for composition and instrumentation. His VCS3 was the 'star' of the album... other instruments were mainly for texture other than the violin of Cariocinesi. Here, both compositionally and of course in instrumentation Battiato has stepped forward. Here he has a traditional band whose instruments often fill in the spaces. Want to hear how the bass guitar works in the context of Battiato's music. For the 70's at least.... look here... for you probably will find little to no bass in any of his albums. Electric guitar.. again... rarely.. and those mainly for texture.. not for riffs or as a structural part of the composition. Drums... as noted in Fetus.. we had some tom-tom work... but want to hear cymbals crash better hear it here. So this was a step forward for him in his musical explorations..


until he moved into the realms of more popular fare.. you would not hear it again so a step sideways if you will. For Sulle Corde di Aries, his next album, would take Fetus.. and improve upon it 100% and then go from there.

Pollution was an album that resonated critically and commercially. Reaching the top 10 in Italy and as I noted in the Fetus review gained a fan of none other than Frank Zappa who gushed about the brilliance of this album and Battiato's work. Much of that can be attributed to to the quality, which transcends all his albums, but the accessibility of the album. The album starts with Il Silenzio Del Rumore which has a Strauss waltz Battiato comes in with some narration... and suddenly.... bam.... the piece explodes into a thundering guitar and drums riff which then is joined by a MAJESTIC organ sequence which is blown apart again and goes into Areknames with a his trademark and trusty VCS3 providing a stately intro before going into the vocal melody before a hair raising synth that rises just as a tornado warning might hit you across the Oklahoma plains. Which will put stand your hair on end trust me hahah. Sounds SO good with the volume all the way up. The vocal harmonies and interplay on this track are simply wonderful. Again.. his taste for melody is simply incredible and songs like this just stay with you long after they are finished. Beta is next... oh my do I love this song. Begins with some wacky VCS3 synth and Battiato's singing in a rather distinctive if he were shouting something out for all to hear. Interesting.. but it fades to a killer bass and drum rhythm with celestial voices like from heaven dancing all around the groove. Some sweet piano playing then comes in, some e-guitar drops in as well and makes for a simply great listening experience. Especially again.. because this is simply so damn different from the rest of what he did. The next song Plancton is in two sections, a VCS3 and acoustic guitar piece that is not bad but for me is the first drop down in quality as far as this album goes, then finishes with with a synth fury. Pollution, the album's title track is next with acoustic guitars, repeating vocal chanting, blaring synth calls, GREAT singing by Battiato. My favorite vocals parts next to Areknames and a nice e-guitar solo. The solo fades to nothing then we have a psych section with aquatic themes with brings us back into the opening sections of the song with the acoustic guitar minus the blaring VCS3's. Ti Sei Mai Chiesto Quale Funzione Hai? brings us to the close of the album but keeping the aquatic theme with a ghosty symphonic melody played over top which bring the album to a close. wow.

Now for ranking this baby.. hard to do... For the site.. giving it 4 stars. Not quite essential for prog fans to consider it essential and I am leaning towards giving Sulle Corde di Aries a 5th star since it has been received so well by prog fans of all stripes. What hurts Pollution as far as ranking it as a masterpiece is it's unique nature.. it really is unlike the rest Battiato's work.. and more like others. 4 stars. For myself. the same 4 stars. A wonderful album with some POWERFUL moments and I find the contrast this album represents fascinating. Highly recommended and may be the best place for new fans of Battiato to start.

Michael (aka Micky)

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars Franco Battiato is a daring composer on Pollution, often drifting off into another segment as if he couldn't care less about the one he is currently working on, ending build-ups just when they appear to be leading to something or just ignore the concept of smooth transitions altogether. He makes spontaneous music. Or at least deceptively so, since it's actually as far from improvisation as you can get. Add to that a dimension of theatricality and a twisted, confusing model of combining some sort of scrambled storytelling with effects, samples (as in a snapshot from a ballroom drenched in waltz or sounds of the ocean) and spoken word and you're left with quite a mess.

Pollution is difficult that way, in that you never really can piece together the whys, when and hows, even though this is supposed to be one of Battiatio's most accessible efforts from the 70s. Instead of making music the "proper" way - trying to convey impressions or expressions, the music on this album is best described as a dream sequence. It's the musings of an unconscious mind, random pieces of a puzzle that still manage to make sense working within the logic that only dreams can have. The collection of cold electronic soundscapes, nostalgia and slowly wandering, relaxing (kind of spacey) pieces sometimes possess an icy precision and elegance, sometimes fuzzy warmth and often minimalist and slightly avant-garde tendencies. It's hard to get under its skin, since Pollution always distances itself from the listener in one way or another. Perhaps that's the greatest feat of them all.

Instrumentation ranges from full rock setting, with drums, bass and guitar working together with keys and creating sounds that all prog fans should be accustomed to, but never expect a particularly normal ride just because of that. They're mostly here to build a foundation, and are seldom noteworthy as anything but that. It's the synthesisers, mostly the VCS3, that make most of the noise here. Sometimes buzzing electro burst in mechanical coordination and bubbly space effects and sometimes magnificently rising above the rest in towers of sound, but rarely in a mere background role. The vocals are also a reflection of the fractured nature of the album, ranging from the introductory speech of Il Silenzio Del Rumore, via the triumphant chanting and hypnotizing phrases of Areknames, the subdued and soft words of Plancton to the group effort on Pollution.

This is an album which is best just moments after you've finished it, when you try to analyse what you just heard and realise that it's a lot more to it than you think at first. Complex, intelligent and refined. After all these spins I can't I love it. I know I like it, but above all I'm fascinated by it, and in the end that's what Pollution is all about.

3 stars.


Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...

A very famous singer/songwriter/composer in Italy,FRANCO BATTIATO was born near Catania in Sicily and he moved in Milan at the age of 20.After recording a few pop songs he formed ''Osage Tribe'',a psych/heavy prog band, in 1970 with whom he released only a single,before quiting.1971 sees BATTIATO focusing on his personal career and presenting his first solo-effort ''Fetus'',an uneven work of different styles and definitely an experimental sound with questionable result.The same album was released a year later as ''Foetus'' with english titles.1972 was also the year of the sophomore BATTIATO work,''Pollution''.

Maintaining his experimental inspiration but with a more accomplished style this time,BATTIATO presents a great blending of experimental/avant-garde music through good use of electronics with the typical rock instrumentation,featuring also heavy doses of piano and organ.Some tracks also offer female chant-like vocals,doubled by deep bass work and psych guitars,while others are definitely over-the-top experimental and minimalistic with electronics in the background and obscure vocals by BATTIATO.Acoustic guitars are also present with a dark sound in a couple of tracks,accompanied by superb vocals and bizarre synth sounds...and yes,there are also some fine instrumntal passages with nice electric guitars and great rhythm section parts to please any sick rock-head!Anyone after some weird effects and obscure electronics but also lots of influences and rock musicianship should approach without hesitation.FRANCO BATTIATO belongs among the most daring musicians of the world and ''Pollution'' deserves much of your attention.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars A distinct improvement over "Foetus", "Pollution" does provide continuity both in overall sound and in its thematic priorities in synch with the burgeoning political and ecological concerns of the early 70s. As before, some of the synthesizer beeps and burps sound more dated than those of contemporary English prog, but here he begins to flex his ethnophile muscles in a manner that would come to even greater fruition on his third disk.

One of the main melodic themes is first introduced in "Areknames" and brilliantly carried forward on acoustic piano in "Beta", with a traditional proggy bass backing and eerie vocalizations. While Mario Ellepi's electric guitar is mostly overshadowed by electronic keys, he does make a few appearances including on this track, which is overall the strongest piece on the disk. Link with PELL MELL - Smetana's "Moldau" theme kicks off the opening track and is revisited at the end of "Beta". The blend of acoustic guitar with synthesizers in "Plancton" engineers another hypnotic piece with variations on a theme, but supplemented by Battiato's own sultry voice. The title cut coalesces the acoustic dimension while adding vocal echoes and other effects.

Fascinating in its own right and indisputably groundbreaking, "Pollution" gets the Battiato treatment and ultimately lays out an amorphous path without taking us to a destination. For many, the journey will be all that matters.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I knew this would be good when the Gnosis site rates it as the 41st best Italian album of all time. Of course Franco's follow-up to this (his masterpiece) is rated even higher. His VCS3 synthesizer is all over this album, in fact four of the five band members play synths.This is a concept album that is fascinating on many levels. It's one of those albums that is very interesting to listen to and it certainly holds my attention throughout. I love how spacey and dark it can get making it feel like i'm in this dream.

"Il Silonzio Del Rumore" opens with Classical music and laughter. It sounds like we are listening in on some musical or something. It changes 1 1/2 minutes in as we get guitar, organ and experimental sounds taking over.This is great ! It blends into "31 Dicembre 1999-Ore 9" where we get a loud explosion right away. "Areknames" opens with keyboards then the vocals eventually join in around 2 minutes followed by vocal melodies. It's experimental before 3 minutes. Excellent track. "Beta" is haunting to start as almost spoken vocals come and go. A beat takes over after 1 1/2 minutes. It's spacey as well.Piano joins in. We are tripin' people ! Love this stuff.Guitar after 5 minutes. A change before 7 minutes as spoken words and what sounds like strings take over to end it.

"Plancton" has relaxed guitar but aggressive synths that build.The vocals after 2 minutes are very psychedelic sounding. Lots of atmosphere too. Synths to the forefront before 4 minutes. "Pollution" opens with the sounds of waves rolling in. Strummed guitar and affects join in.Vocal melodies after 2 minutes.The synths get loud after 3 minutes then it settles with vocals before picking back up. It calms right down after 5 1/2 minutes.You can hear faint sounds and it's dark. Strummed guitar and vocals before 7 minutes then that dark calm ends it. Amzing tune. "Ti Sei Mai Chiesto Quale Funzione Hai ?" is spacey and haunting as the sounds of someone crying can be heard.

4.5 stars and if you want to check Franco out then pick up this one or the follow-up album which are his best.

Review by seventhsojourn
3 stars 'Pollution' is the sister album of the preceding year's 'Fetus' and like its predecessor it was inspired by the novel 'Brave New World'. One of the tracks here is 'Beta', a clear reference to the system of castes in Huxley's dystopian society. A Beta was happy because he didn't have to work as hard as an Alpha and because he was more intelligent than the other castes: 'I am happy to be a beta, my day is not hard... gamma and delta obey me'. During the closing section of 'Beta' we hear a sample of Smetana's 'Vltava' and interestingly enough the Czech composer's melody was adapted from an Italian 16th Century madrigal 'La Mantovana'. Some of the lyrics on 'Beta' seem to reflect the idea that every man is two men; that while we sleep we are awake elsewhere: 'Inside of me live the same micro-organisms that cannot belong to my body... I belong to which body?'

In Huxley's novel characters are often identified according to their class where the emphasis is on the production of automatons, and this is reflected in Battiato's lyrics: 'Have you ever wondered what function you have?' This is a recurring theme and the question is repeated throughout the album. Individuals are stripped of their humanity and become the incarnation of their social functions. Loss of individual identity and degradation of manhood tie in with the overarching concept of pollution and the degradation of the environment. And the pessimistic message of 'Il Silenzio Del Rumore' seems to draw comparisons with the dystopian society and large corporations. Amid the silence of the noise of pressure valves, heat cylinders and production tanks Battiato declares that 'you do not have the power to change your future for fear of discovering freedom that you do not want to have.'

Battiato also draws inspiration from Italian pseudoscientist Pier Luigi Ighina who hoped to divert mankind from disaster. Ighina was the founder of the Centro Internazionale Studi Magnetici at Imola and the title-track's lyrics deal with equations, electrical fields, magnetic gas and hydrogen atoms. A message on the album cover heralds 'Pollution' as 'sound gestures in seven acts dedicated to the Centro Internazionale Studi Magnetici' and the cover also displays a notice issued by the centre on 25th September 1972 that related to an earlier experiment. Ighina believed he had been contacted by extraterrestrials that had given him an important mission to regenerate humanity into a state of health. Perhaps this has something to do with the rather puzzling 'Plancton' where the protagonist has lived in the ocean for two centuries and learned to breathe in the water: 'My hands became scaly, below the sea my structure changed. And my body is more like a fish, my hair turns to seaweed.'

The lyrics of 'Areknames' are written in a seemingly strange language but most of the words are simply back to front Italian. The general theme is something about planet Earth's clouds changing the frontier of man. The leader of the extraterrestrials, Scegustori (an anagram of Gesù Cristo), warned that if mankind did not adjust to nature instead of destroying it then man would succumb to some final action. Ighina believed that electromagnetism was the crux of nature and existence therefore he built a large magnetic stroboscope. He conducted an experiment at Imola on 12th September 1972 where he hoped to open a gateway to the extraterrestrials' UFO and thereby prove his theory of magnetic rhythm that would save humanity. Needless to say the experiment was at best inconclusive and at worst a failure.

The music on 'Pollution' is largely experimental and electronic, weird and full of incoherent moments but also approaching space-rock and Krautrock at times. It's also deep with meaning and the music just seems to click with the concept. 'Pollution' is about as far away as you can get from the Italian symphonic progressive music I love, but is nevertheless highly enjoyable and is arguably one of the most significant albums of the RPI sub-genre.

Review by Guldbamsen
5 stars A musical dream

Ever sat in the garden watching the myriads of tiny lifeforms crawling around - creating a fascinating living natural floor before your eyes? In many ways this image corresponds very well with the sounds of Franco Battiato´s first 4 albums. In my review for Fetus, his debut, I described a distinctive larval feel there was to him, and as you´d probably expect by now - I should say something along the lines of a grand metamorphosis - transforming this slithering cocoon into a magnificent butterfly. Alas no - there is a vast and unfathomable beauty to my main man Franco, but comparing him to the effortless flights of a butterfly is like comparing the Dalai Lhama to Angela Merkel. No - Battiato retains his highly original style, but on Pollution he elaborates on it, perfects it - and in a way that you will most likely feel. -As if you were indeed fusing with these incredible tunes from the undergrowth.

Like a deeply schizophrenic person, this album starts out completely confused with spoken Italian phrases accompanied by a symphony orchestra playing a waltz - for then to explode into a barking pre-punk guitar riff with a disoriented psychedelic organ rambling away.

I love his style, and to explain why is beyond my powers - it´s a form of intrinsic musicality that emanates from Franco, which makes this music worthwhile, and to put it mildly, if I´d read anybody writing about a piece of music like I just did - I would think it was bunkers and weird for weird´s sake. But it´s not - there is always focus on musical journeys with this guy, and that is what makes him so brilliant. It´s like walking drunk through a maze with only a mere lighter as illumination. You will have to tread through these waters alone - making up your own mental images from behind your eyelids. Take Areknames for instance. You have the larval VCS3 pounding along sounding like it´s sliding down the walls (sometimes he plays that thing like others pour paint over surfaces), a nervous almost doo-wop sounding choir made up of 3 or 4 different Battiatos - each with a slightly altering vibe singing Aaaa Aaaa Aaaareknames, - and a psychedelic guitar that at times pops in to point the way - giving off what just might be the actual melody. In between all these things, you´ll also be introduced to the alarming sirens of an ambulance conveyed through the synths... Again, talking about this guy´s music is truly like dancing about architecture.

The adventure trudges along on Beta, which starts out like a cutoff dream. Voices through a mist - yelling in a language you don´t understand - and then like a white unicorn emerging from the haze - the drums starts banging away - still sleepy from the dream, together with a raw piano strumming naive one fingered melodies. What really gets this track going though, is the vocal choir that suddenly breaks through this dreamy state - and what initially sounds like a teenage boy singing da da da - quickly turns into an image of a long lost merman serenading beneath the seas luring innocent little girls into the water.

Once pulled underneath the water´s surface - one faces the enormous kelp forests swaying and dancing to the gentle sounds of Plancton. A song with a name so befitting that it´s uncanny. You feel guided in between giant snakes of seaweed bobbing along to the current of an undergrowth synthesizer, which at this point of the record now is deeply embedded in your head. A Laser gun in sounds from within. When Franco finally starts singing, it sounds so apt and true. His trembling voice is beautiful, and the way he uses it on Plancton is so fragile, that I wouldn´t be surprised if he was weeping in the studio at the time of recording.

The title track kind of sums up all the different pieces here in a powerful medley, that sweeps trough everything spanning from acoustic guitars with Battiato´s vocals evoking the debut´s folky elements, - a blistering guitar solo that splits up in two and starts talking to each other, and an inhuman moog solo which mid song slices its way into the song - starting a wild rampage of thundering drums and a deep bellowing bass. The track ends on a very delicate and fragile note, and you wonder if you´d just imagined the wilderness preceding it.

Finally you are escorted kindly to the door by hazy mumbling synths - occasionally burping electronic bubbles. A tormented soul yearns and cries in the back as the soundscapes intensify, and you exhale with vigor and take in what most likely ranks among Franco Battiato´s greatest achievements.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
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.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars A fragmented experimental album which is surprisingly listener friendly. Battiato's voice is really quite nice and the recording is helped a lot by the fact that he sings in his native tongue.

'Pollution' lacks the craziness of it's predecessor 'Fetus'. It begins off with an orchestral waltz then veers off in all sorts of unpredictable directions. From spoken word, tenuous prog leanings, VCS3 usage, some nice acoustic guitar to ambiance in the style of UK band 'Caretaker', all within its feeble 33min 09 sec running time. Phew!

The VCS3 synth, although pretty cool at the time and most famously appearing on 'Dark Side of the Moon' sounds really cheesy in this day and age. Battiato sounds as though he's struggling to get to grips with this new technology and ends up playing what sounds like single line notes.

'Pollution' is like a weird mixture of Faust and Ash Ra Tempel but with better production and more use of electronics.

Not a bad way to spend half an hour if you're out for a walk . At least you're guaranteed of something a bit different.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Before FRANCO BATTIATO ventured off into minimalism and eventually new wave pop to become one Italy's top performers, he released a couple experimental progressive rock albums for his first two releases. FRANCO BATTIATO's second release (as simply BATTIATO) pretty much follows in the footsteps of his unique style as heard on the debut "Fetus" except that this one lies more in the electronic world and a clue as to where he would take his music, that meaning that the compositional layout of catchy hooks is still present with abrupt changes in genre styles, tempos, timbres all within the confines of keeping a strong melody going, although there are a lot more synthesizers on this one along with the bass, guitar and drums. BATTIATO and three other band members also contribute to a barrage of sound effects on the VCS 3 Synthesizer which leaves a very rich sounding album filled with all the cutting edge technicalities of the day including Rick Wakeman inspired synthesizer workouts.

Starting out what sounds like period piece classical musical from a previous century, it sounds as if we've visited a ball in the 17th century with Mozart as the headliner but after an explosion signals a change over it quickly becomes a jittery guitar riff followed by a haunting organ run that builds up to heavier rock. Once again an explosion changes over to a VCS 3 Synthesizer run that wouldn't sound too far off on an 80s new wave album although this one is kept within a classical music context. By the time the album gets to "Beta," it slows down with a groovy Floydian bass line along with a crafty piano run and freaky background vocals that create a seven minute plus space rock track but ends with a reprise to the classical ball music as the album begins.

POLLUTION is anything but dirty! It is a really pleasant experience to let unfold around you as one addictive track cedes to the next. There are lovely arpeggiated guitar sections such as on "Plancton" that add atmospheric keyboards and once the purely Italian vocals enter the scene sounds much more like the Italian kings of the scene such as PFM or Banco reminding from whence they emerged in the world. Again replete with daring keyboard solos kept within the context of the melody but creating synthesized polyrhythms that complement each other beautifully. The title track has a rather Krautock type intro with UFO type flying sound pulsating from synthesizers while waves crash against some unseen shores while echoey guitar strums gently stroll in as the synthesizer sounds short circuit out. What a way cool intro! It becomes a nice folky guitar piece as the vocalists all begin to sing to the heavens!

This is one of those albums that has all its ducks lined up in the right rows. It has just enough melody to reel you in and keep you hooked but so many surprises and unexpected twists and turns that it's impossible to lose your attention. While firmly placed in the Italian scene during the vocal parts, the beauty of POLLUTION is how pan-continental it sounds during the instrumental parts as BATTIATO takes all the magic of bands like Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Yes and even Ash Ra Temple and Tangerine Dream and puts it all on the work table for a new sort of musical beast making. Just as good as the debut in a totally different way and somewhat points in the direction of the next album "Sulle Corde Di Aires" that really took the plunge and went completely in the progressive electronic arenas.

Latest members reviews

5 stars When Battiato wasn't yet a popstar, he wrote some experimental works, and i think this is one of the best he ever made. It contains really good tracks, with a short-suite title track. Time ago I listened only his big successes, and when I discovered his first works, I was amazed. This is one of ... (read more)

Report this review (#137729) | Posted by paloz | Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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