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Franco Battiato - Pollution CD (album) cover


Franco Battiato


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.66 | 91 ratings

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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 Battiatoīs first 4 albums. In my review for Fetus, his debut, I described a distinctive larval feel there was to him, and as youīd 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 - itīs a form of intrinsic musicality that emanates from Franco, which makes this music worthwhile, and to put it mildly, if Iīd read anybody writing about a piece of music like I just did - I would think it was bunkers and weird for weirdīs sake. But itīs not - there is always focus on musical journeys with this guy, and that is what makes him so brilliant. Itīs 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 itīs 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, youīll also be introduced to the alarming sirens of an ambulance conveyed through the synths... Again, talking about this guyīs 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 donīt 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 waterīs surface - one faces the enormous kelp forests swaying and dancing to the gentle sounds of Plancton. A song with a name so befitting that itīs 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 wouldnīt 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 Battiatoīs vocals evoking the debutīs 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 youīd 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 Battiatoīs greatest achievements.

Guldbamsen | 5/5 |


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