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Franco Battiato - Gommalacca CD (album) cover


Franco Battiato


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.17 | 29 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars At the end of the 90s Battiato finally manages to obtain a fusion of his electro-pop vein and his prog and classical influences. Let me remind of the pyschedelic, electronic, krautrock and experimental albums of the 70s.

The result is a very pleasant album with some appeal for all the kinds of public that he has.

"Shock In My Town" has less hermetic and cryptic lyrics than usual. I like writing of this because Battiato has recently been fired from his political role in his Sicily for having said something "too clear": in an interview he said that the Italian parliament is full of whores, intending people who sells himself, abd the sentence has been used as pretest to fire him. Should he have used the language of his songs nobody would have had this opportunity for firing him. Back to music, this song has a background of classically arranged strings and electronics but the mood is dramatic, very far from his light pop of the 80s. There's something in this sing, maybe the repetition of chord passages "A- F" which reminds me to a long invective launched by another Italian artist, Giorgio Gaber, many years before: "Io Se Fossi Dio". Only the chords. The two songs are very different each other.

"Auto De Fe'" features an unusually heavy guitar but the chorus is very electronic instead. It's a song lighter than the first, even in the lyrics but it's surely not a pop song.Something which needs some listens to catch all the instrumental aspects inside it.

"Casta Diva" is the title of a song taken from the Bellini's opera "Norma". In the opera it's a prayer of a druid priestess. This song is very melodic and I don't see in the lyrics a clear reference to the opera, but consider that all I know of opera is based on Zeuhl so I can't really write of Bellini.

"Il Ballo Del Potere" (The Dance of the Power - intended as political power) it's a sarcastic parody of a "rain dance", speaking of moving from right to left then stop a while in the centre... then he speaks of rituals from Africa and Australia, I think to underline the different behaviours. However he confused a ritual from Papua New Guinea with Aussie Aborigens. The song has a lot of editing, loops, recordings and effects. Good song.

"La Preda"(The Prey) is very melodic but the passages are not trivial and I hear remains of the Battiato's krautrock period. Those two coexisting elements make it appealable for both the pop and the prog Battiato listeners. I won't comment the hermetic lyrics.

"Il Mantello e La Spiga"(The Mantle and the Ear) is the most appealing track for proggers, the one closer to the old Battiato. Based on minor chords, dark and with a rhythm that's slow and obsessive at the same time, like the "Rajaz" of Camelistic fame.

"E' Stato Molto Bello"(It has been very good) is another very good track. Slow and bluesy, I don't know why, it makes me think to Pat Metheny, probably for the background guitar in suaturation.

"Quello Che Fu"(Once It Was) Has initially a classical mood but is also a bit experimental. Luckily, his pop period has gained to Battiato a lot of fans who are used with his typical sound so that even a bit of experimentalism can be digested by his mainstream public.

Another lazy song with a rhythm similar to Metheny's Last Train Home is "Vite Parallele" (Parallel Lives).This tempo and the vocals are a Battiato trademark, but if you isolate those two elements, this can sound like a typical italian pop song.

"Shackleton"..I had a colleague with this surname, but I don't think it's dedicated to him...jokes apart, this is the most experimental track, including speeches, and telling a story without any hermetism. It's the southern version of Lord Franklin's story, at least is very similar, as story. Musically it doesn't have anything to do with the traditional(I think) made famous by Pentangle. With this song, understanding Italian helps a lot as you have effectively a story to follow, but I think that even without taking care of the lyrics, the 8 minutes of this song have something to transmit to the listener. This is the Battiato that I like more.

I can'tconsider this album as a prog masterpiece but it surely deserves all the 4 stars that I'm using to rate it. Was it made of "Shackletons" only, it would have been 5.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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