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Franco Battiato - Pollution CD (album) cover


Franco Battiato


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.66 | 91 ratings

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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.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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