ARTIST: FRANCO BATTIATO
LABEL (YEAR): Bla Bla (1972)
FOR FANS OF: EUGENIO FINARDI, FAUST, STEVE REICH
Words by Stef Fiorendi
Franco Battiato, also known as 'Il Maestro', is considered the pioneer of Italian new wave and progressive rock.
Despite the fact that he actually reached commercial success in the early 80s with a number of synth pop/electronic melodic hits (such as La Voce Del Padrone in 1981), Pollution, released in 1972, remains one his most significant works and a staple record of experimentalism.
Battiato has always been passionate about philosophical, religious, existential and culturally exotic themes regarding the human condition, and these are wisely explored on this album.
In particular, Battiato focuses on the topic of pollution (‘ti sei mai chiesto quale funzione hai?’ – ‘Have you ever wondered what is your function?’), and avoiding preachy critique, he takes the listener on a journey through Earth and the universe. The voyage starts with a joyful Viennese waltz, some delicate and evocative words that are abruptly interrupted by an obsessive, gritty guitar and a medieval organ. A sudden explosion of sound is followed by a surreal krautrock inspired melody. It reaches a psychedelic metaphysical elevation in ‘Beta’, then dives into the abyss in ‘Plancton’, mixing electronic modulations with delicate religious vocals and traditional sounds. The odyssey ends with some distressed moans and eventually a silent celestial leap into space, drawing closer to the obscure and mysterious meanings of life.
OK, that sounds like an epic effort, an endless peregrination, but I promise, it all happens in 33 minutes.
This is an ambitious concept album yet it is the sophisticated composition that makes it such a success. A highly inspirational record that will make you sit and think about your place in the universe.