Obscurity Points // Franco Battiato
I found out about Italian prog-experimental artist Franco Battiato while reading Merchandise‘s ‘Rising’ interview on Pitchfork, where they claimed his 1972 collector’s classic Pollution “made” their latest album.
While I’ve kind of only started exploring Battiato’s discography, it’s clear the guy was a big fan of sci-fi and the kinds of sounds we would associate with that genre of film – especially the cheesy 70′s stuff. And indeed, his most renown (though not most popular) stuff was made in that era, and proudly sounds of it. However, this isn’t like Tangerine Dream type stuff – as cool as that can be – even when it’s instrumental and exploratory, it sounds focused and highly melodic. But just as easily as it slips into a cool groove, Battiato can jump into something weird with bloops and beeps and whatever.
In the 80′s he sort of sold out in the sense that he actually got really popular and made pop songs with drum machines and shit, but to North American ears it still sounds super weird – maybe Italians are just cooler with weirder stuff or maybe to Italians it doesn’t sound weird. I really don’t know the deal, but the stuff I’ve heard of his from that era – while definitely more accessible than his 70′s experimental stuff – still sounds pretty interesting and I wouldn’t advise anyone to skip it. This is the song he made with some chick for the 1984 Eurovision song contest.
In the 90′s he apparently teamed up with a philosopher named Manlio Sgalambro and they made some heady stuff. In recent years he’s directed some movies, including a movie about Beethoven in which Alejandro Jodorowski – who’s Chilean (and apparently Jewish???) and best known for making the crazy-ass films El Topo and The Holy Mountain – played Beethoven.