I have to, I must, set up an upcoming series I’m going to share with y’all. What better way to prepare you for this than with a song from Sicily’s finest: Franco Battiato. You know how I said the French, when they want to, can produce some of the most out there music anywhere? Well, leave it to the Italians to always find some way to one up them somehow in that department. Franco Battiato’s “Energia” off his Fetus album, released in 1971, is another one of those so far ahead of its time you can’t believe it was done in its time Italian songs (and the album itself as well). Lemme play a game of spot the influences: Zappa, Silver Apples, some Dylan, maybe some Caravan, or Curved Air, ah forget all that…this is just stuff that Franco knew no one was ready for and hardly existed before. I mean, here was a guy who came from the school of musique concrete, and electronic composition but wanted to create his type of pop songs.
Check out the video of “Energia” below. You’re greeted with the sampled sounds of children talking over bird noises, then this ghostly synth comes in as you get plunged into Franco’s cantata which draws from existing North African traditions and he joins all that with some not-even-yet created cosmiche rock guitar sounds. The track by itself is pretty astounding for its time, and that goes for the performance of it as well. Simply look at the either highly annoyed or utterly dumbfounded faces of the people in the crowd, surely they weren’t ready for this sound…All of this leads me to always ask: what in the heck was going on with Italian musicians then and what more gems are out there to mine? Give me a few more days, and I’ll conjure something more substantial to share.
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