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29 Jun 2017

Franco Battiato "Fetus" 1972 Italy Prog Electronic,Experimental










Franco Battiato "Fetus" 1972 Italy Prog Electronic,Experimental

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Throughout my early-90s re-appraisal of Krautrock, umpteen records were pushed my way, accompanied by the comment: "If you like so-and-so, you’ll love this lot." It was the manner in which I discovered the ambient genius of Russia’s Mikhail Chekalin, the rush and roar of Gunter Schickert’s G.A.M., Italy’s Warholian freakouts via Le Stelle di Mario Schifano, the monochrome psychedelia of the lost Czech refusenik ‘ensemble’ M.C.H., plus a whole other raft of strange European bands. I even rediscovered the middle-period genius of Magma’s Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh and Köntakösz, both of which I had loved during my pre-punk teens but never thought to re-visit. But my dedication to defining the lost art of Krautrock meant that many of these other non-German pioneers got lost in the shuffle, as their albums slipped out of pole position and back into the racks marked ‘undefinable’. 

It was only when this amazing 1972 record by Franco Battiato was recently issued in its English language version that I dusted off my copy of the original and realised how much I’d once played it. Bloody hell, I knew every note on the album; and I knew it’s near neighbour, 1972’s sister album Pollution, almost as well.

With the added excitement of this new English version, I decided to turn Fetus into an Album of the Month. It is a stunningly catchy but impossibly strange record which inhabits that nether world of pop music, electronics, politics and experimental rock; a 70s nether world which I grew up with, yet one which takes so many chances that it makes the whole work sound quite timeless.

Fetus is an album beyond all definition. It’s a masterpiece of daring and almost stupid risks that work every single time. Some of my forthcoming descriptions of these songs will appal you – no way can it sound good with the elements he’s describing. But it doesn’t sound good; it sounds great. In little more than half-an-hour, Battiato takes us through eight uniquely super-detailed songs that tug at the heart strings as no other experimental record ever could.

Fetus is an entirely studio album, audaciously psychedelic and sonically estranged in the manner of Kalakackra’s mysterious Voyage to Llasa LP, Witthuser & Westrupp’s Trips und Traume, and the first album by Dalek I Love You. Out of nowhere, acoustic guitar songs reduce themselves to unaccompanied solo piano licks, horde nations of backing vocals rush to agree with the lead vocalist, whilst even the most hoary classical tunes will be commandeered to accompany famous events. Its mystery is in its unashamed use of clichés juxtaposed with thee most un-obvious elements. The best example is surely the Stephan Grapelli-style "Georgia Brown" violin which is used to orchestrate a drum-machine driven psychological song.

From his use of such wide-ranging musical influences, Franco Battiato, is a real mystery, too. Indeed, from the sheer volume and wide range of his output from the late 1960s onwards into the 1990s, Battiato most reminds me of myself. Beginning as an Italian pop singer, Franco Battiato moved into the 70s on the crest of the progressive rock wave, which is where we find him for the recording of both Fetus and Pollution. Battiato was briefly signed to Island Records, and it was during this period that the English language version of Fetus was made. Franco Battiato had plans to make it big in Britain, and played two fairly high profile shows at London’s Roundhouse, supporting first Magma and later Ash Ra Tempel. And it was at this time that Frank Zappa, on hearing Pollution, famously called Battiato’s work ‘genius’.

Unfortunately for us all, the British period of his trip was brief and unsuccessful, probably because of the car crash, which forced Battiato to return to Italy for hospital care. Further British shows with the Japanese artist Stomu Yamash’ta had to be cancelled, as did a proposed tour with John Cage. Indeed, the car crash so affected Battiato’s career that the English language Fetus was shelved indefinitely and he was forced to return to Italy full time.

In the light of Battiato’s subsequent change of musical direction, whether this temporary relocation to Britain could ever have worked with a little more success is a moot point. In the long run, Battiato was far too excited by the musical possibilities thrown up by Stockhausen and the Krautrock scene to stay in song mode for very long, and he soon submerged himself in electronic works such as the more experimental sound of the instrumental LP Clic. Several other such releases saw him in this guise, until he appears to have rejected this method entirely and returned to his first love – the role of pop singer.

Taking a look on his website recently, I was impressed to see that Franco Battiato has sustained a huge output, which has latterly extended into classical releases and even an opera! But the Franco Battiato whom I know and love occupies a narrow seam of early 70s experimental rock, and it is to this period which we must now return.

Fetus begins super-dramatically with "Energia (Energy)", in which multiple recordings of babies crying and goo-goo-speaking fade in stereo through the murk, as a backwards toy room music fades in, reminiscent of Sparky’s Magic Piano meets Sammla Mammas Manna’s classic "Astrids Vision." Then a synthesised and pulsating electric piano announces Franco, who sings to us about all the women he’s bedded and all the babies who have been lost down the drains of Europe in his quest for a good life. Sounds desperate but it’s melancholy in a tragic and uplifting way. Like "Wilhelmina", Peter Hammill’s embarrassingly frank and frankly absurd-to-the-point-of-being-laughable lullaby to his growing daughter, "Energia" employs a chord sequence so obvious that it’s like the first thing you would play as a 16-year old, then probably dismiss immediately. Tom-toms and electric rhythm guitars are accompanied by brassy and out-of-tune polyphonic synthesizers in a mawkishly emotional blitz. Indeed, being out-of-tune elevates the whole fucking thing.

Next comes the short title track. An unaccompanied and heavily reverbed heartbeat introduces "Fetus (Foetus)", as Battiato’s lonely melancholy voice sings, in a single verse, a heart-rending story from the point of view of the unwanted unborn child:

"I wasn’t yet born, and I felt the heartbeat,
And that my life was born in hate,
I drag myself slowly through the human body,
Down through the veins, going to my faith."


As the verse unfolds, understated wa-wa guitar chords and plucked piano strings shudder in the stereo distance. A brutal edit into incredibly beautiful music cuts us short. It’s another lost child’s toy room, this time with a mind manifesting sound akin to that of the Residents’ "Edwina", from their definitive LP Not Available. The music builds quicker and quicker until it is frightening and overpowering, as wailing and howling monophonic synthesizers annex the mix and kidnap it screaming and blindfolded into the mystic night. In two and a half minutes, Battiato takes us from silence to slack-jawed incomprehension. It’s incredible.

Next up comes the cliché of clichés. "Una Cellula (A Cell)" is a Mediterranean sob-fest of mawkish sub-chicken-in-a-basket chords unfit to be outtakes on a Demis Rousos LP. Forever-and-ever-and-ever-and ever-I’ll-beeee-with-you! Or is it? No, it fucking is not. This time in under three minutes, Battiato, rapes our sensibilities with his unholy combinations. He takes a chord sequence reminiscent of true drivel and lends it dignity by playing it in the manner of the truly experimental. It’s here that Battiato enters that shameless Dalek-I-Love-You territory located in outlands so far beyond twee that only the most confident truth seeker may go. By now, he’s the Igneous Fatuus, the Foolish Fire, a Morris dancer who cares not one jot that he appears to the outside world to be line dancing in a stone circle.

"Cariocinesi (Karyokinesis)" is the crazy Stephan Grapelli-styled violin & drumbox-propelled I told you about earlier. What could be more incongruous than a two-minute Gypsy jazz song with staccato Beatles piano about a nucleus splitting itself sung with by a singer who sounds as though he’s saluting the sunrise? Nuff Said. In either English or Italian, this song is unlikely. That it works probably has more to do with its novelty than its being great art, but I ain’t never got bored of it yet because it says its piece then sods off. And pronto, Tonto.

Side one then concludes with the longest song so far, and even this is less than five minutes in duration. "Fenomenologia (Phenomenology)" is a dramatic epic in multiple parts, beginning with portentous minor chorded acoustic and Spanish guitars over which Battiato hums wordless ‘da-da-das’. His voice tells us that he’s living lost and in a fog, until the guitars drop away to reveal a tragic reverbed lonely-mountain-top solo piano and fuzz bass accompanying Battiato’s admission:
"I’ve already forgotten my dimension,
And I have no power standing away from myself."


But Battiato’s fog is clearer than most people’s sunny day. He’s on Carn Ingli living with the angels of the Preseli Mountains, and a squall of Enochean synthesizers comes down from the heavens to meet him. Then more acoustic guitars and plainsong vocals mourn some dreadful recent event and the angels of Carn Ingli wordlessly lament him in a harmony of rhythmless and touchingly formless beauty. Like the deeply felt themes of Acid Mothers Temple’s La Novia, the stereo mix is awash with different voices squeezing deep meanings from ‘da-da-da-da-das’ until the mystery of the mix consumes the human sounds and wrings them out through a sonic mangle like your old grandma use to have in the kitchen.

Similar to the rest of this mystical LP, time has no place in this song. In under five minutes, Battiato has sent us on to the moors where the Triple Goddesses weave and spell. In under five minutes, he has created a timelessness that lesser artists would claim needs a double-LP. In these fifteen minutes of side one, Fetus has greedily gorged itself on more emotions than many modern guitar bands approach in a career. Fuck ‘em all, I say. Fuck their self-pitying inexperienced asses. But then compassion kicks in and I can only wish that every musician could glimpse the moments that Franco Battiato captures here.

Side two opens with the hugely stereo FX pianos of "Meccanica (Mechanics)", in which a ludicrous instrumental piano theme is hammered out with fuzz guitars, screaming synthesizers and high pitched wordless voices all singing the same moronic tune. Until, that is, fast strummed 12-string guitars, more Gypsy violin and obvious/dumb bass propelled by pitter-patter drumbox shoot out over the horizon. This new theme continues at a real pace until dropping right down to 5 miles per hour in order to allow a dryly recorded and claustrophobic Franco to have his say:
"My eyes are mechanical – my heart is made of plastic
My brain is mechanical – the taste is synthetic
My fingers are mechanical – made of Moon dust
In a laboratory – the genes of love."

Perhaps I’m just more moved than most by translated lyrics, but I do find the extreme brevity of these one verse Battiato songs truly moving. His economy of sound and lyrics is stunning, and the way he juxtaposes moods is breathtaking.

In a move reminiscent of the Moody Blues, this whole shebang fades into a banshee choir of female voices which themselves give way into the voices of Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin at their most childlike and excited. As they delightedly scoot around the Moon’s surface, they speak aloud whatever comes into their minds through telephone quality microphones. Over this moving exchange, Battiato audaciously fades in J.S. Bach’s most famous musical piece, here put through delays and given an otherworldly quality possibly through being passed through (I would guess) a VCS3 synthesizer, or something very similar. I know what you’re all thinking, punks. Sounds like cliched doggy-do on paper, don’t it? Well, babies, believe me it’s a truly moving thang!

"Anafase (Anaphase)" begins as a Latin-Bowie-by-numbers exercise, again with the now typical Battiato one-verse’ll-do-me approach to lyrics. Over lonely acoustic guitars, he sings a tune reminiscent of the Bach piece which has so recently faded:
"I will go far away beyond the limits of the air,
Towards the immensity…
Above the astronauts – towards the interstellar stations."

"Space Oddity" meets "Starman" for a few moments, fades out, then fades back in accompanied by military clatter-drums which bring us to a huge piano/explosion. Then we’re catapulted into that low-hum Music-concrete ambient world which Battiato is clearly so fond of. Juddernaut synthesizers stereo trip across the speakers looking for the Clangers, who are staying in their holes, thank you very much. A space ship captained by Pacman lands and brings us the mastertapes of Florian Fricke’s most brief church organ piece ever! Battiato kicks him clean into touch with more ponderous ‘da-da-das’ over pensive acoustic guitars and he’s going going gone.

Fetus finishes with all the hope of a Utopian priest, as the three minutes of the four-chord "Mutazione (Mutation)" build gently around deadly obvious strummed acoustic guitars. Again he’s a Latin Ziggy hovering above planet Earth waiting for his moment. It’s a post-Christian and Von Danikenised still-Christian worldview. But just because that’s ultimately the same as viewing a Picasso from behind a garden fence with a peephole drilled in it, this doesn’t stop a truly visionary artist such Franco Battiato from striking chest-beatingly uplifting possibilities in all but the most cynical of us. I rarely print lyrics in album reviews because they rarely have anything to say outside the music. But, once again, the translated words of "Mutazione" are indisputably poet and true:
"Thousands of years of sleep have blocked me in my cradle,
And now I return.
Something changed.
I’m not aware of signals of life, and yet I’m aware of vibrations.
What will my eyes see next"
There will be stone bodies…
I hear them coming
I hear them coming
I hear them coming
I hear them coming…

It’s the classic Lost Daddy of the Universe-story which has permeated our Patriarchal consciousness for so long. Of course it would be nice to discover that all the world’s problems were just caused by Dad fucking off, and of course it’s highly romantic and unbelievable. But just ‘cause it ain’t true don’t mean Battiato hasn’t given it the kind of poetic truth which allows even this Heathen to, at least temporarily, accept his metaphor and sigh along with everyone else......Julian Cope...............

This excellent 1972 album by former Italian pop star Franco Battiato presents an excellent mix of progressive rock and more experimental, avant-garde tendencies. I think that of his albums, this is the most prog oriented one and along with Pollution (1973) should prove to be very enjoyable for fans of Italian prog and experimental music in general. The original cover to this album is very shocking and was censored. The overall mood of this album is somewhat sad and very eerie.

In general the music on Fetus is comprised of a diverse mixture of progressive rock; lovely and haunting melodies complete with "churchy" sounding pipe organ; soft, acoustic textures (guitar and violin); spacey, VCS3 synthesizer heavy experimentation; some folk music; psychedelic freak outs; and found sounds. The proggy sections really take flight when the whole band kicks in, which is not too often I might add. Franco Battiato provides some good vocals (in Italian), which at times get quite plaintive, although they are conventional for the most part. As a general observation, I would have to say that all of the pieces blend together in an odd, sound collage of sorts, over which Battiato sings.

All in all, this is an excellent album of progressive/experimental/avant-garde music by Franco Battiato and should appeal to most open-minded prog rock fans. As somebody who enjoys progressive rock along with electronic music; the European avant garde; minimalism; serialism; and aleatoric music (e.g. John Cage), this album proved to be a lot of fun to listen to. Very highly recommended along with Pollution (1973) and Sulle Corde di Aries (1973). It is worth noting that Battiato went even further into the realms of the avant-garde and musique concrete starting with Clic (1974) and culminating with L'Egitto Prima delle Sabbie (1978).....ByJ.Park........................

Franco Battiatio is one of the big names of Italian pop. But this is hardly the kind of music that would be found at the Eurovision Song Contest. On Fetus, released in 1972 on the Bla-Bla label, he went for the Italian prog rock sound of the time, and added some really cool VCS-3 synthesizers. If you like Le Orme, you're sure to like this, as Battiato sounds like Aldo Tagliapietra at times, not to mention the occasional acoustic pieces only justifies the Le Orme comparisons. But unlike Le Orme, Battiato liked making all sorts of strange sounds off his synths. "Cariocinesi" is an interesting piece, especially the use of violin, giving it an almost American feel, until you hear Battiato's singing. "Meccanica" starts off sounding like PFM, but then you hear some ELP-like organs, at the end you hear a clip from the Apollo 11 moon landing with Bach being played in the background. Quite interesting music, and if you like Le Orme, Italian prog in general, or experimental electronic mixed with prog, you're sure to like this...........By BENJAMIN MILER...................

Franco Battiato is a character that probably no one can ever properly classify. From the mystifying of the violent Pollution Concerts to the pop punk of the voice of the master, the camaleontic songwriter has made the difference of the password of a career which, however, does not hide any mediaquest. It is rather the story of a spontaneous artistic and human evolution, in the name of perennial escape from clichés.

It's a name that everyone knows, that of Franco Battiato, yet his musical ascent begins pretty badly, with a number of more or less important collaborations, including that with his friend Giorgio Gaber who launches him into a pop duo together To Gregorio Alicata. It is at the end of the 1960s that the songwriter is lucky to come across the ingenious Giuseppe Massara, new-label Bla Bla. The first fruits of this encounter will be the incisors - quite unnoticed - with the Capsicum Red and the Osage Tribes. Just in this period, according to Battiato's words, however, comes the illumination: "in 1969 came the shock: I was on the stage of a Summer Disco and I heard a voice inside me shouting:" Bust on electronics! ".
So since 1971, Franco Battiato abandoned the popular song format to devote himself entirely to experimental music, making constant use of unusual instruments. The first result of this interaction is enclosed in Fetus (1972), where electronic music merges with pop, for the first time in our country: this is basically a concept album written in collaboration with Sergio Albergoni (aka Frankenstein) , Produced by Pino Massara and recorded with the help of a team of experienced musicians. According to cover notes, this work is dedicated to Aldous Huxley and his works, with an eye to "Brave New World" (hence the title of the disc, "Return to the New World"). Like Battiato's pioneering music, Huxley's novel has been able to anticipate the developments of reproductive technology, hypnopedia and psychological manipulation of a dystopian society, where each individual is built into a laboratory. The album then features a provocative cover, by Gianni Sassi, with a fetus resting on a crude cardboard, prompting many merchants not to expose the product. It was years when the debate was still lit up, but Battiato must have a good deal of his career in disputes over controversial issues such as abortion (in this case) or pollution (the subsequent Pollution).

It begins with the title of the breed / fable binomial, a short piece in three parts whose text describes the feelings of a baby slowly forming in the mother's womb: "I was not born yet that I already felt my heart My life was born without love. I dragged myself slowly into the human body, down the veins toward my destiny. " A beating heart then emerges into a vibrating synthesizer VCS3, to its first use in Italy, where only two specimens were sold.
In the dreamy One cell evoke instead blurred images of an uncertain future, guided by the synthesizer and the beat of tom-tom, while in Cariocinesi music and words surreally describe the magic of the process of mitosis through which a cell It divides into two "daughter cells", which are morphologically and genetically identical to each other ("a nucleus divides and two are vines and four and eight are still, in good progression"). It is a biological mechanism that is "perhaps blind or perhaps enlightened by past memory," but this natural sequence may also have been altered by chance, in this trace embodied by the unpredictable effects of the violin.
Energy starts with the voice of some children, then leaves room for some reflections on the role of the case in the reproductive process ("If a child realized that by chance he was born on thousands of occasions he would understand all the dreams that life Gives with joy and lives all the illusions "). After a first acoustic part, Phenomenology comes out in a drum and banjo dance while alienating voice repeats the formulas x1 = A * sen (ωt) and x2 = A * sen (ωt + γ), which can be considered as mathematical synthesis Of the entire theme of the album, being the graphic representation in two dimensions of the DNA propeller.
Mechanics depict a laboratory where the gene of love is manipulated to shape a new form of life. In the final section, it is possible to listen to an excerpt from conversations between Apollo 11 crew (Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin) and President Richard Nixon, on which the "Aria on the fourth string" of Bach. Next is Anaphase, which represents the title of the third stage of the mythic, but in this case the lyrics and the music evoke a interstellar journey.
The concluding mutation finally seems to suggest the vagaries and the birth of the fetus, the births of a man destined to live in a chaos-dominated world: "Millennials of sleep have sunk and now come back, something has changed. I do not hear a signal that announces life and yet I notice there are vibrations. "
In the final judgment, it must be remembered that Fetus was released in early 1972, in an unusual mix of melodious melodies, acoustic textures (guitar and violin) but, above all, an unusual synthesizer VCS3. Although he did not have the commercial impact of his second album, he was acclaimed by critics and recognized as one of the most significant novelties of the progressive Italian of the Seventies, with Franco Battiato himself who will also get the approval of the critically acclaimed Frank Zappa , Which will give the songwriter a pair of wings. Fetus is undoubtedly an avant-garde album, more linked to some of the names of the German Kosmische Musik than to the Italian tradition, but which brings under the spotlight the two aspects that have constantly defined the changing music of Battiato over the years: first, there is His passion for minimalism captured, secondly, his incredible sense of melody........by.....VALERIA FERRO .......

My favorite Italian album, and definitely in my Top Ten of All Time. The perfect marriage of pop and the avant-garde. "Cariocinesi" makes me cry every time I listen to it. Plus, Battiato's got a voice that's as comforting as a warm blanket. To paraphrase Julian Cope's review from Head Heritage, other artists are content to have ten ideas in an album; Battiato crams ten ideas in every single song, and every one of them is fucking great................by....Phallus Dei .............

After some singles in a melodic, commercial style, in 1972 Franco Battiato took a more challenging musical direction for his first full length album on Bla Bla Records blending Italian melody with experimental electronic sounds. The result is "Fetus", a concept album written in collaboration with Sergio Albergoni and producer Pino Massara and recorded with the help of a team of skilled musicians featuring, among others, Gianfranco D'Adda, Gianni Mocchetti and Sergio Almangano. According to the liner notes, this album is "completely dedicated" to Aldous Huxley and his works, in particular to Brave New World, a novel which anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and operant conditioning that combine to profoundly change society. It's subtitled "Ritorno al mondo nuovo" (Return To The New World) and features a provocative, controversial art work by Gianni Sassi.
The opener "Fetus" is a short track in three parts that begins just by vocals and sound effects evoking the heart-beat. The lyrics depict the feelings of a baby who slowly takes shape in his mother's womb... "I wasn't born yet / And I could already feel the heart-beat / Even before my birth / I could feel that I was born without love...". On the instrumental middle section synthesizers come in describing the mystery of life flowing in the veins of fate, then an acoustic guitar arpeggio introduces an almost mystical atmosphere.

The following "Una cellula" (A cell) features a dreamy mood while the lyrics conjure up images from a future where time gets blurred... "My cells will change and my body will have a new life... We will travel around the sun, faster than light / As time-machines against the will of Time...".

"Cariocinesi" (Mitosis) is a strange, swinging track that every now and again reminds me of the Quintette du Hot Club de France of Stephan Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. The music and lyrics describe in a surreal way the magic of the process by which a cell, which has previously replicated each of its chromosomes, separates the chromosomes in its cell nucleus into two identical sets of chromosomes, each set in its own new nucleus, a process that is maybe blind or just "enlightened by a memory without past...". But beware! Chance can alter the process leading to unpredictable effects.

"Energia" (Energy) begins with the voice of some little children in the background and the reprise of the theme of the middle section of the title track. Then Franco Battiato's vocals come in and draw some reflections about the role of chance in the reproductive process... "I have had many women in my life / And in every room I left some of my energy... If a child would be aware that he was born by chance among thousands of occasions / He would understand all the dreams that life can give / And he would live with joy all those illusions...".

"Fenomenologia" (Phenomenology) begins with a strummed acoustic guitar and a dreamy mood... "My mental action is uncertain / The voice is marble and concrete / I live in spite of myself / It's hard to get the control / There's fog around my eyes / The outlines are getting blurred / I've already forgotten my dimension / Unknown forces are tearing me from myself...". Then a second part follows introduced by strange percussion patterns while the vocals repeat the DNA formula. The track ends with a reprise of the third part of the title track

"Meccanica" (Mechanics) is darker and begins with synthesizers in the forefront that bring a sense of tension. Then an acoustic section follows and the music and lyrics depict a laboratory where the genes of love are manipulated to shape a new form of life featuring mechanical eyes and brain, a plastic heart and a synthetic taste. On the final section you can hear the voices of the astronauts of the Apollo 11 and Bach's "Air on a G string".

Next comes the ethereal "Anafase" (Anaphase). Anaphase is the stage of mitosis or meiosis when chromosomes are split and the sister chromatids move to opposite poles of the cell, but in this case the lyrics and music conjure up an interstellar journey. Some spaceships take off towards the immensity - Will man colonize new planets?

The conclusive "Mutazione" (Mutation) seems to suggest the answer for the previous question... "Millennia of sleep have cradled me and now I'm back / Something has changed / I can't see any signal of life / Nonetheless I can feel it / The are some vibrations / I can't say what my eyes are going to see / Perhaps some bodies of stone / I feel them coming...".

Well, on the whole an interesting album with a concept half-way between science-fiction and spiritualism!....by andrea ..................

 The journey begins, - and what a journey! Franco Battiato has made a LOT of records in his time, but this is actually the best place to start IMO. "Fetus" would show signs of what was to come, from one of the most original and influential musicians out of the Italian prog scene during the 70´s. It pains me to see this album with a rating under 3. Not that I pay much attention to the ratings, but I certainly have found my fair share of incredible albums due to high rankings and general praise surrounding the given release( well I´ve been falsely swayed too - just for the record...).
"Fetus" is Franco Battiato´s first album and it shows. There is a playfulness and a childlike energy accompanying this release, and much like the sole album of Semiramis - it rather ads an unwieldy amount of quirky charm, instead of letting it fall flat on its face. The music is a combination of soft acoustic guitar, the beautiful voice of Battiato, and the ever present VCS3, that he would go on to use on his next 3 releases. I really love the way he plays that thing. Shifting from larval like textures - sluggishly creeping and crawling, - to high pitched squeeks sometimes approaching avant-garde territory. I also believe that "Fetus" employs an electronic rhythm device, such as you would hear on "Journey" by Arthur Brown´s Kingdom Come a whole year later. Aside from that, this is his most acoustic work, and at times it sounds like a very Italian folk album. Melody wise we are not far from the late sixties. Then again, some of the melodies here sound like lullabies you would sing to a child - only for the song to turn around with some creepy effects of that of early horror movies and scare the the living daylights out of the poor kid. The whole larval sound of this album is very much a Battiato trademark, which he would develop further during the next couple of years. It sounds strange, but this is the closest I can get to describing that special spice he flavoured his early servings with. On "Fetus", this enhances the whole embryonic feel of the record, whether you choose to look at the cover art or the clever introspective lyrics dedicated to Aldous Huxley (for once in my life, I have read the translation of lyrics in my RPI!!!). Even if you are indeed a non-speaker of Italian who has lost the gift of sight, - you will probably pick up this highly original characteristic of his.

By using "Fetus" as background music for the end of summer, the album transforms into an epilogue of the season, intertwining both blood red leaves and icy breezes with Battiato´s trembling voice. Making this album change course completely, bringing with it a mystical utopian reversible birth. -I love music that surpasses its own creators intentions. Though not a masterpiece, I can easily forgive this album for its, at times, rather bulky and clumsy way of fitting the musical jig saw pieces together. Beautiful and bulky - always standing in the shadows of its descendants...... by Guldbamsen .....................

This is the first album from Italian singer/songwriter Franco Battiato. He would later on be known for his pop songs(his background) but he started out his career releasing weird albums that just got weirder. He was one of the first Italians to experiment with synthesizers and some of the music on this album is very ahead of it's time. Fetus is dedicated to writer Aldous Huxley and the cover (cute isn't it?) was originally censored. This does sound like someone's first attempt at making an album, although that's part of it's charm. Franco I believe does all the keyboards and vocals, while others do the rest.
The music here is not your typical RPI fare and in some cases probably has more in common with Prog Electronic or Krautrock than most Italian prog. The album begins with the sound of an actual heartbeat, as opposed to the bass drum mimicing a heartbeat that ELP and Floyd would do not long after this was released. A great melody on synth is played for the majority of the title track; it gets reprised later in the song "Energia." "Una Cellula" is probably the best song and you can listen to it on PA. Great synth sounds and melodies, especially after the first minute. This song is almost entirley synths, percussion and vocals. Nice soloing on synth at the end.

"Cariocinesi" features some old time sounding music; early jazz style guitar and some early country style violin playing. Along with some electronic percussion. Not really any synths at all in this song. "Energia" opens with children talking before that cool melody on synth from the title track is reprised. About a minute and a half the music fades out and is replaced by a new section. More good synth soloing. Some organ at the end. "Fenomenologia" begins with acoustic guitar playing something I've heard before in a much later song. Later on some pounding drums and banjo while Franco does some of his best vocals on the album. Towards the end is some nice acoustic guitar and what sounds like speed altered 'mmm, mmm, mmm' type vocals.

"Meccanica" opens with a repeated figure on a keyboard. It is followed by a melody and later on some drum rolls and vocals you would find on Il Balleto di Bronzo's Ys album. The music fades out and changes to acoustic guitar, electronic percussion and violin. Some bass joins in. Then organ. Franco's vocals are modified and you hear backwards sounds. A little burst of fuzz guitar in there. Awesome yet creepy ethereal voices give way to NASA astronauts talking about the moon. What sounds like an old record of Bach music is played over top. A highlight of the whole album.

"Anafase" begins with vibraphone and vocals before acoustic guitar and background harmony vocals. Nice piano melody. As usual by now, the music fades in and out, being replaced or joined by synth sounds. Then a piano crash similar to Floyd's "Sysyphus." It gets really quiet and spacey in the middle. Near the end some organ is played and the music stops. Then more acoustic guitar playing the beginning of "Fenomonologia." "Mutazione" has great guitar chords. More pounding drums later. Probably the most 'normal' sounding song on the album.

This is some great RPI but I'm not sure what fans of PFM or Le Orme would think of it. Definately on the more experimental end of Italian progressive rock. His next couple of albums are similar but more refined. The music can be spacey, melodic, folky, symphonic or just plain weird. One of the best prog releases from early 1970s Italy. 4 stars........by zravkapt ...........

FRANCO BATTIATO is known as one of the most popular pop singer / songwriters in all of Italian musical history having covered everything from new wave, new age and beat as well as venturing into other arenas such as free jazz and musique concrète, however his origins were much more rooted in the world of experimental electronic music and in the early 70s began releasing his own albums which fall into the world of progressive rock beginning with his debut album FETUS. This album was released in both Italian and English and is a concept album about the development of, yep, you guessed it? a gestating FETUS! It does however seem that the tracks are moved around depending which album you are experiencing. Personally i ALWAYS prefer Italian bands to sing in their native language because not only does it sound more natural and less stilted but the Italian language was created to sound friggin great and especially beautiful on more complex progressive pieces where the operatic vocals soar like eagles.
By the time BATTIATO got to recording his debut release he had already become quite the sensational songwriter and it's quite clear even from this early experimental stage of his career how he was able to carry on into becoming a pop sensation in his native land. FETUS is the perfect balance between catchy hooks in mostly a rock and folk styles accompanied by lots of electronic effects and progressive touches that make FETUS a true pleasure to experience. Laced with classical music as blatantly heard on "Meccanica," FETUS takes extremely strong melodies and contorts them into bizarre electronic coated rhythmic dances that meander from folk guitar passages to organ fuzzed out psychedelic frenzies. BATTIATO's vocals are quite powerful as are the brilliant arrangement that juggle dynamics, tempos and genre characteristics like a top performer at a Cirque du Soleil show. While the time run is a mere half hour, each track packs a punch with a wealth of ideas and changes crammed into every nook and cranny.

While i haven't experienced the English version, i can tell by the music that the theme that begins with a human heartbeat continues to evolve much like a gestating human in the womb as the tracks add more layers of content although are fairly short in duration. FETUS comes across as a typical Italian progressive rock album of the era with pastoral passages trading off with more bombastic ones along with BATTIATO's vocal bravado in full operatic style in the forefront. While there are plenty of experimental touches, they take a backseat to the strong melodic developments and only exist to enhance the overall song structures, not impede them. FRANCO BATTIATO created his first gem with his debut FETUS and despite appearing on the tripper's guide to psych, the Nurse With Wound List, FETUS is actually a very accessible album for the pop sensibilities are already quite developed in BATTIATO's early stages. In fact i would probably consider this progressive pop rock more than anything but labels matter not to me when music is this beautifully sublime......by siLLy puPPy ..............

Director of cinema, painter, philosopher, singer-songwriter and above all musician. Franco Battiato is one of the most eclectic musicians in the Italian and worldwide music scene. His style has gone through the love song, protest song, experimental music, opera, progressive rock, electronic music and we could continue talking about genres that the Sicilian singer-songwriter has explored in depth, since it is not only about loose themes with Which has been experimenting, but whole albums. He could be defined as a scholar of the arts in general, for example his approach to painting is due to an experiment of self-analysis and improvement trying to demonstrate that the artistic ability of painting is not something innate (as some experts say) , But can be learned and improved over time. In the case of music, their eagerness during the seventies was largely due to the arrival of new technologies and how to adapt them in a natural way in different musical styles. During this time he published several discs in which electronic sounds were mixed with traditional instruments and involved texts generally existentialist, metaphysical and even scientific. Already in the eighties I would return to the traditional song, although always with some of these elements that I have commented and would reach international fame, arriving in Spain to record discs in Castilian version.
Franco Battiato, from my Italian roots I knew him from a very young age but the first thing I remember hearing are songs already known as Voglio Vederti Danzare, Nomadi or Centro di Gravità Permanente, but I discovered his most experimental time thanks to a friend of my brother who Recorded a ninety-minute tape in which the first side were songs from the first four albums he edited in this style. At first I can not say that I liked it, but neither did I dislike it, it was rather the impact of something that had nothing to do with what I knew of him. After time I loved that tape and in one of my trips to Italy I bought the four albums those complete.
Fetus is the result of the different concerns that the young Battiato was prey to. Exploring in electronic music (a bit in the sense that Pink Floyd would do), to biology and the fascination with living things and cosmology were the pillars of this first full-length Sicilian musician, where you can see that everyone The titles are related to genetics. It is clear that Franco Battiato wanted to impact and at the beginning he achieved it with the famous cover in Italy that aroused controversy and caused many record companies to remove the album from the shelves, but Fetus is a song to the initial moments of life . The order of songs from the original vinyl edition to the reissue in compact disc was modified, the reason I do not know, although I think the original was better but here we refer to the one that can be found today.
The album opens with Fetus, the sound of heartbeats accompanied by a reflection of the fetus during her stay in the womb. In Una Cellula the concept of song is similar, this time a metaphorical reflection between human life and that of a simple cell of an organism, accompanied also by sounds of synthesizers. In Cariocinesi (karyokinesis, is the initial phase of mitosis) this time experiences with a kind of progressive jazz. Energia, which was originally the first song, contains two parts; The first a small children who speak and the second is a reflection on the miracle of life. Phenomenology is a very interesting song, in this case it leaves aside the electronic music and with accompaniment of acoustic guitar and percussion it repeats two mathematical formulas: x1 = A * sin (ωt), x2 = A * sin (ωt + γ). This represents the mathematical formula of the DNA helix represented in two dimensions, life in a single word. Meccanica is a small twist to biological issues and focuses more on artificial life and cosmology and on which there is a tribute to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) and concludes with the sound of The recordings of the American astronauts when they first stepped on the Moon. Anafase is another phase of mitosis and in which again the song has two parts, an acoustic and a second that surrounds us in a kind of alien atmosphere, full of small sharp sounds although it could well be a soundtrack of the process of The mitosis. At the end, the acoustic notes that link to Mutazione, the most traditional song of the whole album symbolizing that moment in which the fetus is about to leave the maternal womb and the reflection of what awaits him, are resumed.

At the time his sales were not bad, but over the years Fetus has become one of those cult records especially for those who are passionate about high-stakes musicals...........ESTIMACIONES SUBJETIVAS MÚSICA......................

When an artist is so large that he is able to create masterpieces in styles of the most diverse he runs the risk of becoming popular precisely because of the less interesting side of his career. Something like this happens to the character that we bring for the first time to the blog.

There are few things that Franco Battiato has not done in music. From the song protest to the opera through electronic experimentation, progressive rock, pop, techno-pop or his participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, his talent has always found a way of expression in every moment. Let's start almost at the beginning with a Battiato who had published a few singles in the traditional wave of the Italian song of the time (suffice to say that it came to compete with Albano Carrisi in some radio competition that won, of course, the latter) . At that time he met Juri Camisasca collaborating with his progressive rock band. Together with them, he recorded "La Convenzione", a strange collaborative album in which Franco and Juri appeared separately plus one from Osage Tribe, Battiato's first band.

In 1972 appeared the first disc signed by Battiato under the title of "Fetus" and subtitled "Ritorno al Mondo Nuevo" in homage to the novel of Aldoux Huxley "A happy world" and, more specifically, the compilation of essays on the Same that the own writer published a couple of decades later titled, precisely, "Return to a happy world". The disc is a conceptual work on the artificial reproduction used in the novel and to her they refer the majority of the titles of the same one. To give form to the idea, Battiato uses the most avant-garde resources of the moment: synthesizers and other electronic equipment, composition techniques learned from the most advanced musicians (remember that he came to work with Stockhausen at that time) and a formal framework We could fit into the more risky "progressive rock".

Gianfranco D'Adda (drums, percussion), Gianni Mocchetti (guitars, bass, choirs), Riccardo Rolli (guitars and choirs), Pino Massara (keyboards), Alberto Mompellio (keyboards), Sergio Almangano (violin) and Rossella Conz (voice). Battiato himself sings and plays electric guitar and synthesizers.
"Fetus" - The CD (not the disc as we will clarify later) opens with today's topical resort of using a heartbeat as a central rhythm. Battiato sings a couple of stanzas about him before going to the heart of the subject, presented by the raw sound of analog synthesizers of the time. Helped by electric guitars and percussions they draw a very interesting passage that concludes with a short acoustic piece.
"A Cellula" - The second cut more formally looks like the typical melodic song of the sixties, but electronic arrangements have a personality important enough to push that idea away from our mind. The final part of the song is a good example of this with very good percussion that perfectly accompanies the synth solo.

"Cariocinesi" - The next cut in which rock'n'roll is mixed with jazz and synthetical effects and even some folk touch does not reach the two minutes. An exquisite rarity in which especially the violin and the double bass in a duet full of rhythm.

"Energia" - Really the vinyl record in its original edition began with this cut in which children's voices are combined in the beginning with the main melody of "Fetus", the piece that on CD occupy the first position of the tracklist. After a brief pause we enter the central part of the composition in which the voice of Battiato is combined with rhythms and sounds reminiscent of the first Kraftwerk, contemporaries of this recording.

"Phenomenology" - With a series of guitar chords in the purest style of Pink Floyd or, why not, Premiata Forneria Marconi, begins one of the best songs of the album with a Battiato perfectly recognizable even by those who only have as Reference his best known albums of the eighties. As in all work, the songs have a lot of variations and this includes a strange chorus in which the artist sings repeatedly the equation that defines the shape of a sine wave just before we enter a psychedelic electronic passage that concludes in a way Similar to how the subject began minutes earlier.

"Meccanica" - Perhaps the most experimental piece of the album. Synthesizers and unleashed percussions draw a landscape of the flourishing progressive rock of that time that ends in a somewhat run over in a second part in which the electric bass and violin present the central theme that later develop the keyboards. A brief vocal intervention is interrupted by a new electronic "riff" and both scenes will alternate for a few minutes with the final incorporation of ghostly choruses that seem taken from a work by Ligeti. The reference seems to us less casual when we hear chunks of conversations from Apollo XI astronauts combined with classical music (in this case, J.S.Bach). It is inevitable then to think of "2001" by Stanley Kubrick, an influence more than probable, given the little time that had elapsed at the time of recording the disc since the film's premiere.
"Anaphase" - More spatial references appear in the texts of the beginning of the next cut, as avant-garde as the previous one and composed, in fact of several micro-subjects that could well have had separated titles (something applicable, in fact, of the disk). The electronic sounds are on par with those used by the German synthesizer pioneers at the time and, in fact, would go unnoticed on any of the first Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze albums. Even the use of the organ in the final segment is very characteristic of the styles of both. Closing the piece we hear again a reference to another of the previous cuts of the disc: "Phenomenology".
"Mutazione" - Concludes the work with another memorable song in which we have all the elements of the most advanced music of those years in the field of popular music: Floydian guitars, progressive rock percussions, psychedelic choirs and electronic effects Front row. All this adorning an exciting "in crescendo" that puts the end point to the disc in an unbeatable way.

We are very struck by the fact that in the CD edition we have of the album, it comes labeled "sperimentale 72-78" and also that three of the eight cuts of the same come dated in 1975 when according to all the references we find , The album was published in 1972. We do not know if this is because some of the versions of our edition correspond to later re-recordings of those same cuts.

With this precision in mind, we want to end by expressing our great admiration for Franco Battiato as an artist and thinker. In his musical side he has been able to do great things in completely different genres achieving success in the most unsuspected way. Also those "pop" albums of the eighties that gave him fame in our country seem extraordinary but it is the first stage of his career, the one that opens with "Fetus", the most fascinating of all and that, surely, dedicate More tickets in the future. If you have not had the opportunity to enjoy it yet, we highly recommend it........................

Line-up / Musicians 
- Francesco Battiato / synthesizers, VCS3, drum machine, lead vocals 

With: 
- Sergio Almangano 
- Gianfranco D'Adda / drums 
- Alberto Mompelio 
- Gianni Mocchetti 
- Elisabetta Pezzera 
- Riccardo Pirolli 
- Rossella Conz /voice

Tracklist:

1. Fetus - (2:39)
2. Una Cellula - (2:55)
3. Cariocinesi - (1:59)
4. Energia - (4:31)
5. Fenomenologia (3:51)
6. Meccanica - (6:11)
7. Anafase - (5:36)
8. Mutazione - (2:58)

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