Franco Battiato

Inneres Auge [Il Tutto E' Più Della Somma Delle Sue Parti]

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Inneres Auge is another peculiar addition to the enigmatic Franco Battiato's catalog. Apparently released for contractual reasons, the album is part extended single and part rarities compilation. Inneres Auge contains only four previously unreleased songs (three new originals and one cover), the remaining six tracks consisting of four alternate versions of songs that already appeared on preceding albums and two otherwise unavailable B-sides. While Inneres Auge's subtitle is "The whole is more than the sum of its parts," it is open to debate whether this odd compilation fulfills its promise, as the difference in styles and themes can be a bit disconcerting, particularly coming from an artist who often works on conceptual projects. Of the new material, the title track placed at the beginning of the album is ostensibly the main reason for this release, a scathing invective against the moral corruption of the Berlusconi regime that halfway becomes a paean to inner spirituality as a defense to the evils of this world. It is more shocking in its oddity than good, but kudos should be given for putting out such a single in a country where most of the media is owned by the song's main target -- not surprisingly, "Inneres Auge" can rarely be heard on Italian radio or TV, even if the album is one of the season's strong sellers. On the other hand, the other new track that is similarly straightforward but written in English, "Tibet," about the Chinese oppression of the region, is almost embarrassing for an artist as sophisticated as Battiato. As for the alternate versions, these are not too different from the originals, which is not a bad thing in itself since several of these songs are truly beautiful -- "Un'Altra Vita," "Haiku" -- but offer few surprises for Battiato's faithful followers. The true gem of the album, however, is the cover of Fabrizio De André's heartbreakingly gorgeous "Inverno," thanks to Battiato's moving vocal performance and a string arrangement that arguably improves upon the original.

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