Jordi Batiste - Fotofòbia - 2001
Jordi Batiste is like the last and living proof of a far brilliant past and a relic appearing from dark just like a ghost divining new musical tunes. This man is or was one of most creative elements of prog-rock from Catalonia. He was the lead singer and the composer of the catalan and mythical band called Maquina!. A group that together with Fusion was a pioneer of the “Laietano movement” (the name given to the catalan prog-rock movement in the seventies) and that released records like the famous Why?, one of the first progressive albums in Spain. It was a mixture of Pink Floyd from the beginning of the seventies and that lyrical psychedelica that leaded to a kind of freedom and experimentation that was coming mostly from England at that time.
After that such a interesting time, the progressive music vanished and most of the bands and musicians dissolved. Many people disappeared from the musical scene and never contacted again with the musical market, and that’s something totally understandably, as the music has been some kind of junk since then. Anyway, Jordi Batiste has been cooperating in these last years with some musicians and bands that have had some relative success among the catalan rock fans, and that has allowed him to regain his work and releasing it again.
Last year he did this "Fotofobia". A record that was released only in Catalonia and that was promoted strongly, with a good promotional campaign followed by a video clip that presented a fantastic piece full of energy, good guitars and nice vocal work that was called “Cada dia és més difícil”. The lyrics are written in Catalan except the latter that is half written in english. The album talks about people, places and urban little histories. This experimented musician has mixed again different kinds of rhythms, songs of different tunes and different colors. The compositions are decorated and guided by an environment created out of using instruments such as violins, trumpets, accordions, mandolins and many guitar registers. It’s not a pure prog-rock record, but all the songs have got something to do with it. It’s a work focused on the simple songs not the development of long instrumental passages. It’s like a chocolates box plenty of little and simple sweet things.
The musicians that work on this record are Jordi Batiste (lead voice, samplings, programming, composing and lyrics), Francesc Bertrán (guitars), Manel Vega (bass), Simone Lambregts (violin, mandolin), Adela Batiste (voice), Caty Plana (accordion).
“Radioaktivitat” is the piece that opens the record. It’s a delicious dark-tuned piece and sounding melancholy. A half acoustic song with a emotional voice, violin and guitar. “Ballarem junts” is a more cheerful composition with stimulating rhythms and a sharp-played acoustic guitar. “Cada dia és més difícil” is one of the best moments. Its movement and delicate waving form creates a very nice passage. Is an approach to the old formulas, a perfect progression to some Hacketian-guitar end. “Negra nit” is again a sweet and green acoustic cut with accordion.“Oh, dona” is maybe one of the most simple pieces with a simple guitar riff and a simple melody. With “Preciós estel” the voice of Mr.Batiste transforms surprisingly getting to some opera tunes. “Canço de capvespre” is an excellent remake of a popular song of a famous songwriter from Valencia called Raimon. A jazzy version with a great trumpet work that together with the percussion give shape to an interesting piece. “Hotel de comfusió” captures the progressive style mixing the standard rock with a choruses that sound exactly like a mellotron, so emotive. “Sal i estels” is a traditional composition with folk flavor.“Rosa de foc” is a fast take dedicated to the city of Barcelona with a good keys and happy lyrics. “Dolça malaltia” closes the CD with a precious vocal and mid-tempo melody.
The return and appearance of this musician was something that I couldn't let pass and I think any of the catalan prog fans shouldn't let go. It’s not a progressive music album, it’s a CD done by an smart musician, a musician with thousands of good vibrations and good intentions. A record that I recommend and I hope someone else discover it and enjoy it with the heart.