Review Summary: The most mature work of the Sicilian master
In 1993, Franco Battiato has just concluded his period most closely linked to classical music and to the enhancement of the more spiritual aspects of his own vision of the world: from the rarefied melodies of "Fisiognomica" to the lieder of "Come un camello in una grondaia", passing through the experience of opera. It is therefore not surprising that "Caffé de la Paix" is affected by this ethereal and mystical climate. To this, however, is added a recovery of the electronic elements that had characterized the synth-pop masterpiece "Mondi lontanissimi", which introduce carpets of synths and obsessive and hypnotic samples.
So far, we could speak of a "normal" Battiato album, in which the European classical tradition (represented by the instruments-symbols of classical music: viola, cello, oboe, etc.) crosses the innovations brought by modernity (kosmische music , the New Wave with its meandering guitars, the lesson of Karlheinz Stockhausen ...). Caffé de la Paix, however, is known for being first and foremost the most important Italian world-fusion album (together with the magnificent "Creuza de Ma" by the legendary Fabrizio De André). And in fact in this work Battiato recovers the suggestions coming from the Middle Eastern tradition (already present in "Fisiognomica") and extends them, combining them with ideas coming from Japanese, Persian and Greek music, in an authentic kaleidoscope of sounds and timbres: the viola joins the tabla, the oboe joins the tambura.
The most notable fact is that a similar richness of sonority is developed within short compositions and compositional structures typical of pop song, confirming how for Battiato the song represents a noble means of expression, worthy of the lieder and madrigal tradition, which is never used to debase the expressive needs of the artist, but on the contrary it is bent to the needs of cultured music.
The lyrics are, as usual, full of mystical suggestions, ranging from the theme of pre-existence ("Nei giardini della preesistenza"), of the search for the divine ("Lode all'Inviolato"), of human pride ("Atlantide"), of the splendour and corruption as two faces of the same medal ("Delenda Carthago"). The languages used are numerous, Italian is flanked by Latin ("Delenda Carthago", which contains verses by Properzio) to Arabic ("Fogh in Nakhal", a passage from the Iraqi tradition and masterfully contaminated with hints of the European tradition) and Persian (the ending of "Haiku").
Difficult to do a track-by-track analysis on such an album, but a special mention certainly deserves "Atlantide", an epic and hypnotic hymn against human greed narrated in the form of myth, in which distorted guitar riffs meet a very rich arrangement of samples of strings and lyrical voices.
To conclude, Caffé de la Paix probably represents the compositional apex of Franco Battiato, and certainly the work that shows the various aspects of the composer from Catania with more completeness, balance and compactness.