Review by César Inca Mendoza Loyola @ Prog Archives:
Area’s fourth studio effort is yet another masterpiece in their recording catalogue, standing out as the most solid showcase for their musical ideology so far. “Maledetti” is a bit stronger than their second gem “Caution Radiation Area” and, in some ways, much bolder. After a less aggressive and less demanding “Crac!”, the band seemed now decided to lift off from where “Caution” stood and take their radical artistic attitude to its most mature expression – and so they did! The bizarre-beyond-words Stratos soliloquy that kicks off the album should prepare the listener for the deconstructive feast that’s about to take place: the whispers, fractured stammering, dubious articulations and final shout that fill the speech of ‘Evaporazione’ are an urgent invitation to leave the boundaries of modern rational thought behind and les ourselves be transported to more fundamental roots of our lives. A lovely invitation that is immediately segued into the funky-oriented jazzy splendour of ‘Diaforisma Urbano’, whose optimistic flavours properly convey the need to face a new era of real freedom without fear or regrets: it is in our hands to transform our contemporary life into something we are to command instead of something out of our hands and above our heads. ‘Gerontocrazia’ is one of the most captivating Area pieces ever (in fact, it is perhaps my all-time favourite Area track). It sort of encapsulates the musical ideology that Area had been thoroughly outlining and establishing in their studio recordings and live concerts for years: Stratos’ vocal lunacy (one of his best performances ever), the Eastern-like melodic lines, the bold use of dissonance, the energetic jazzy rhythm section… all these elements are stunningly epitomized in the sonic tour-de-force that is comprised in ‘Gerontocrazia’. Compared to the band’s previous three albums, it is a fact that Fariselli’s interventions on synth and grand and electric pianos are more featured in the mix: the ultra free-jazzy ‘Scum’ and the prototypical ‘Giro, Giro, Tondo’ are clear showcases for that factor. Sandwiched between the two there is a string quartet rendition of the main motif of Bach’s ‘Branderbuger Concerto No. 3’ – Fariselli wrote this wicked arrangements, which incorporates some originally added countermelodies and a final dissonant section. This massacre is a symbol of the band’s urge to eliminate the ghosts of the past and instill an absolute faith in the future into the listener’s heart. Meanwhile, all throughout the album, it has been noticeable that Tofani’s guitar adventures have been sounding less prominently, although they still work as a very important asset in Area’s sound. Anyway, eventually those adventures are shown in full frontal in the extremely deconstructed ‘Caos (Parte Seconda)’, a 9-minute musical event formed by a highly loose set of improvised, disturbing sonic fragments on guitar, synth, piano, percussion, soprano sax… and of course, Stratos’ vocal deliriums. At times psychopathologically ethereal, at times simply nightmarish, this concrete tour-de- force is designed to disturb those who want to be disturbed and annoy those who are not in touch with the band's artistic spirit. The occasional presence of a guest on sax may remind us somewhat of the band’s debut album, in which the sax was such an important instrument: also, the presence of guests on bass, drums and percussion allows the band to enrich their jazz leanings as a result of the intimate interaction with other performers alien to the band’s official line-up. Since this is Area’s last studio effort with guitarist Tofani as a member, I can only conclude that this is a brilliant testament of his inventive input for Italy’s 70s avant-garde scene. “Maledetti’ is a masterpiece!
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums, percussion
- Patrizio Fariselli / piano, electric piano, bass clarinett, synthesizer, percussion
- Ares Tavolazzi / electric & acoustic bass, trombone
- Paolo Tofani / guitar, synthesizer, flute, tcherepnin
- Demetrio Stratos / vocal, organ, cembalo, steel drum, percussion
- Eugenio Colombo / kazumba
- Hugh Bullen / bass
- Walter Calloni / drums
- Steve Lacy / soprano sax
- Anton Arze & Jose Arze / txalaparta
- Paul Lytton / percussion
- Paolo Salvi / cello
- Giorgio Garulli / contrabass
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