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Area - Arbeit Macht Frei CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.28 | 649 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars With more energy than Mahavishnu Orchestra and more edge than most of the RPI scene, Area's "Arbeit Macht Frei" is a must-listen - one that puts less accomplished groups back into perspective.

Note that this album is not exclusively for fusion-heads - this reviewer certainly isn't one of them - as it rarely slips into jazz variation downtime, preferring to steadily apply pressure to the listener's ears. When jazz is the focus, this reviewer is reminded of bands such as Soft Machine or Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi and features similar instrumentation; however, instead of extending into the jazz note horizon, "Arbeit Macht Frei" features several moments where strong rock grooves emerge from the funk - the beauty of it all is that this always occurs just before the sax versus electric piano motif would become taxing on the patience.

Let's not skip over Mr. Stratos' voice - it'd be a reviewer's crime to do so, thereby skipping a perfect chance to use the word "bleating" with a positive connotation! For the man is a vocal contortionist with style and with fierce power of delivery - think Banco's Di Giacomo with less of a theatrical edge but more passion, coupled with a little fringe Patton activity (it'd be interesting to know whether Mike Patton is indeed a fan of Area.)

A few notes about the individual tracks without lapsing into analysis; "Settiembre" is partially built around a dancing, ethnic melody line, perhaps inspired by the traditional music of greece; the title track starts experimentally but locks into a jazz-rock groove without compare; "Consapevolazza" is smooth and pensive and features a sax part that to this reviewer's mind mimics Mr. Stratos' singular vocal style; "Le Labbra del Tempo" changes things up with an intro that has a similar furious "everyone play the theme in unison!" feel as KC's legendary "21st Century Schizoid Man"; "240 Chilometri da Smirne" is your alloted semi-improv jazz expedition to put you in the mood for "L'Abbattimento delio Zeppelin", which is a dark and stormy fusion skree featuring the versatile voice of Mr. Stratos in the role of instrumentation - if there are lyrics to be beheld during this song, they are whispered, ranted and piped out, falsetto. It's an urgent, desperate and avant-garde way to end an album but this is no mistake, as from here Area just get more and more peculiar.

If you like what I've described then I urge you to listen to "Arbeit Macht Frei" for yourself as it shouldn't disappoint - the musicians involved have taste and class and are performing world-worthy compositions with glee and at times, a terrible ferocity. Recommended.

laplace | 5/5 |


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