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Area - Arbeit Macht Frei CD (album) cover

ARBEIT MACHT FREI

Area

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.26 | 596 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 148

'Arbeit Macht Frei' is the debut studio album of Area and was released in 1973. The line up on the album is Demetrio Stratos (vocals, organ and steel drums), Giampaolo Tofani (guitar and synthesizer), Patrizio Fariselli (piano), Eddie Busnello (saxophone), Patrick Djivas (bass and double bass) and Giulio Capiozzo (drums and percussion).

This wasn't their original line up. In 1972 the pianist was Leandro Gaetano and the guitarist was Johnny Lambizzi instead of Patrizio Fariselli and Giampaolo Tofani. On the other hand, this was the only album with the participation of bassist Patrick Djivas, who left the band to be a member of Premiata Forneria Marconi and which was replaced by Ares Tavolazzi. And it was the only participation on the group of the saxophonist Eddie Busnello, that wouldn't be replaced.

'Arbeit Macht Frei' is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the progressive Italian rock from the 70's. Their music shows all their expressive potential like jazz, ethnic music and rock in its experimental research. The album is a manifesto of their nervous and cutting style. Their music is taken up sometimes to strange and 'oriental' forms. 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is called by the critics, 'radical music' because it tends to go to the roots of the political significance of the Pop movement. Shining in the uncommon progressive set-folk of Area is especially Stratos. Stratos was able to develop an extraordinary vocal technique, which included the use of diplofonie and an harmonic voice, as well as a vocal extension almost unattainable. It can be said that he was one of the best singers of all time, with a unique and original singing.

'Arbeit Macht Frei' has six tracks. The first track 'Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (Nero)' is a song with its lyrics about the black September of 1972 when the Palestinians committed terrorist attacks. The track begins with an Arab feminine voice reciting a poem. Musically, it's a very difficult song to describe and we must to hear it to understand it. It seems to be built around ethnic and traditional music, probably from Greece. Definitely, this song represents, without any doubt, one their finest musical moments. The second track is the title track 'Arbeit Macht Frei'. It's a song with strong political lyrics and which ironically its title was taken from the very well known Nazi motif on the entrance of the infamous death camp Auschwitz, in Poland. Musically it's a completely different musical proposal from their previous debut song. It's a song very close to avant-garde jazz, very innovative, and which begin to typify the band to a new and unconventional musical approach. It's another great and strong song of the album. The third track 'Consapevolezza', lyrically is a dramatically call to the revolution. Musically, is a fantastic jazz/rock song with plenty of some exotic musical atmospheres, that binds us to the song, and it has also a real hypnotic musical rhythm and the suggestive vocals invite us to freedom. The fourth track 'Le Labbra Del Tempo' is another great and complex song also influenced by jazz and with a very good and interesting rock section. It's a song that changes very often of its musical structure. This is a song with great musical passages and where the lyrics show an obscure reflection about the life and the time, and that we all should fight by our human rights and let ourselves free of superstitions and old beliefs. The fifth track '240 Chilometri Da Smirne' is the only fully instrumental track on the album. This is an avant-garde jazz piece of music with an incredible saxophone work. It's a song that, in many parts, seems to be a completely free jazz improvisation and it's incredibly a very good song. This is pure musical enjoy for any truly progressive fan, especially for jazz rock fans. The sixth and last track 'L'Abbattimento Dello Zeppelin' is for me the most avant-garde music on the album. It's a song with many experimental musical noises of different musical instruments, including the voice of Demetrio Stratos. This is a very weird and bizarre song with some musical changes all over the song. It's an insane song with vocal echoes, some musical explosions, strange instrumental sounds and which abruptly ends without warning. This is a strange, and at the same time, a coherent way to close this progressive masterpiece. It's one of the best improvised tracks, indeed.

Conclusion: The band members like to describe themselves as an International POPular group because they said that Area was a band that creates music for the people and for the masses and not for the elites. Sincerely and in general, I agree with them. However, with 'Arbeit Macht Frei' I don't know if that is completely true. In reality, 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is a truly and pure jazz rock/fusion album, and in my humble opinion, it's one of the best releases of that sub-genre ever made. 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is, without any doubt, one of the greatest progressive albums made in the 70's. However, I must confess that I always preferred their third studio album 'Crac !'. 'Crac !' was my third album in my progressive collection and was also my first contact with the band. Perhaps that is the reason why 'Crac !' remains for be my favourite musical work from them. Still, 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is a truly masterpiece of the band, putting Area at the same level of their compatriots of the 70's, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Le Orme.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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