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CRAC !

Area

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.21 | 250 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Crac!" is the third studio effort by that glorious avant-garde ensemble from Italy named Area.This work not only follows in the robust, challenging vein of its masterful predecessor "Caution Radiation Area", but it also replicates its intensity and modernistic inventiveness. On the other hand, it is fair to note down that the level of extravagant madness is not as pronounced as on the aforesaid album (or the next one "Maledetti", another Área masterpiece that we are not reviewing at this moment). One detail we can notice is that the ever bizarre Demetrio Stratos actually "bothers" to sing, that is, use his voice to elaborate defined melodic lines through a song's development. The first case is the opener 'L'Elefante Bianco', in which the lead vocal and piano enter at unison and display an exciting, playful motif full of Southern Mediterranean and Turkish nuances (some relatedness with the previous album's opener 'Cometa Rossa' can be traced as well). The second case is 'Gioia e Rivoluzione', which portrays a gentle, acoustic sonic architecture very much akin to the standardized hippy protest song: the subject of freedom regained after the demise of a dictatorship is worked on with a calculated folkish naivety. Curiously, the Tarzan-like vocal interventions are used subtly as to add colour (as apposed to disturbance) to the repeated final chorus. But hey, this is an Area album, and as such, it is mandatory that it contains a large amount of jazz-rock and psychedelically driven elements of experimentation in a prog context. 'La Mela di Odessa (1920)' and 'Megalopoli' are two intricate sonic journeys equally nurtured by energy and insolence, influenced by Mahavishnu Orchestra and aiming for a delirious refurbishment of the usual concepts of jazz-fusion. Actually, I have the impression that the rhythmic duo bears a more powerful feel than on the previous album (the bassist that debuted in the "Caution" album feels evidently at home here). Guitarists Tofani is more deeply involved than ever before in the exploration of synthesized enhancements for his lead guitar - the guitar phrases that he throws in on 'Megalopoli' are weird beyond words. Tofani uses his ARP synthesizer sensibly in order to preserve a creative tension in the sounds delivered over the complex rhythmic structures. Stratos' Hammond chops settle in freely, augmenting the band's global power. Being less aggressive than the two aforesaid pieces, 'Nervi Scorpeti' finds Fariselli initially assuming the leading role with an amazing electric piano solo, in this way preparing the stage for the moment in which Tofani will make his McLaguhlin-meets-Fripp flourishes, using effectively his guitar as a provider of tension combined with eeriness. Less aggressive, indeed, but equally brilliant. Let me reiterate how effective the rhythm duo is - a special mention has to go to Capiozzo, whose rolls and other sundry drumming tricks are almost humanly impossible, especially in those passages of tracks 2 and 3 where things get flashy and flaming. Some of these racks feel actually short: sometimes I surprise myself mentally cursing the moment in which the fade-out arrives to interrupt what could have been a magical expansion. 'Area 5' is the album's brief epilogue, an exercise on musique concrete based on craftily calculated alternations of vocal, guitar, piano, bass and drum - a Dadaistic thing, Area-style purely. General balance: "Crac!" is a typically Area-esque effort, not as radically evolving as the preceding album or the follow-up, but essential for the prog collector and convenient for the Area neophyte (either this one or the debut album "Arbeit Macht Frei").
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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