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Area - Crac ! CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.25 | 319 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars A creative high for music. And honestly, that's where I'd like to stop. But.

Imagine the power of an explosion, the brewing frustration and uncertainty of a generation, the freedom and joy of happiness, facing difficulties, overcoming the same difficulties - all presented and packaged in an uncensored form of expression that grabs you, stuns you, turns you inside out and leaves you alone on the ground, bleeding.and still asking for more! Behind these words there is an elusive truth in hiding, because even if much of Crac! is harsh, uncompromising, virtuosic and provocative music to the bone, it's not those qualities that makes me so very fond and attached to the album, but rather the pulsating emotional whirlwind and escapism you're invited to for the all too short thirty-eight minutes the ride lasts.

And still there really aren't any proper attempts at reaching that goal, with aggression, confrontation and downright collision feeling like a lot more descriptive words of the music, making it notably harder to reflect on the emotional ingredients of the music, and even harder finding the peace of mind required for that when listening to Area. Instead, you have to accept that you can do nothing else than open up your mind, and just let the music surge and stream through you. Believe me, you'll find it cleansing, rejuvenating, absorbing and ultimately relaxing. Think of Crac! as a musical adrenalin rush, and you might start to get the idea.

Compared to Arbeit Macht Frei it's an album that feels more distinctly like Area, and with Area being Area, that tells us that it's an album that is even more nothing at all, or rather a lot of things at the same time. Revolving around a core of fiery and restless jazz-tinged fusion with avant overtones, it snatches ideas and trademarks from many directions, broadening the scope of the music, both digging itself deeper down into indefinable experimentations with instrumentation, effects and vocals as well as opening up for smoother, more mainstream structures. Gioia E Rivoluzione is surprisingly cheerful, down-to-earth and enjoyable with its rollicking guitar and playful piano and keys sound. Placing a fairly simple mid-tempo rocker in the midst of the dominating chaos makes it stand out, but not in a bad way. Instead it enhances the pros of its own inherent qualities, and forms an island of refuge where you can lean back and drop the guard for a short while.

Otherwise the bulk of the music shows quite a lot of similarities with Canterbury Scene's better moments; restlessly wandering keys, psyched-out moments and the same approach towards jazz-rock, with a floating ill-defined structure that is dynamic in a smooth, transitional way while remaining exciting due to stunning individual performances and a natural curvature and change in the underlying rhythm. Yes, that, but on speed. It's tighter, faster, grittier and a whole lot more room for passion and extrovert punching power. Volatile, but infectiously so. On the other hand, it may be more leaning towards the lawless territories that make up avant prog. Sparse atonal instrumentation, impulsive and catatonic in a weird but functional combination or just spastically mischievous, not only marked by typical manifestations of avant tendencies, but also skilfully masked, or rather integrated, into more 'familiar' structures and motifs; squealing, creaking or whispering string harassment, totally fearless and pleasantly nonsensical piano runs (given a lot of space on some of the tracks - lovely!) or built-in fragments of other melodies, so terribly out of place you just have to melt. The spirited, warm and stompy jazz-rock rhythms that should be familiar if you've ever heard Arbeit Mach Frei are still around of course, and the fact that they feel concise says a lot about the rest of the album, and I guess they are one of the few features that honestly anchors Area to their Jazz-Rock/Fusion home. A personal favourite in the candy store of sounds found here are the 'conversations' between bass guitar, drums and keys that are strewn out on Crac!. Incredibly fast, complex phrases taking turns and joining each other in a somewhat chaotic, but very enjoyable manner.

Another similarity with the excellent debut is that the first song is also the best one. L'Elefante Bianco's dramatic, condensed and highly captivating piano motif accompanied by Demetrio Stratos impeccable vocal qualities (the man is a phenomenon - emotion, tone, using his voice as just another instrument, experimentation - flawless performance regardless of what the challenge may be) sucks you in and surprises you with its honest, dominating and charged appeal. A veritable ear-opener, and the busy Middle-East melody that follows is equally good. It moves with blinding speed, delicacy and ferocity and the images of a surreal chaotic bazaar it evokes somehow describe the album perfectly: teeming with life, full of an at first overwhelming amount of flavours that appeal to, excite and question your previous experiences.and above all the pleasant feeling that you could lose yourself forever in its exotic magic.

An absolute masterpiece and a personal favourite on all levels. Concluding word: unstoppable.

5 stars.


LinusW | 5/5 |


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