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Area - Maledetti CD (album) cover

MALEDETTI

Area

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 207 ratings

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ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Posse that Lynched the Hangman - A Spaghetti Western

We should never lose sight of the context within which a work of art is created. In the noughties, those in the west are undoubtedly guilty of taking for granted most of the freedoms not enjoyed by artists who existed under less liberal regimes. To wit, some of the greatest creations of all time are forged from clandestine resources and exist IN SPITE of the prevailing controls designed to stifle them.

It's very easy to smirk knowingly at say, Poland's Exodus, Estonia's In Spe, Hungary's Panta Rhei and Slovakia's Collegium Musicum and twitter

- that's really just pedestrian rock and SO derivative -

without stopping to realise that ownership of ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition at one time in Budapest would have had you locked up. Although Soviet era eastern Europe can hardly be compared to a relatively urbane and democratic Mediterranean nation, the fact that art cannot exist in a vacuum still holds true.

I have many Italian friends, most of whom grew up in Italy during the late 60's early 70's and they would agree without hesitation that it suffers from an endemically corrupt society where the only crime acknowledged in the popular consciousness is 'getting caught'.

It should come as no surprise therefore to discover a vigorous reaction to this deficit of integrity from the nation's youth to reclaim that yawning space abandoned by institutionalized duplicity. Such is the volatility of Italian socio political life that all manner of polar opposites and extremes over the years have managed to enjoy their 15 minutes of allotted infamy from the hustings. It is from this forbidding soil that such rare blooms as Area have conspired to grow, mutate and nurture an agenda aimed at addressing the bullying administered to a shrinking and timid idealism by the forces of reaction.

Unfortunately however, like many other purveyors of an egalitarian manifesto, Area are found guilty on all charges of conspiring to send the disenfranchised masses into the class struggle accompanied only by a posturing conceptual art-wank soundtrack.

The unarmed cannot declare a cease-fire and do Area really think that complex, challenging and dissonant jazzrock is anything other than 'preaching to the converted' i.e the liberal intelligentsia who can actually appreciate this stuff? Joe Blow might just march to the Stones and Oasis, kill the king and rail at all his servants , but he would look on in baffled dismay at what he sees as the hollow rhetoric of elitist and pretentious poseurs.

Evaporazione - As if to say, 'this ain't no party, this ain't no CBGB's, this is not entertainment Ladies and Gentlemen, we have something to tell you and it's not very nice' . Similar in spirit to that of the intro used by Fripp on Exposure. Mercifully brief.

Diforisma urbano - Like submerging yourself in a warm and sumptuous analogue bubble bath. Industrial strength 'funky' with some glorious synth, bass and drum interplay and a memorable rejoinder theme which reappears at intervals throughout. Redolent of some of Miles Davis fusion work but free from the noodley meanderings of the latter. Many singers have designs on using their voice as if it were an improvising instrument, but none come as close to the startling effect Stratos achieves here. Makes even the redoubtable Sara Vaughan sound like a karaoke busker.

Gerontocrazia - More incredible singing/vocalizing by Stratos which we get to enjoy up close on an acapella intro which you will never forget once heard. His voice is surely one of the most astonishing I have ever encountered, and lends Area's volatile music an indelible and compensating texture. He soars, swoops, flutters, screams, shrieks, squawks and croons in equal measure and must be deserving of a freshly minted instrumental category all by himself by now surely? (Demetrio on Stratos-caster) Thereafter we gradually move into a section for the emerging band which encompasses Mediterranean, Arabic, North African and jazz dialects all poured liberally into an intoxicating and nicely simmering stew. Paolo Salvi's visceral and pulsing cello is particularly effective here and the synth palette of Patrizio Fariselli is unfailingly appropriate throughout. If you had to choose only one Area track with which to convert a doubter, then it might just very well be this critter.

Scum - Dislocated and elusive stabbing rhythm replete with some rapid-fire Keith Tippett era Crimson piano which just manages to straddle that precarious cusp between anarchic and incoherent successfully. Perhaps the most overtly jazz oriented piece on the record. Bristling and beguiling playing from all the band on this and although not particularly accessible it is well worth the perseverance. Rather incongruously the instrumental sections end with some synth chording very similar to Partick Moraz circa Refugee. Quite what the bilious manifesto of an idiot feminist militant has to do with all this, I am unsure (S.ociety for C.utting U.p M.en) by Valerie Solanas, whose only claim to posterity was a failed assassination attempt on the (ironically gay) conceptual art wanker without peer, Andy Warhol.

Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol maggiore - according to Mr Biagio Cepollaro's sleevenotes this brief and delightful adaptation of Bach for string orchestra is really about an oedipal killing and/or castration of your father. In the unlikely event that you invite Mr C round for tea, best to remove all the cutlery beforehand methinks...

Giro, giro, tondo - Another wonderful vocal extravaganza from Stratos introduces this and he sounds in places like a hybrid Mongolian overtone throat singer/Yodelling Swiss shepherd (imploring his flock to chase the sheepdog?) Curiously, the main riff employed here is almost identical to that of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's Shark's Teeth before we move into an exhilarating electric piano solo from Fariselli who really shines on every track on this album. Kudos are also due to Giulio Capiozzo on drums, whose playing is dazzlingly inventive and, to my untrained ears, fiendishly complex but unfailingly musical.

Caos (parte seconda) - here we meet a bewildering and nauseating array of 'in jokes' the preserve of the smirking anti-art brigade i.e Fluxus, Dada, Cage, Warhol and the rest where infantile 'dicking about' is considered a subversive and politically charged act. Self indulgent, patronising, long winded, pretentious and bordering on arrogant contempt for your audience more like. Everything that makes the term 'prog' a pejorative one is contained herein. A void masquerading as a statement that is deserving of goldfish memory as a storage medium. Viva neglect lads...

I cannot help but detect the calling card of the artistic Fluxus movement throughout so much of this record. All the tell-tale signs are there: the completely impenetrable, paranoid and delusional sleevenotes from an intellectual half-wit, intuiting democracy in the creative arts by positing the beauty of random events i.e anyone can do this, espousal of anti-art to be understood by the masses and not just critics, dilettantes and professionals. If you can get through the sleevenotes without revisiting your lunch, right on comrade ! but to give you a warning morsel from Mr Biagio Cepollaro's tangled pasta:

- the musical corporativism is demolished by means of the 46 Bach-like beats. Interaction is sought with the public through the solicitation of chaos; two linked synthesizer threads and two oscillating ones capture the corporeal thermodynamics of the public.... (Say What???!!!) -

We cannot blame Area for an unsolicited description of the view from inside Biagio's own backside and the whole execrable essay may have been translated from Italian via Klingon to English by a stoned and dyslexic glove puppet from the record company.

Based entirely on Biagio's ramblings, he would have us believe Area constitute a gang of Tifosi ejected from the stadium by the hated Carabinieri but cannot flee their captors (presumably because their train is running late)

This is a very impressive album by a band that have never compromised their artistic vision for a second but a word of caution is required, lest some unwitting souls think this is just another slice of Italian fusion. No Siree, Area are notoriously contrary and consequently very hard to categorise satisfactorily. I am sure they wouldn't have it any other way as there are instances on Maledetti where they cut off their (FAKE) noses to spite (OUR) faces with indecent glee. Democracy has never had any place in the arts and individuals as clearly intelligent as Area, should have the nous to understand that it is scarcity that confers value on anything.

Special Thanks to Gina for transcribing and translating some of the lyrics.

ExittheLemming | 4/5 |

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