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Area - Maledetti CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 214 ratings

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4 stars After the live "Are(A)zione", in 1976 Area released their fourth studio work, "Maledetti (Maudits). The line up is the classic one featuring Giulio Capiozzo (drums), Patrizio Fariselli (keyboards, piano synthesizer), Demetrio Stratos (vocals, organ, piano, bells), Ares Tavolazzi (bass) and Paolo Tofani (electric guitar, synthesizer, tcherepnin). Anyway in those days Area were an "open band" and during the recording sessions they were helped by some guest musicians like Eugenio Colombo (kazumba), Hugh Bullen (bass), Walter Calloni (drums), Steve Lacy (sax), Paul Lytton (percussion), Anton and JosŤ Arze (txalaparta) and a string quartet conducted by Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli. The result is a rich and heterogeneous mix of jazz-rock, classical music, Mediterranean folk, avant-garde and sonic experiments inspired by John Cage.

This album is an ambitious conceptual project of "fanta-sociopolitica" where Area tried to blend their music with science fiction and politics... The plot was explained in the liner notes. It's settled in the future in a time when society is vertically split and divided in corporations. World conscience is a liquid plasma kept in a computer inside a bank but, because of a failure, the liquid begins to spread out leading gradually to the loss of human conscience. The band draw three possible developments: A) Power to the ancient people as keepers of a past memory refusing the troubles of the present; B) Power to the women as energy suppliers and bringers of new ideals in antithesis with their historic repression; C) Power to the children as guarantors of freedom since they can reinvent history with the strength of their creative imagination. It's up to the listener to choose what's better...

The short opener "Evaporazione" set the atmosphere. It features recitative vocals and concrete music, here Paolo Tofani "plays" an electric shaver while Demetrio Stratos' theatrically warn us... "We've lost the memory of the XVth Century!". Next comes the excellent instrumental "Diforisma urbano" featuring a nervous rhythm and a jazz-rock pace. Demetrio Stratos here "plays" his voice like an instrument adding beautiful and intense touches of colour.

"Gerontocrazia" is about point A). It begins with a sweet traditional lullaby from Asia Minor featuring soaring vocals in Greek. In the liner notes you can read that in Asia Minor old people used to put a loaf of hashish under the pillow of little children to make them sleep for a long time easier. So this lullaby symbolize the proceedings of narcotization that old people exert through education on children's imagination. It leads to a complex and dynamic second part where Area depict the tricky ways of power... "With the power of things I can control your life / And this is called freedom / The daily experience of terror leaves you no one but me / Violence wearing down in love pushes you towards me / If you look in the past, you will find that everything has already been settled / And this is called truth / Without history nor memory let me write your steps / Enjoy your life in peace / Do not think and dream happiness...". That's one of my favourite Area's pieces.

"Scum" is about point B). In fact, Scum is an acronym for "Society for Cutting Up Men". Music takes off in a free jazz direction with the piano of Patrizio Fariselli in the forefront, then there's a sudden stop and Demetrio Stratos begins a speech featuring words taken from the "SCUM Manifesto" by Valerie Solanas, an American radical feminist writer, best known for her attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968... "Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic- minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex...". Well, here these words sound like a ferocious and sarcastic criticism against feminism.

"Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol maggiore" is a fragment taken from Bach's Brandenburg Concert number 3 in G major and passed through a treatment of progressive effacement of the most important parts of the counterpoints. According to the liner notes, this piece was conceived to symbolize the demolition of music corporatism and as a criticism to classical music in general but luckily it does not completely erase the charm of Bach's music.

"Giro, giro, tondo" is about point C). Demetrio Stratos' vocal experiments introduce a dangerous and frenzy ring-a-ring-a-roses where children play with the world as if it was a toy... "I play, I play with your world / I can dominate you / I turn, I turn always in circle / I can control you / I look, I look down at the bottom / I can subjugate you / I laugh, I laugh at your time / I have to crush you...". A famous scene of a Charlie Chaplin's film comes to mind...

"Caos (parte seconda)" in some way deals with point C) too. It's a long piece of concrete music inspired by the work of John Cage, a kind of play where the musicians pick up at random some pieces of paper with the names of some emotive states or "silence" written on them, then they freely interpret what's written on the paper disregarding what the others are doing... The result is a complete chaos! Area were so brave to repeat this experiment in a controversial concert at Milan university in 1976. On the Edel reissue on CD of the album at the end of this track you can listen to an interview with the band made immediately after this event... Interesting, but concrete music is not everyone's cup of tea.

andrea | 4/5 |


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