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Area - Arbeit Macht Frei CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.26 | 603 ratings

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4 stars Strap yourself in, the ride begins!

Area is one of the most popular and historic RPI bands of the 1970s Italian progressive rock scene. Their exciting blend of music has awarded them fans who don't normally buy Italian albums. Area's heavy and aggressive avant-jazz jacket is yet another example of how the classic RPI scene was more than the symphonic prog-rock of Banco and Orme. The band exemplified the well deserved reputation RPI had for wildness, experimental edge, and manic musical mischief. Far from being just another dry fusion band, Area wore their passion and politics on their sleeve for all to see and remain an integral band for fans of the Italian scene. All five of the band's 1970s releases were strong and vivacious titles, Area were never a band to release ho-hum material.

It's ironic that given the unique nature of Area's music I find them one of the single most difficult bands to write about. It's pretty hard to document the tracks and find the adjectives to relate how dynamic it is. So much of the album belongs to impressive instrumental freakouts, particularly enjoyable to me are the saxophone and clarinet, but really at every position, including the vocals of the incomparable Demetrio Stratos. Here Stratos sings a bit more normally than on later albums where the grunts and yodels are more prominent. This helps ground the album just enough to please a wider range of prog fans. Paulo Tofani from the RPI band Califfi has some blazing guitar here also. There are thrilling ethnic music influences and wild avant sections with sound effects subdued by flute lines at one point. All riding shotgun with a most rippin' rhythm section courtesy of drummer Giulio Capiozzo and bassist Patrick Djivas, who would soon jump ship for PFM. The substance of the album lies in its attitude and possessing the chops and sass to pull it all off. Area's debut just bounces off the walls, I can pick no favorite tracks here. This is a band that would inspire countless legions of RPI bands to follow, as well as many musicians in general. I see Area mentioned frequently when reading the influences of so many modern Italian bands.

Those who crave challenging and gonzo music will eventually find their way to Area, and all five of their classic albums are worth your time. I would start here because this is a great album and because it's always fun to follow a band in chronological order. While it is tragic that Stratos died so young, I really don't think it's bad that Area stopped when they did. They left an amazing cache of albums that an extended career into the minefield of the 80s could not have hoped to match. Sometimes brevity of band is not a bad thing---burn bright when the ideas and friendships are hot and call it a day. Area would go on for a bit without the full line-up but the fine '78 album is pretty much the unofficial conclusion of the vital catalog most fans praise. 4.5 stars.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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