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Area - Arbeit Macht Frei CD (album) cover

ARBEIT MACHT FREI

Area

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.30 | 380 ratings

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stranded_starfish
4 stars This album is not what you'd expect. I think that's the first thing to note about it. RPI is typically noteworthy for its strong classical influences, a trait more easily understood within the wider context of the broader nostalgia present in the Italian mindset, the feeling that as things are, so must they be left to be. The strongly left-wing Area, by contrast, have constructed a very jazz-fuelled album, something, perhaps, reminiscent of an Italian cross between Gentle Giant and Gong. The title, of course, comes from its ironic use atop the gates of Dachau, before it's more iconic display as the 'motto' of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It's use here provides a core to the bands hatred of right wing politics.

Musically, the proceedings are dominated by jazzy saxophones, infinitely funky bass noodlings, and the intriguing voice of Demetrio Stratos. Noted for his research into vocal variation and the limits (or lack thereof) of the human voice, Stratos is able to produce a spectrum of unusual sounds from his mouth, creating an interesting foil for the jazzy saxophones. The music is highly varied, full of a kind of symbolic anarchy in a subgenre dominated by neoclassical traditionalism and order.

This isn't the best RPI album you'll ever hear; as I said, for one thing, it doesn't really fit the RPI mould properly - but it is interesting, and holds up well to repeated listens. Indeed, it virtually demands at least a handful of spins on the deck to get to grips with the complexity and sense of liberation it has to offer. It's not unique, but it is plenty unusual enough to justify its healthy position in the RPI rankings, offering as it does an individual flavour.

3.5/5, but, I'll be generous and round up rather than down.

stranded_starfish | 4/5 |

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