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Area - Caution Radiation Area CD (album) cover

CAUTION RADIATION AREA

Area

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.95 | 143 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars The title of this album is a tragic joke of the destiny as Demetrio Stratos died of aplastic anemia, that's a severe ill that can be caused by the exposure to radiations. In this second album, specially on the B side the band expands its horizons and is more experimental. Tavolazzi replaces Djivas who joins the PFM and the effect is more contrabass than bass guitar. Also the sax is gone but the free-jazz/avant is retained by giving the keyboard and the guitar some of the duties which on the first album were of the sax.

The first track "Cometa Rossa" (Red Comet) starts with a middle-eastern melody, then it stops and a guitar harping supports Demetrio Stratos. His incredible voice shows his Egyptian origins. This part of the song is quite similar to what Demis Roussos sings on the original soundtrack of Blade Runner. The language is Greek (Demetrio was born in Egypt by Greek parents). After this impressive and atmospheric vocal performance the initial jazz reprises until the end of the song. The lyrics say more or less "Red Comet shut the mouths of poets and prophets and let me find my freedom on my own".

"ZYG Crescita Zero" is opened by "industrial noises over which Demetrio says "The esthetic of work is the show of human merchandise". Crescita Zero means "Zero Growth" and those are likely the letters Z and G of the song's title. I don't know what the Y stays for. The song proceeds with drums and keyboard noises until the bass makes it jazzy again. this part is similar to "L.A. Nights" on ELP's Works 2, but can remind also 21st Century Schizoid Man. Only 2 minutes are passed and they don't remind to anything else than Area. A great guitar leads the track while bass and drums make a lot of jazz. A stop and the piano opens a new, very progressive, section. There's still a lot of jazz. I don't know if ELP have listened to this album in 1974 before releasing Works in 1976, but this is a case of a band sounding like ELP before ELP did.

"Brujo" opens chaotic with the whole ensemble playing a lot of notes, then it stops and we fall in a hypnagogic state with electric piano. percussions, double bass and guitar. The enchantment is broken by unexpected drum accents. Read the definition of "Avant" on PA and you'll have an idea of how it sounds. The following part, around minute 3:00 is free-jazz with the electric piano leading the ensemble. At minute 6 the music stops and Stratos is alone with keyboard noises in making vocal experiments. Some (Italian) words that can be catched are "Hoxygene, Hexorcism") then some sentences reminding to the Human Merchandise of the previous track.

"Mirage!" is a piece of contemporary classic. I think it has the mood of Luigi Nono's compositions, plus the vocal experiments of Stratos. The drum solo that overrides the music after 3 minutes takes the distance from the classic environment and lets the bass making jazz again. So we have keyboard and piano making "noises" while drums and bass play jazz. The two things mixed are amazing. At minute 5:45 the music stops again and Demetrio whispers and says "Undercover" with a weird voice. Vocalisms like monkeys in a jungle, an explosion and we are back again into avant-jazz that becomes a bit easier in the last minute.

"Lobotomia" (Lobotomy) is the most experimental track. It closes the album with noises and distorted reminds to some very popular tunes. Christmas carols, Advertising, TV news...the nature of this track can be catched only by Italians of my age, unfortunately. It's a sort of joke, a distortion of familiar sounds, like advising the listener that what you think is familiar is not what it seems. It may more likely represent a detachment from reality, the condition of a person lobotomized by the TV for whom the sounds slightly loose their meanings and become unrecognizable.

Very close to be a masterpiece. 4 stars rounded down.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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