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Area - Caution Radiation Area CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.93 | 200 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Wondrously tense and explosive right from the start, Caution Radiation Area is no exception to the rule that Area were one of the most interesting bands of the 70s RPI scene. Pulsating rhythms, Middle-East overtones and a musical assault comparable to being forced to a blender. You know - in a good way. Caution Radiation Area is really not the most polished, neither is it the most accessible of Area's albums. It is crammed with energy, aggression, suspense and a distinctive raw, gutsy power that is even more tangible here than on Arbeit Macht Frei or Crac!. On top of this, it might just as well be the most experimental of the three, using eerie, naked, avant soundscapes for build-ups, interludes, endings and even whole songs. These overt electronics are removed light years from the mellower uses in the majority of Italian bands of the time period, serving as a great complementing counterweight (the intensity and mood is never lost) to the otherwise busy arrangements. In comparison to the more earth-bound (ha!) debut, which presented the jazz style in beefed-up, rocky setting along with ethnic and avant influences, this is avant-jazz taken to a new and exciting conclusion. Less riffs, more speed, less room, more room (!). Fewer boundaries.

Cometa Rossa starts out with a pursuit through the desert, with the theme presented by a lonely keyboard run, heavy with Middle-East influences. Before long, the whole band is involved in the characteristically busy sound. Powerful melody, with both the guitar and keyboards playing together on top of a frantic and fantastic rhythm section. Lots of cymbal, lots of speed. Jazzy, but far from the norm. It's so much more alive, open to influences of all sorts and never happy being assorted into a specific sub-genre. A nervous guitar interlude and Demetrio Stratos wonderful voice acrobatics (exposed vibratos, howls and lamentations - classic RPI emotion) forms a gap in the intensity before the previous theme build up in an organ and synthesiser elevation that takes the song to its natural conclusion.

Distorted noise and electronic humming features as the scene for the sort of computer-generated voice that leads up to ZYG (Crescita Zero). An infectious drum beat and great, fast, mentally insane mini-solos from the guitar leads to a delicate atonal breakdown of keys and guitar. Bizarre, exciting and wonderful. Back to the aforementioned guitar tapestries, back to the atonal break. Exquisite structural disintegration. The rest of the track sets the guitar up front, with near endless soloing; twitchy, intense and furious and taking the guitar beyond tonal and safe territories. Notice Fariselli's chord work - going by a rhythm of his own, beyond the rest of the band, only occasionally falling in with the 'melody' together with his band-mates. A rollicking and booming piano theme enters and sends the song off in a near horror show direction, preceded by a section of a pretty funky rhythm style with horns. Enter the laser-beam electronics and an ever climbing finale of full band assault - and it's all over.

Brujo is more directly recognisable fusion at times. Naturally, with an Area twist. Uncompromising oddity in terms of effects and interludes - sparsely instrumented, with spindly bass guitar fret beating, chilling piano randomness and just slightly more focused organ noodlings. Really unpredictable and eerie. A relatively nimble and melodious Fariselli solo stands out - being fairly normal. More moodiness and effects - think a 50s sci-fi movie gone psycho - with Stratos delivering more theatrics. Very fragmented composition.

Next up is the album's longest track - the ten and a half minute long Mirage. The soundtrack of a horribly mutated fairytale of sorts, it features the scariest moments the band has ever produced. Stratos effect-laden ill-willing breathing and hissing sounds in a minimal environment of distant, towering clarinet and some other wood-wind. A perfect musical description of the solitude of insanity if there ever was one. With the spasmodic percussion part that comes in after a couple of minutes, it isn't too far from a Franco Battiato track on a bad acid trip. The percussion grows into a steady drum beat which at least serves to anchor all the freakiness to something concrete, with dense and uncontrolled jamming as the extension of the previous instrumentation. Whispers and chants of a haunted house take over a sudden silence and grow into a scream. Chaotic, rich and atonal jamming takes it place, with fragments of melody passing by up until the only instrumentally focused part of the track escorts singer Stratos and Fariselli in a short duet back to the ethereal voices and silence that so characterise the track.

Most disturbing of all is still the closing statement from the band - the four excruciating moments of screeching, piercing electronic wasteland called Lobotomia. You can find traces of melody initially, but they don't last for long. And yes - drilling sounds are a part of the soundscape. Quite fitting.

I always get a rush out of this album and all of its facets. And if you're a fan of fantastic avant-fusion freakadelica, you should get it as well. Ahem.

4 stars.


LinusW | 4/5 |


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