Area are a band within one of the most challenging and innovative rock genres of all time being the 70’s Italian Progressive Rock scene, including this 1975 effort, one of the more significant bands of the time, with a taste for avant garde fusion madness that is rather compelling.
Written by: Dangerzone
LABEL: Cramp Records
SERIAL: CRSLP 5103
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Italy
LINEUP: Demetrio Stratos – vocals * Paolo Tofani – guitar * Ares Tavolazzi – bass * Giulio Capiozzo – drums * Patrizio Farisello – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 L’elefante Bianco * 02 La mela di Odessa (1920) * 03 Megalopoli * 04 Nervi Scoperti * 05 Gioia e Rivoluzione * 06 Implosion * 07 Area 5
WEBLINKS: Site Link
One of the most challenging and innovative rock genres of all time has to be 70’s Italian Progressive Rock scene. Deciphering this eclectic era in depth and the host of bands who originated during this time has made for intriguing listening over the years. With that in mind it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who to concentrate on, especially with so many great albums created.
One that sticks out is this 1975 effort from Area, one of the more significant bands of the time, with a taste for avant garde fusion madness that is rather compelling. The band debuted in 1973 with ‘Arbeit macht frei’ and with Greek vocalist Stratos’ impressive range it gained the band a foothold in the burgeoning prog rock scene. The off kilter jazz madness continued over into 1974’s ‘Caution Radiation Area’ and with several personnel changes the band found a steady lineup.
The same members feature on ‘Crac!’ which increased their popularity in Italy. Supposedly they were advocates of socialism and communism, which hardly seems surprising given the political turmoil of Italy in the 70’s. This ideology probably went down a treat with Roma supporters and left wing fanatics, but critically resulted in some engaging fusion.
You could spend all day trying to compare Area to other bands of the time, but realistically it’s pointless. The experimentation is amazing to hear, with so many varied time changes and musical shadings present in each track that it takes sustained listening to behold all of them.
It’s all present in opener ‘L ‘elefante bianco’ which begins with keyboard dominated passages, with crazed guitar segments to augment it. When Stratos steps in he adds some vocal instrumental effects that have to be heard, a reflection of why he was held in such high regard.
The key track for me is ‘La Mela di Odessa’, a song steeped in communist theory, regarding a hero who hijacked a ship apparently, leading it into communist waters. So it goes. The opening portion of the track is another whirlwind of fusion genius, leading into some funk, with sax and other strange implementation of vocal effects and random sounds. It’s almost impossible to explain without listening to it.
‘Megalopoli’ is rife with frenetic keyboards and the bass work conjures up images of an early 70’s Dirty Harry film. It has that desperate atmosphere, another masterpiece. ‘Nervi Scoperti’ is pure jazz, with the piano work being taken to extremes, before being usurped by a similarly played guitar solo, with some blazing fret work.
Off the beaten path is ‘Gioia e Rivoluzione’ and its acoustic guitars, which lead into near Pure Prairie League or Poco territory. It sounds inconceivable, but I assume that was Area’s intent in the first place.
‘Implosion’ is a less complicated fusion rave up, hitting all the right notes before another experimental piece, this time ‘Area 5’. This is simply a collection of tuneless instrumental notes being delivered as strangely as possible, a fitting ending to an essential listening experience.
Area continued until 1979 when Stratos sadly died in New York City of a heart attack due to medical complications. Due to his vocal abilities he has since become a legendary figure and despite the band continuing as Area 2 they were never quite the same according to most observers.
Reading about Stratos and his life is fascinating, his list of accomplishments quite unbelievable. Area has gone on to reunite on numerous occasions, still performing gigs with essentially the same lineup as ‘Crac!’ minus Stratos.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
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