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BAND/AUTHOR:

AREA

(ITALY)

TITLE:
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
RELEASE DATE:
1973
LABEL:
AUTRE LABEL
GENRE:
PROGRESSIVE ROCK / JAZZ
"Area's first try, under the double influence of progressive rock and jazz, an album as committed as it is engaging."
ADRIANSTORK - 09.09.2014 -
Enthusiastic about English progressive rock, Italy experienced a phenomenon of musical syncretism in the 1970s. Three bands that succeeded in exporting themselves beyond the transalpine borders distinguished themselves: the pioneer Le Orme, and the two virtuosos Premiata Forneria Marconi and Banco del Muttuo Soccorso. Around these formations, there was a nebula of bands  whose influence was not negligible, but whose success was more confidential. Area is one of them. Formed in 1972 by the Greek-born singer Demetrio Stratos and drummer Giulio Capiozzo, the band was later joined by the bassist Patrick Djivas (future member of Premiata Forneria Marconi). Arbeit Macht Frei'' ('Work makes free') borrows its title from the German inscription at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the band claims a left-wing political commitment (the first track of their album will be censored from its last part, maliciously recalling Black September).

This first attempt still occupies a delicate place between progressive rock and jazz fusion. If the longest track culminates at just under ten minutes, the average length of the album is quite short: 36 minutes. One of his greatest achievements was the powerful voice of his singer, which was put on a par with the other instruments. Demetrio Stratos' vocal prowess is certainly remarkable, but the listener's ears will have to make an almost matrimonial choice. In 'L'abbatimiento dello Zeppelin', an experimental version of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole lotta love' (which the band had to learn to play in order to keep its place in a club), Stratos' vocals are placed between Robert Wyatt and... Tarzan! 

These extreme contrasts are reflected in the musicality of the band, which could be described as unpredictable. He dictates his rules, which can sometimes seem improvised, experimenting beyond progressive rock and jazz. This brilliance is not always assumed, such as the eponymous track, which is first lost in a soporific demonstration of percussions reminiscent of the King Crimson of the second part of "Moonchild", before being saved by his bass and saxophone (the grip of this instrument hovers over the tracks, in particular thanks to his nervous play on "240 cilometri da Smire which recalls David Jackson). 

If the experimental nature of the band can be discouraging, Area has nevertheless chosen to open the album with the progressive "Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (nero)". Starting with a recitation in Arabic of a poem on peace, the sequel becomes more energetic by resting on Patrick Djivas' rumbling bass, aerial keyboards and his Balkan rhythm, which announces world music.

It is difficult to classify an album that shines with its exuberance, whether political or musical. If listening to this album is demanding, the band will have fulfilled its mission, which is to offer a sound mirror to a society lacking social cohesion and stability.

More informations on

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SIMILAR BANDS

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, ELP, KING CRIMSON, PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, SOFT MACHINE, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, LE ORME

TRACK LISTING

01. Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (nero)
02. Arbeit Macht Frei
03. Consapevolezza
04. Le Labbra Del Tempo
05. 204 Chilometri Da Smirne
06. L'abbattimiento Dello Zeppelin


LINEUP

Demetrio Stratos: Chant / Claviers / Batterie
Eddie Busnello: Saxophone, Clarinette
Giulio Capiozzo: Batterie
Jan Patrick Djivas: Basse
Paolo Tofani: Guitares / Claviers
Patrizio Fariselli: Claviers


TAGS:
70's, Cutting Edge, Chaotic, Discordant, Experimental, Fusion, Instrumental, Intimist, Jam, Jazzy, Heavy, Psychedelic, Theatrical, Tribal, Deep voice, Yelled sing
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