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With their new quintet format (including the entry of bassist Ares Tavolazzi) Area managed to consolidate their radical avant-garde approach to jazz-rock and achieve a more powerful ensemble sound: the result was properly incarnated in their genius second album “Caution Radiation Area”, a manifesto of bold inventiveness and sheer energy. Their explosive mixture of Weather Report/Mahavishnu Orchestra-inspired fusion, psychedelia, free jazz, North Africa/Middle East folk and concrete chamber comes to a more cohesive and challenging fruition than in their already excellent debut album. The opener ‘Cometa Rossa’ serves as the beginner’s perfect introduction to both the band’s artistic ideology and legendary Demetrio Stratos’ unique vocal style: basically, it is a rocky-edged jazz fusion number that includes a deliciously extravagant sung interlude, during which, the instrumentation comes down to a more subtle ground. It is not only the effective melodic lines and the amazing interplay between all five musicians that will leave the aware listener stunned; just pay attention to Capiozzo and Tavolazzi’s masterful functioning as a rhythm section alone, as a clear example of the band’s combined technical talent and energetic fire – their input should leave the listener speechless while listening to the entire album (or almost). The next two tracks explore the jazz-psychedelia-folk stuff even further: since the vocal parts are decreased, the room for instrumental pyrotechnics gets properly expanded. Tofani is an authentic guitar visionary: to some degree influenced by Fripp, he manages to go to bizarre places of his own with his peculiarly atonal guitar soloing, which in many passages is processed through synthesizer-based effects. Meanwhile, Fariselli provides a solid foundation on both electric and grand pianos in order to build a bridge between Tofani and the rhythm duo; his melodic input is mostly provided on his synth solos. Stratos is not only the Tarzan-meets-mental hospital patient singer; he also provides some effective organ harmonies and countermelodies, as well as some percussive extras. The 10+ minute ‘MIRage? Mirage’ is the longest track in the album, leaving enough room for the succession of diverse motifs and extended jams, taking the band’s peculiar penchant for surprise. Tavolazzi’s performance on double bass - delivered with exquisite panache - provides the track a sense of focus among all the sonic insanity that his partners indulge into with unhidden gall and total enthusiasm. Somewhere in the drastically minimalistic interlude, a few chords on harpsichord (courtesy of Stratos) appear floating by, adding some bizarrely delicate colours to the moment's tapestry: even delicacy can be disturbing. ‘Lobotomia’ is the closing number, an exercise on electronic experimentalism designed to ultimately lobotomize the captive listener (or even displease the unsatisfied one a bit more for a bit longer) so that they can focus on their own organic reaction: it is not a piece to be enjoyed or hated, it is a piece that seeks to provoke some fireworks in the listener’s flesh, now that their reason has succumbed to the powers of post-modernist ideology. This closure is actually the finish line of a musical race that Area had started with an idea in mind: let’s drop off everything we knew about beauty and search for something else, something essentially inscrutable in music. Inscrutable as it is for sure, it is also clear to me, according to my particular experience, that this album is a genuine prog masterpiece – from their own avant-garde island, Area forged a supreme work in 70s Italian prog. (PROGARCHIVES)