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23 June 2009

Area - 'Maledetti' (Cramps)

And now, my favorite Area record -- or did I say that about Caution Radiation Area? -- Maledetti is all things to me. It's their most surrealistic and fucked up record, both in the overall Dadaist structure and in the incredible, genre-best closing track 'Caos (parte seconda)' . It's also (I will argue) one of their most complete records, as there's a little bit of everything here. In a perfect world, their reputation would rest on Maledetti alone. You get snippets of a very jazz-oriented Area, perhaps the jazziest we've heard yet with a real McCoy/Garrison current in 'Gerontocrazia' and also an extended lineup that features Steve Lacy and Paul Lytton. The chord changes, complex time signatures, and blister-inducing rapid instrumental passages are here too. You get a second side that in addition to the insane 'Caos' jam (which sounds like Jac Berrocal after eating too much spinach, while watching Benny Hill episodes with the sound muted) opens with a "massacre" of the Brandenberg concerto. You get a track that is Valerie Solanos's 'scum' manifesto set to music, vocalised by the one and only Demetrio Stratos (I've noticed that the spelling of his surname changes from album to album, though there's actually a signature in the liner notes for this one). And you get the surrealist flag in vibrant colors, raised on the opening track 'Evaporazione', which sounds like the tape recorder accidentally left on and is a brilliant and insane way to begin an album. This isn't all "out" like the next entry in our Area gauntlet is, but just bizarre enough to achieve, I dunno, perfectione? Great artwork too; if you ever had any doubts about why Area were on the NWW list, start here. What's the criticism? That it's too short? But not really, cause it doesn't even leave you wanting more. It's often easy to be distracted by diverse sounds. I'm not necessarily impressed by an artist who merely demonstrates that they have a big record collection -- I mean, you can always start an alphabetic blog to do that! We all have shitloads of influences but if you can't take your precendents and make it into something that is yours, then what are you doing besides recycling other records? Area manage to find the perfect balance here - the jazzy parts may trigger a million associations in my mind, but ultimately it's still Area. We get a few measures of Terry Riley, a few measures of Cage, a few minutes of Bach - but it's chewed up and digested and magnified by Area's own brilliance. Soldier on, boys. Though the end is nigh.

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