Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Area - 1996 - Chernobyl 7991

Chernobyl 7991

01. 15.000 umbrellas (1st part)
02. 15.000 umbrellas (2nd part)
03. Liquiescenza
04. Wedding day
05. Chernobyl 7991
06. Fall down
07. Il faut marteler
08. Efstratios
09. Mbira & Orizzonti
10. Colchide
11. Deriva (sogni sognati vendesi)
12. Sedimentazioni

- Patrizio Fariselli / pianoforte and tastiere
- Paolo dalla Porta / contrebass
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums
- Pietro Condorelli / chitarra in "Mbira & Orizzonti" and "Wedding day"
- Gigi Cifarelli / chitarra in "Chernobyl 7991"
- Stefano Bedetti / sax soprano in "Mbira & Orizzonti"
- John Clark / French corn in "15.000 umbrellas"
- Marino Paire / voice in "Fall down"

Having been a fan of this marvellous group for some years now, I hesitated somewhat diving into Chernobyl 7991 their latest release. As most of you guys know, front man Demetrio Stratos died an untimely death at the young age of 34 - leaving the group without the real fuel behind the pyrotechnics and earth-shattering middle eastern yodelings.

The loss of Stratos is comparable to when The Doors lost Jim Morrison. Big words, I know - but the fact of the matter is, that he had an artistic aura about him, as well as vocal chords that could shatter the polar icecaps in a jiffy - something that rubbed off to his musical surroundings, - and suddenly he was gone...

Chernobyl 7991 continues Area's unhealthy obsession with radioactive matters - and on here we get re- introduced to the horrible grey and dusty terrors of the Russian city, where the atomic trap once snapped and we as a whole nation of people, worldwide, felt the cold lifeless hand of death on our shoulder, if only for a brief moment.

What I then find bizarrely weird and perplexing, is the choice of music found within this album, that's supposed to illustrate this black chapter in man made energy. Even if it's coloured in the widely spread 90s sounding synths, you know the ones you'd find on an IQ album from around the same time, - you'll still almost instantly hear the Area flavour boosting through it all. Sure there's a sombre atmosphere occasionally peeping through, but most of all, what I get is those same old circus themed organ runs only now performed on electric piano and those plasticy synths - only much much slower! Not only does this sound oddly misplaced and inappropriate - it also makes me chuckle a bit now and then........ I am so ashamed of myself - no really. This album is about one of the worst man generated catastrophes in modern times, as well as serving as a memorial to one of my absolute favourite singers bar none, and here I am having a bit of a laugh...

Still, take a step back from this and the penny drops. Area were always like that. Whatever they've chosen to say or reveal with their music in the past, they did so with carefree attitudes and circus themed craziness all over the board. Even when they were at their most experimental and dark circa Caution Radiation Area, the stagnant horrifying sound sculptures and unorthodox Eastern phrasings still got followed by something completely "Areaesqe" and zany. That particular trade is still here, and whatever one thinks about its surroundings and how one preferably should behave around them: Please!!! Do the opposite of grow up!! Pull out the old Peter Pan outfit and jump out through your bedroom window!

The fierce spiralling tempo of this band has diminished slightly, I'll admit to that. But once you hear the drum rolls of Giulio Capiozzo and the whirlwind piano of Patrizio Fariselli - it quickly becomes apparent that these guys are the same bunch that once made albums such as Crac! and Maledetti. On Chernobyl 7991 they may have opted for some boring production qualities and veered into jazz lounge territory, if only briefly, but the finished product is one that they can be proud of. With musical guests throwing chitarra, saxophone and French horn into the mix, you are treated to an Area album that sounds unlike any other in their discography. It's a trip, and had it not been for that catastrophic production job and the, at times, rather flavourless lounge jazz, I may even have awarded this album with 4 stars.

Well worth the effort this one, you just have to get your head around the odd tempos and the unforgiving attack of the 90s. Area fans approach with care - fusion flavoured lollipop men of da-daah-da tendencies, jump right on in!

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