AREA — Maledetti (maudits)

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AREA - Maledetti (maudits) cover
3.83 | 13 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Jazz Related Rock


A1 Evaporazione 1:45
A2 Diforisma Urbano 6:18
A3 Gerontocrazia 7:30
A4 Scum 6:30
B1 Il Massacro Di Brandeburgo Numero Tre In Sol Maggiore 2:20
B2 Giro, Giro, Tondo 5:55
B3 Caos (Parte Seconda) 9:00


- Hugh Bullen / Bass Guitar
- Walter Calloni / Drums
- Paul Lytton / Percussion
- Demetrio Stratos / Piano,Campane, Electronics [Voice Filter]
- Patrizio Fariselli / Piano
- Steve Lacy / Saxophone [Soprano]
- Paolo Salvi / Cello [Violoncello]
- Giorgio Garulli / Double Bass
- Armando Burattin / Viola
- Ares Tavolazzi / Double Bass
- Paolo Tofani / Electronics, Drums
- Eugenio Colombo / Kazumba
- Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli / Violin
- Anton Arze / Txalaparta
- Josè Arze / Txalaparta

About this release

Cramps Records ‎– CRSLP 5105 (Italy)

Recorded at Fono-Roma Sound Recording spa / Milano

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The Posse that Lynched the Hangman - A Spaghetti Western

We should never lose sight of the context within which a work of art is created. In the noughties, those in the west are undoubtedly guilty of taking for granted most of the freedoms not enjoyed by artists who existed under less liberal regimes. To wit, some of the greatest creations of all time are forged from clandestine resources and exist IN SPITE of the prevailing controls designed to stifle them.

It's very easy to smirk knowingly at say, Poland's Exodus, Estonia's In Spe, Hungary's Panta Rhei and Slovakia's Collegium Musicum and twitter

- that's really just pedestrian rock and SO derivative -

without stopping to realise that ownership of ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition at one time in Budapest would have had you locked up. Although Soviet era eastern Europe can hardly be compared to a relatively urbane and democratic Mediterranean nation, the fact that art cannot exist in a vacuum still holds true.

I have many Italian friends, most of whom grew up in Italy during the late 60's early 70's and they would agree without hesitation that it suffers from an endemically corrupt society where the only crime acknowledged in the popular consciousness is 'getting caught'.

It should come as no surprise therefore to discover a vigorous reaction to this deficit of integrity from the nation's youth to reclaim that yawning space abandoned by institutionalized duplicity. Such is the volatility of Italian socio political life that all manner of polar opposites and extremes over the years have managed to enjoy their 15 minutes of allotted infamy from the hustings. It is from this forbidding soil that such rare blooms as Area have conspired to grow, mutate and nurture an agenda aimed at addressing the bullying administered to a shrinking and timid idealism by the forces of reaction.

Unfortunately however, like many other purveyors of an egalitarian manifesto, Area are found guilty on all charges of conspiring to send the disenfranchised masses into the class struggle accompanied only by a posturing conceptual art-wank soundtrack.

The unarmed cannot declare a cease-fire and do Area really think that complex, challenging and dissonant jazzrock is anything other than 'preaching to the converted' i.e the liberal intelligentsia who can actually appreciate this stuff ? Joe Blow might just march to the Stones and Oasis, kill the king and rail at all his servants , but he would look on in baffled dismay at what he sees as the hollow rhetoric of elitist and pretentious poseurs.

Evaporazione - As if to say, 'this ain't no party, this ain't no CBGB's, this is not entertainment Ladies and Gentlemen, we have something to tell you and it's not very nice' . Similar in spirit to that of the intro used by Fripp on Exposure. Mercifully brief.

Diforisma urbano - Like submerging yourself in a warm and sumptuous analogue bubble bath. Industrial strength 'funky' with some glorious synth, bass and drum interplay and a memorable rejoinder theme which reappears at intervals throughout. Redolent of some of Miles Davis fusion work but free from the noodley meanderings of the latter. Many singers have designs on using their voice as if it were an improvising instrument, but none come as close to the startling effect Stratos achieves here. Makes even the redoubtable Sara Vaughan sound like a karaoke busker.

Gerontocrazia - More incredible singing/vocalizing by Stratos which we get to enjoy up close on an acapella intro which you will never forget once heard. His voice is surely one of the most astonishing I have ever encountered, and lends Area's volatile music an indelible and compensating texture. He soars, swoops, flutters, screams, shrieks, squawks and croons in equal measure and must be deserving of a freshly minted instrumental category all by himself by now surely ? (Demetrio on Stratos-caster) Thereafter we gradually move into a section for the emerging band which encompasses Mediterranean, Arabic, North African and jazz dialects all poured liberally into an intoxicating and nicely simmering stew. Paolo Salvi's visceral and pulsing cello is particularly effective here and the synth palette of Patrizio Fariselli is unfailingly appropriate throughout. If you had to choose only one Area track with which to convert a doubter, then it might just very well be this critter.

Scum - Dislocated and elusive stabbing rhythm replete with some rapidfire Keith Tippett era Crimson piano which just manages to straddle that precarious cusp between anarchic and incoherent successfully. Perhaps the most overtly jazz oriented piece on the record. Bristling and beguiling playing from all the band on this and although not particularly accessible it is well worth the perseverance. Rather incongruously the instrumental sections end with some synth chording very similar to Partick Moraz circa Refugee. Quite what the bilious manifesto of an idiot feminist militant has to do with all this, I am unsure (S.ociety for C.utting U.p M.en) by Valerie Solanas, whose only claim to posterity was a failed assassination attempt on the (ironically gay) conceptual art wanker without peer, Andy Warhol.

Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol maggiore - according to Mr Biagio Cepollaro's sleevenotes this brief and delightful adaptation of Bach for string orchestra is really about an oedipal killing and/or castration of your father. In the unlikely event that you invite Mr C round for tea, best to remove all the cutlery beforehand methinks...

Giro, giro, tondo - Another wonderful vocal extravaganza from Stratos introduces this and he sounds in places like a hybrid Mongolian overtone throat singer/Yodelling Swiss shepherd (imploring his flock to chase the sheepdog ?) Curiously, the main riff employed here is almost identical to that of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's Shark's Teeth before we move into an exhilarating electric piano solo from Fariselli who really shines on every track on this album. Kudos are also due to Giulio Capiozzo on drums, whose playing is dazzlingly inventive and, to my untrained ears, fiendishly complex but unfailingly musical.

Caos (parte seconda) - here we meet a bewildering and nauseating array of 'in jokes' the preserve of the smirking anti-art brigade i.e Fluxus, Dada, Cage, Warhol and the rest where infantile 'dicking about' is considered a subversive and politically charged act. Self indulgent, patronising, long winded, pretentious and bordering on arrogant contempt for your audience more like. Everything that makes the term 'prog' a pejorative one is contained herein. A void masquerading as a statement that will live long in the memory of only goldfish. Viva neglect lads...

I cannot help but detect the calling card of the artistic Fluxus movement throughout so much of this record. All the tell-tale signs are there: the completely impenetrable, paranoid and delusional sleevenotes from an intellectual half-wit, intuiting democracy in the creative arts by positing the beauty of random events i.e anyone can do this, espousal of anti-art to be understood by the masses and not just critics, dilettantes and professionals. If you can get through the sleevenotes without revisiting your lunch, right on comrade ! but to give you a warning morsel from Mr Biagio Cepollaro's tangled pasta:

- the musical corporativism is demolished by means of the 46 Bach-like beats. Interaction is sought with the public through the solicitation of chaos; two linked synthesizer threads and two oscillating ones capture the corporeal thermodynamics of the public.... (Say What ???!!!) -

We cannot blame Area for an unsolicited description of the view from inside Biagio's own backside and the whole execrable essay may have been translated from Italian via Klingon to English by a stoned and dyslexic glove puppet from the record company.

Based entirely on Biagio's ramblings, he would have us believe Area constitute a gang of Tifosi ejected from the stadium by the hated Carabinieri but cannot flee their captors (presumably because their train is running late)

This is a very impressive album by a band that have never compromised their artistic vision for a second but a word of caution is required, lest some unwitting souls think this is just another slice of Italian fusion. No Siree, Area are notoriously contrary and consequently very hard to categorise satisfactorily. I am sure they wouldn't have it any other way as there are instances on Maledetti where they cut off their (FAKE) noses to spite (OUR) faces with indecent glee. Democracy has never had any place in the arts and individuals as clearly intelligent as Area, should have the nous to understand that it is scarcity that confers value on anything.

Special Thanks to Gina for transcribing and translating some of the lyrics.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
Although many artists in the 70s were recording albums in English, most of the Italian groups including AREA continued to use their native language. One of the plights of this decision is for non-Italian speakers to be utterly clueless what the album is about. Not speaking much of the lingo I formed my opinion solely on the music. What a surprise to learn that this is actually a concept album about an imaginary bank in which history is stored and loses data from the 15th century causing people to forget how to govern the world. The outcome of which leads to society learning how to divide power amongst the different demographics. Hmmm. More socialist proganda? Maybe....

Did that change my perception of this album? Well, YES! and it made me appreciate that AREA was an even more complex band that I thought and made me realize how much we can miss when taking an album out of the context of its place and time. What once seemed like random and chaotic tracks now seem like they were placed there for a reason.

About this album! AREA continue their strange mish-mash of rock, jazz, Balkan and Mediterranean music that separated them from other prog acts of the day. MALEDETTI incorporated all of the elements that made up their sound and went the experimental route once again. After a spoken word opener (in Italian) that explains the evaporation of information we get a rather straight forward jazz-fusion track “Diforisma Urbano,” followed by “Gerontocrazia” which incorporates a txalaparta (a Basque xylophone type instrument) to the mix. This is a track that Mr Stratos really steps up to the plate and delivers a stunning vocal performance. “Scum” is a track that is clearly inspired by the jazz classics but takes it into a frenetic and ecstatic state of virtuosity. “Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol maggiore” is the most unexpected track in all of AREA's disocraphy. It is an excerpt of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto. WTF?!! After that unexpected tidbit we continue with “Giro, Giro, Tondo.” This is yet another ecstatic jazz-fusion fest which everyone shines especially keyboardist Patrizio Fariselli. The last track “Caos (parte seconda)” is probably the track that leaves most casual listeners alienated and running for the hills. This is one of the strangest tracks on the album. It is indeed a piece of musical insanity but there is a bass piano piece that is the underpinning of the whole thing (kinda reminds me of The Pink Panther theme). Very wild and has something to do about the whole structured system falling apart.

In conclusion, this album started out as a 4 star album but after many listens and then another few after the discovery that it is a concept album I have to say this has weaseled itself into my heart as the 4th masterpiece in a row. The details are dizzifying. Just read the amount of guest musicians and instruments involved in the whole thing. AREA continue to make me believe they were one of the best musical entities of the ages. I wish I knew Italian better so I could understand their lyrics. This album requires multiple listens and dedication to appreciate it. Sorry, no easy listening with this one.
What is up with Area? They follow a fairly accessible album with a less accessible, then go back to an accessible album, then follow it with a less accessible album? Arbeit Macht Frei was followed by the more experimental Caution: Radiation Area. Then comes Crac!, a much more accessible album, and now Maledetti, where they go all over the place. The core of Area is augmented with many guest musicians, including two Basque txalaparta players, Jose and Jesus Arze (Jesus was miscredited as Anton Arze, apparently Jose's full name was Jose Anton Arze, or also JosAnton Artze) of Arza Arnaiak (who also recorded for Cramps), a cello quartet, plus jazz musicians like Steve Lacy, and too many others. "Evaporazione" is a strange piece with some weird droning and Demetrio Stratos giving some spoken dialog, until at the end he yells, in English, "Ladies and gentlemen". "Diforismo Urbano" is more into familiar Area territory, just a great fusion piece with lots of electric piano, synths, and jazzy drumming. "Gerantocrazio" starts off with txalaparta from the Arze brothers (or Artze, as it is spelled in Basque). The txalaparta is basically several boards of varying lengths placed on a stand, and is beat vertically with a short percussion stuck, and usually played by two people. That weird, almost marimba-like sound you hear on this piece is that txalaparta (its use almost went extinct during the Franco years in Spain). Then eventually Demetrio Stratos voice kicks in. This one is a bit more on the prog territory, but thanks to the txalaparta, it has an almost avant garde feel. "Scum" is much more in jazz territory, with largely piano, but then suddenly it ends with strange electronic effects played off a Serge modular synthesizer. Then you get a cello quartet doing a massacre of Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto", apparently doing a bunch of "no nos" in the world of traditional classical music (of course I can tell many of the passages were removed or butchered, hence a massacre). "Giro, Giro, Tondo" is another fantastic number in more familiar Area territory. "Caos" is literally avant garde. I love how the sax player injects, briefly, Henry Mancini's theme to the Pink Panther! I love Maledetti, but it could be a bit much for some. Some of it isn't all too terribly different from their previous album Crac!, but there is plenty of that avant garde leaning that might scare more traditional fusion (and prog) fans away (not to mention their communist political views), but I am so blown away by this stuff I have little to complain. Even if you don't like everything here, but you like Area, there is still lots of great material to make it worth having.
Area return with another album which, much like Caution Radiation Area, slips in moments of pure sonic experimentation in with the band's usual volcanic jazz fusion. Unfortunately, the album does not feel to me to be quite on a par with the band's best works - tracks such as Evaporazione or the classical parody Il Massacro di Brandeburgo Numero Tre in Sol Maggiore feel like filler, their fusion chops don't really seem to have advanced much since their debut (bar Hugh Bullen's super-funky basswork), and the avant-garde portions of the album might be worthwhile experiments, but to my ears they don't really work. A solid enough pick for the fusion numbers, but the noise experiments have not aged at all well.
Sean Trane
Fourth Studio album, Maledetti is an improvement over the absolutely obtuse CRA album and its improvised atonal music, yet it takes as much from that album and "Crac!" whose bright jazz rock was illuminating the peninsula. So using the median between the two conduct line Maledetti is a concept album about "what if" and was packed inan impressive medical gatefold. Besides the whacky opening short Evarorazione, an eccentric Stratos vocal affair, the album starts well enough un the ultra-funky and mega-technical Diforisma Urbano , sounding a bit like Jeff Beck's Wired album, Stratos intervening as if his voice was just another synth (some of the most effective scat I've heard, since you might actually miss them) in this red-hot fusion of molten rocks. Gerontacrazia is one of the weirder track on this album at least in its first half, hovering between the dissonant and absolutely mad, then suddendly veering again fusion, (beck and hammer seems to be again the influence), but Stratos' vocals ensure that you couldn't mistake them for another band. Scum is very close tio free-jazz, often teetering wioth the dissonant demented line >> this track is probably the closest to their Radiation album, along with the closing and aptly named Caos (second part), which retuirns to Area's maddening free-improv side.Beside a useless but thankfully short Massacro Di Brandeburgo, Giro Rondo reaches another red hot fusion, but it took its time to get there via some excellent and cradual progressions and implacable chord succession. There is an unwelcomed bonus track in the form of a live interview which turns chaotic, as Stratos pushes his provications;

Please don't be fooled by my fellow reviewers twho claim that Area is misplaced in jazz-rock, but thios album is filled with it as there were previous ones and when not JR/F, then they veer free-jazz with a touch of RIO ( I can see Area signing the Rhe chart just as easily as Stormy Six did, both bands sharings fairly similar aesthetics.

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