Mela Di Odessa [1920]

Of course I heavily dig the “noisy burst of chirping electronic tones, atonal guitar noodling, and a raucous drum solo”, but when the groove finally unwinds and lays it down, this tune becomes wide open for ANYONE.


Area: “Mela di Odessa”

From the album Crac! (1975)

Active from 1972 to 1983, Area was a pioneering Italian group that creatively synthesized currents of American popular music such as jazz and funk with experimental tendencies in song form and sound production. Led by the Orphic incantations of vocalist Demetrio Stratos, Area featured a rotating cast of musicians anchored by the core group of Giulio Capiozzo (drums), Patrizio Fariselli (keyboards), Ares Tavolazzi (bass and trombone), and Paolo Tofano (guitar).

Crac! is Area’s third album, following Arbeit macht frei (1973) and Caution Radiation Area (1974). Although they disbanded within a few years of Stratos’ untimely death in 1979, the group’s early records earned them a spot on the legendary Nurse with Wound List, a hugely influential catechism of underground music circa 1980.

“Mela di Odessa” (The Apple of Odessa”) opens with a noisy burst of chirping electronic tones, atonal guitar noodling, and a raucous drum solo, leading into a driving jazz-rock texture topped by a piercing electric keyboard solo. Stratos’ trademark wordless vocalizations occasionally double the instrumental parts, leading through a frenzied labyrinth of improvised passagework. About halfway through, the mood changes quite suddenly, as the the drums and bass introduce a funky, off-kilter groove. Twittering electronic noise, Stratos’ spoken words, and brassy interjections—including a quotation of “Taps“—bring the track to a highly ambiguous close.

In his liner notes to the 1990 re-release on Cramps Records, Franco Bolelli writes: “To sink one’s teeth into the Area apple is to experience a taste which is neither the penitential taste of the avant-garde nor the tamed taste of the spectacle. Area has proven that the poetic and the experimental is not at all difficult and suffering. Indeed, it can be energetic and contagious.”

Item originally posted to WeekendWindow tumblr