Monday Notes

Area, Arbeit macht frei. Music and revolution

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Leggi in Italiano

[Note di lunedì n.89] That of Area is difficult music, not easy to listen to. Desecratory music, full of political content and revolutionary intentions, the product of a time that was complicated and full of conflicts. It is not easy to listen to Arbeit macht frei without thinking about the context in which it was composed. If we do, however, we can appreciate a jazz-rock piece of rare beauty.

Arbeit Macht Frei opens with a drum introduction on which the first riff begins to take shape (1’24”). Shortly afterwards the saxophone solo begins (2’30”), soon joined by piano and guitar for a very exciting collective improvisation (3’01”).

Area Arbeit macht frei - primo riff
Area Arbeit macht frei – first riff

The second riff has a slower tempo and is the basis for the sung part (4’33”). The lyrics take up the famous phrase written at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp ‘Work makes you free’, using it provocatively to claim that even an apparently free society actually hides a form of slavery. It was 1973 and Area were participating in their own way in the fights of the labour movement.

Area Arbeit macht frei - secondo riff
Area Arbeit macht frei – second riff and sung chorus

The third riff (5’55) is played a tone above, the piece in fact modulates from Bb minor to C minor. On this accompaniment we can hear a fiery solo played on the synthesiser.

Area Arbeit macht frei - terzo riff
Area Arbeit macht frei – third riff

The solo ends on a denser phrase, based this time on sixteenth notes (6’50”). This passage reminds of King Crimson and the sounds of progressive rock.

Area Arbeit macht frei - quarto riff
Area Arbeit macht frei – fourth riff

Although the song is very freely flowing and full of solos, the series of riffs is anything but random. The phrases become gradually more complex, long and rhythmically interesting, with a crescendo culminating in the beautiful and effective sixteenth notes phrase.

Area’s music is certainly affected by the context in which it was born and developed. To listen to it, one must immerse himself in their world and disregard certain contents that are now outdated. However, this effort will be repaid because it will allow you to fully appreciate an exceptional band, one of the best Italian rock bands of all time.

Until next Monday!

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