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Area: Live 2012

Italian veterans put the progressive into prog.

Italian band Area re-formed in 2009, and the slightly avant-garde political acerbity that separated them from their proggier contemporaries is firmly in place on this celebratory two-disc set.

Disc one offers an entertaining, ruggedly spirited trawl through their classic 70s-era repertoire. However, it’s the trio format on disc two which illustrates the musical depth available to this still intriguingly powerful entity.

Paulo Tofani’s guitar work bites deep and hard into the eastern vibes of Encounter #1, but the three-piece scores over the ensemble in the space it allows Patrizio Fariselli’s acoustic piano work. As a soloist, his gift with a lyrical flourish is occasionally reminiscent of Keith Emerson and Keith Jarrett, without in any way being overshadowed by such comparisons.

The dialogue between his chord work and Ares Tavolazzi’s expansive acoustic bass work on Encounter #2 and Aten are spellbinding highlights. With exotic atonal electronic forays and ruminative hat tips to jazz, it could be all end up an indulgent mish-mash, yet Area’s astute grasp and control of these diverse elements ensures keen precision and focus are unerringly maintained.