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Demetrio Stratos (22 april 1945)

Demetrio Stratos, who was te become the artistic brain behind Italian prog-rock band Area, was born as Efstratios Demetriou in Alexandria, Egypt on April 22, 1945, of Greek parents (Janis Demetriou and Athanassia Archondoyorghi). He spent his first 13 years in Alexandria where he studied piano and accordion at the prestigious Conservatoire National d'Athènes. In 1962, he and his family moved to Milan, Italy where he attended the Politecnico di Milano University at the Architecture Faculty. In 1963 he formed his first musical group and performed live at the “Casa dello studente” ("Student's House") Festival in Milan, then in some of the local pubs such as the Santa Tecla and the Intra’s al Corso. In 1967, he joined the Italian beat band I Ribelli ("The Rebels") as the keyboard player and played on hit singles like "Chi mi aiuterà", "Oh Darling!" and "Pugni chiusi". In 1970, he left I Ribelli and formed a musical group with some English musicians including the drummer Jan Broad, and started to dedicate himself to his work on music and voice research, experimenting with vocal phenomena. In 1971, he recorded the solo single "Daddy's dream" which was published by Numero Uno. In 1972, Demetrio Stratos and drummer Giulio Capiozzo founded Area.
In 1973, Stratos took part in the 8th Biennale de Paris, and Area released their first studio album, ‘Arbeit macht frei’. In 1974, Area toured festivals in France, Portugal, and Switzerland. Stratos himself became more and more focussed on vocal experiments and got  involved with John Cage's music when he recorded Cage's "Sixty-Two Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham" in a version for a solo voice and microphone. This reflected also on the work of Area which can be heard on their second and third album. Moreso Stratis first studio album ‘Metrodora’ (1976) went even further into his vocal studies and research. Area themselves stayed more close to the rock and jazz World and went on a European tour later that year finishing with a large concert in the "Aula Magna" at the University of Milan. The live recording of that performance, Event '76, was released in 1979.
In 1978, Area left their initital label Cramps Records and moved to Ascolto, a record label owned by CGD. For Ascolto, they released their sixth studio album, 1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano! Oddly enough Stratos himself did release his second solo album ‘Cantare la Voce’ on Cramps. His international fame grew when, at the invitation of John Cage, he took part in concerts given at the Roundabout Theatre in New York and the Bellevue Theatre in Amsterdam (which was broadcasted by Dutch radio). In this, Stratos produced an astonishing array of sounds and sound effects using only his voice.

Leaving Area Stratos spend most of 1978 and 1979 touring the World giving lectures and performances about vocal experimenst when in April 79 he was diagnosed with a severe case of aplastic anemia. On April 2, he was recovered at the Milan Polyclinic, but his condition deteriorated rapidly and he was transferred to New York City Memorial Hospital for treatment. Meanwhile, in Italy, his friends organized a concert to pay for his medical expenses. Many musicians accepted the invitation to perform, and the concert was planned for June 14, 1979. It was to become Demetrio Stratos’ memorial concert, where over hundred musicians played in front of an audience of 60,000 at the Arena of Milan. He died in New York City Memorial Hospital on June 13, 1979 of a heart attack while awaiting a bone marrow transplant.  Prior to his death Stratos and other Area members became involved with Britisch underground act Nurse With Wound and worked on their debut ‘Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella’ (1979).

Back in Italy the remaining Area started working with theatrical company Nuova Scena. The albums of the early Eighties were the result of this coöperation. In 1983, Area was disbanned and the musicians continued their musical activities separately. There was a reappearance of Area II in the mid 1980s. Area II released two studio albums, but this was in fact a project by Area drummer Giulio Capiozzo with session musicians. A short reunion in 1997 resulted in the album ‘Chernobyl 7991’. In January, the record was presented at the Leoncavallo Social Center in Milan, where they were denounced for "abuse of musical instruments and serious acoustic pollution". In 1999 Capiozzo died. A last spin off of remaining Area musicians and children performed in 2009 during the festival "La Città Aromatica". A performance dedicated to Demetrio Stratos thirty years after his death. Here and there Area influenced performances still occur.

On the web:

- a semi-official website is still updated by Patrizio Fariselli: http://www.fariselliproject.com/

What do we think:

DB: There is no other way to see Area as the brainchild of vocal visionair Demetrio Stratos (no offence to Capiozzo). Area's sound was an odd mish-mash that drew from rock, jazz, avant-garde, Eastern, and Arabic music. In other words…difficult listening music. Still Italy’s youthfull intelligentia of the seventies identified with the band’s socialist lyrics and their strong and virtuosic musicianship which led to difficult almost modern classical arrangements. How time changed when two decades later the children of the Eighties called Area’s music an abuse of musical instruments and serious acoustic pollution. Area’s music is locked in a timeframe when difficult musical experiments were able to form a soundtrack for a social and political youth movement. Those days are gone. What remains is highly intellegent music, not meant for the musically faint pophearted or hearing impaired. (PS. The Italian Area is not to be confused with the Macedonian rockband with the same name).

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts:

Magma (France)

Collegium Musicum (Slovakia)

SBB (Poland)

Recomended albums:

♪♪♪♪ - Arbeit Macht Frei - 1973

♪♪♪ - Caution Radiation Area - 1974

- Crac! - 1975

♪♪ - Maledetti (maudits) - 1976

♪♪♪ - 1978 gli dei se ne vanno, gli arrabbiati restano! - 1978

♪♪ - Tic & Tac - 1980

- Chernobyl 7991 - 1997

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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