The Bob, October 1989
by James Hopkins

With a label name like C est La Mort and labelmates who used to play with This Mortal Coil it's a good guess that Area is not a bcer guzzlin' rockabilly band but an outfit dedicated to funeral tempos and prettily wafting melodies that slowly and sexily intone over spacey synthesizers. There's no denying kinship here with the merry groups of 4AD. The music of Henry Frayne and Steve Jones splits into tunes where silence is an active partner to the sparse, delicately repetitive guitars, floating and ringing minimalistic keyboards, and basses that plunk like tolling bells: while at other times the songs parallel the slow. sad art/pop of the salad days of OMD. Pushing above the music like a blast of winter wind comes lyricist/melodist Lynn Canfield, whose rapturously chilly voice breathes tunes like a horny spirit obsessively recording a constantly shifting series of surrealistic and sharply detailed images and moods. She intensely describes the hills and valleys of her emotional landscaPe with clinical simplicity -- until a wildly romantic odd-angled flash of memorv adds a dash of symbolism to her gleefully neurotic lines.

By now all you raunchers and raunchettes have long ago fled this review, ears plugged with cotton and feet flung toward the first exit. But for those others who feel that the 4AD sound has its own strange little joys, but who wonder why they should listen to this trio, there's a simple answer. Area uses their influences carefully as springboards to create unique melodies and thoughts of their own, creating a production sound that is crisper and more intimate than the epic sweep of the British moodists. The sexy fairy passion of Canfield and the evocative landscapes drawn with brain power by the band give reason to hope that Area will not have to look back for long at the other side of the ocean.

This perfect dream is an extremely wistful and precious one. The music is reminiscent of what might occur if Dururtti Column were to mate with the Cocteau Twins, particularly in the case of "With Louise." The whole album is a fine peice of work, with a lot of variation within the band's hypnotic and delicate style. "I'll Gather Flowers" has hints of minimalism, and at times is a bit like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra with female vocals added. "Why Should I Worry" is a bit more fast-paced than most of the songs, with a good sense, of percussion. Lynn Canfield's vocals add a lot of dimension to the band's identity and her style is unique and does not seek to emulate others in this genre, such as Virginia Astley. The album is twee, delicate, winsome and yes, absolutely precious, much in the same way a This Mortal Coil album can be. But if you find that sort of music enjoyable, as I do, then this album will surely not disappoint you.

OPtion, September 1988
by Maria V. Montgomery

Press release, circa 1989


In May l986, Steve Jones of The Arms of Someone New had a little time on his hands and some now material that was developing in a direction different from TASN'S. So he invited a couple of friends from Office Records' ACK-ACK to collaborate and "just see what happens." Guitarist Henry Frayne also had a few songs in the works which were added to the experiment. Lynn Canfield, then a keyboard player, decided to end a two year hiatus and redevelop her skills as vocalist/lyricist. The music came together naturally and steadily, enabling Area to release an LP length cassette in the fall of '86. This tape was so well received that the group continued to write and record as often as possible through the fall and winter. This spree culminated in the release of the "Radio Caroline" LP in March 1987 and was followed by a month or two of rest.

For the rest the year, they slowed down, allowing a greater attention to detail and some guest work by a handful of Champaign musicians. Nick Rudd contributed a song, Glenn Graham played sax and clarinet on a number of pieces, and K. Paul Boyev sat in on bass. Lynn started taking more time to hone lyrics and strengthen her voice, increasing its flexibility. In the studio he was building, Henry developed his songs to near completion before recording them with Steve and Lynn. Steve. in his studio and at the U of I's Synclavier lab, remained prolific as before and began experimenting with arrangement and focusing on post-production until every song was in its finest form.

While Steve relocated to Northern Wisconsin and the group adjusted to the necessity of long-distance calls and frequent travel , C'est La Mort Regards expressed interest in their material and by May 1988 released Area's second album, "The Perfect Dream."

In November of 1988, CLM released CD versions of the first two albums, with additional tracks from White Canvas New Hope and some previously unreleased material. Busier than ever, Area was finishing their third album (and CD) Betwecn Purple and Pink which will be available in the spring of 1989, and planning videos to accompany this release. With recording studios close by, each member has continued to write and develop on a regular basis.

The band does not champion a philosophy aggressively but instead allows the music to communicate what the musicians believe: the lyrics are very personal and attempt to convey an emotional experience. With a combination of honesty and care, the project succeeds on a personal level and as a result attracts an audience with similar values. The emphasis is human in order that, at its best, the music is rich to those who hear the same things in their lives. 




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