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Arti E Mestieri - Tilt - Immagini Per Un Orecchio CD (album) cover


Arti E Mestieri


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.29 | 232 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars One of the latecomers to the Italian prog scene, the Turin based ARTI E MESTIERI (Arts & Trades) didn't even get started until 1974 when the entire RPI scene was starting to wind down but entered the crowded prog world with a bang when it unleashed its competent debut TILT ( IMMAGINI PER ORECCHIO ) "Pictures For The Ear." Founded by drummer Furio Chirico formerly of The Trip and I Ragazzi del Sole along with Arturo Vitale (saxophone, vibraphone), Gigi Venegoni (guitars), Giovanni Vigliar (violin, vocals) and Marco Gallesi (bass), this band stepped outside of the usual symphonic prog stylistic approach of the mainstream Italian prog acts and married the style with heavy doses of jazz-fusion.

Considered one of the most important of the jazz-rock prog bands that emerged from Italy, ARTI E MESTIERI rightfully landed on the legendary Cramps label with fellow countrymen Area and the lesser known Electric Frankenstein. What perhaps made ARTI E MESTIERI stand out from the burgeoning crowded house of Italian prog even in the late year of 1974 was the fact that the band intricately bridged the gap between the Premiata Forneria Marconi symphonic prog style and the Mahavishnu Orchestra derived version of jazz-fusion courtesy of the similar approach of incorporating a violin. The band got its big break right away when it performed at the Lambro Park festival which was is considered Italy's version of Woodstock.

It didn't hurt that the band toured with PFM in front of an audience of 45,000 and received excellent reviews from both critics and fans alike. Despite making a big splash in its homeland, ARTI E MESTIERI needed a few more decades to catch on with the rest of the world. TILT, the debut album is notorious for being a wild ride filled to the brim with diverse dynamics alternating between sizzling jazz-rock virtuosity to slower passionate displays of vocal oriented symphonic prog. The team of six musicians on board provided some of the most competent workouts in Italian prog in addition to the clever craftsmanship that went into the compositional process.

"GravitÓ 9,81" starts off with a bang instantly reminding of early Mahavishnu Orchestra with knotty instrumental gymnastics that find the violin and guitar in a violent uproar but just as quickly as Mt Vesuvius erupts, it calms down to a dark almost Univers Zero-like form of chamber prog. The shifts continue and the tracks flow together quite well as long bouts of jazz-fusion cede to tender moments of vocal oriented symphonic prog. While mostly instrumental, the vocals do emerge when least expected and are every bit as competent as one would expect from a high class Italian prog band of the era.

While the majority of tracks are on the shorter side, the album's highlight is the outstanding near 14-minute "Articolazioni" which displays a huge range of tricks and trinkets that straddles many aspects of the Italian prog scene with uncanny instrumental interplay, excellent transitions and fine-tuned finesse. TILT doesn't let up even with the final short 2 1/2 minute title track which closes the album with a series of progressive electronic sounds adding a whole other dimension to the album's breadth. While many bands existed for a fleeting moment in time during the big bang of Italian prog in the early 70s, ARTI E MESTIERI has intermittently reformed over the years and remains one of those early acts still active however for my money this debut was their finest moment with one brilliant track after another despite sporting one of the ugliest and uninspiring album covers of the entire Italian prog world. Oh well, it's the music that counts!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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