Tuesday, 31 May 2016

SOUNDS AND IMAGES

Arti e Mestieri are one of the best known Italian prog bands and have been active since 1973. They come from Turin and were formed on the initiative of Furio Chirico (former drummer of The Trip) who met with keyboardist Beppe Crovella (former member of a band called The Mystics) and four musicians from a jazz rock band called Il Sogno di Archimede, Gigi Venegoni (guitar), Giovanni Vigliar (violin, vocals), Marco Gallesi (bass) and Arturo Vitale (sax, vibraphone). In 1974 they released their debut album for the independent label Cramps, “Tilt – Immagini per un orecchio” (Tilt – Images for an ear), a brilliant mix of rock, jazz, classical, Mediterranean influences and melodic passages. The art cover by Gianni Sassi, featuring a flying funnel in a blue sky among white clouds, in some way describes the overall sound of this work where many influences floating in the air are caught and channelled through this conical utensil with a narrow tube at its apex to be blended and conveyed on the tracks of the album.


The title of the instrumental opener “Gravità 9,81” (Gravity 9.81) is inspired by the formula of the law of gravity. Ignoring air resistance, an object falling freely near the Earth’s surface increases its velocity at 9.81 m/s (32.2 ft/s or 22 mph) for each second of its descent. As gravitation causes dispersed matter to coalesce, on this track the creativity of the band perfectly blends the Mediterranean touches of colour evoked by the violin with a pulsing rhythm section and a jazzy sax solo. This piece is now an authentic trademark of the band.

Next comes “Strips”, where the dreamy, romantic mood of the music contrasts with the bitter disenchantment of the lyrics condemning a reality of empty conventions, of absurdities filling your head, of languid songs and artists whispering useless words, of faded stories about planets, wizards and gods... 

 
Corrosione” (Corrosion) is a kind of short bridge leading to the beautiful instrumental “Positivo/Negativo” (Positive/Negative) where an initial solar, dreamy part, featuring acoustic guitar and violin, gives way to a second part full of energy, featuring a great rhythm section and good electric guitar work.

In cammino” (Walking) is another excellent instrumental that opens with a melancholic sax introduction, then the rhythm takes off and the melancholy melts into joyful passages where the members of the band showcase their musicianship. On the original LP it was the last track of side A.

Arti e Mestieri 1974

Next comes the short instrumental “Farenheit”, where the rhythm goes slowly up as the temperature of a thermometer introducing “le plat de resistance” of the album, the long, complex suite “Articolazione” (Articulation), a piece about the need to live the present facing reality. There’s no time you can waste waiting dreaming for better days while Death is leading to the grave all her dear lovers... “It’s not because you think you have understood / That your future is going to change / In the mirror you must see / What is harder to see...”.

The experimental “Tilt”, almost an example of “musique concrète”, concludes an excellent album where the music flows away without weak moments.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

MYTHS AND DOUBTS

Opificio del Dubbio come from Vicenza and were formed in 2013. Their name can be loosely translated as "doubt factory" and the line up features Riccardo Frigo (vocals), Roberto Faresin (bass), Stefano Rizzato (mandolin, banjo, bouzouki), Luca Menegozzo (electric guitar), Simone Buttarello (drums) and Giacomo Barone (flute). After a still immature Ep released in 2014, D'Istinto, containing seven folk rock songs in a style halfway between I Nomadi and Modena City Ramblers, in 2016 they released a more refined EP that could be of interest for prog lovers. This new work is entitled Epico and features only three tracks inspired by ancient mythology...

Opificio del Dubbio during the recording sessions

The opener "Mi hai dato le ali" (You gave me the wings) starts softly. Delicate notes of flute and acoustic guitar draw a dreamy atmosphere... Then the rhythm takes off for a ride on the wings of myth. This piece was inspired by the story of Daedalus and Icarus and here Riccardo Frigo plays in turn the role of father and son in a dialogue that is a metaphor of a dramatic generational conflict where the wings of wax can be seen as the symbol of a potential freedom that turns into a deceiving illusion...


Next comes the dark, dramatic "Era troppo bello" (He was too beautiful) that was inspired by the myth of Narcissus. Here the vocalist plays the role of the ghost of the unfortunate Aminias who fell in love with the wrong man, Narcissus, a cruel hunter too beautiful to love anyone but himself... Narcissus spurned Aminias and gave him a sword to commit suicide. The vendetta of the gods was terrible: as Narcissus walked by a pool of water and decided to drink some, he saw his reflection, became entranced by it, and killed himself because he could not have his object of desire. Nonetheless, here in Aminias' words there's a touch of pity and no room for hate... "He was too beautiful / He should have lived in the absolute Time / To be admired and loved by anyone...".


The excellent closer "Non ti voltare" (Don't look back) was inspired by the myth of Orpheus and here the vocalist plays in turn the role of Orpheus and Hades in a dramatic, theatrical dialogue. The music is powerful and blends acoustic Celtic folk passages with classical elements and aggressive electric guitar riffs in a very effective way, evoking infernal atmospheres and a desperate ride towards the light in the name of love...

On the whole a very promising work that in my opinion is really worth listening to... I'm looking forward to listen to a full length album!

More info: