Arti & Mestieri: Tilt (1974 )
When you pick up a selection of someone's record collection at an import shop in Downtown Sydney and only have to pay a token price to acquire same, you wouldn't necessarily call yourself extravagant if you decided to take a punt on buying lots of records from some bands that you had never heard of before. Such was the dilemma I faced about 15 years when some unfortunate chap from Europe off loaded his collection of prog rock to a shop that had little or no knowledge of the gems contained therein. Amongst the minor masterpieces this guy was selling, (Banco, Goblin, Area, Atoll, Anyone's Daughter, Alquin, Museo Rosenbach, Mona Lisa, Burning Red Ivanhoe, Cornucopia, Delirium, Guru, Guru, Harmonia, Jane, Krokodil, Message, Neu, I Nomadi, Pentacle, Peregio and some other rarer items), was an L.P. called "Tilt" by Arti & Mestieri. Apart from not believing my luck by finding all those Banco and Goblin gems I had been chasing for over a decade, I realised this guy had amassed some of the most sought after records from the 70's. In my country, records of this calibre were as rare as rocking horse shit.
With my wallet devoid of any money and the shop owner happy to be rid of such "unknown rubbish", I raced home to throw on the 1st L.P. that I picked up. The first few listens of Tilt revealed these guys were extremely capable musicians and threw in more than enough time changes to satisfy this listener's appetite. Similarities include Jean Luc Ponty, because of the very emotive violin playing, Peregio, some Area (without the vocals of Demetrio Stratos, that some would find off putting), a small mixture of Banco with a bit of PFM, King Crimson and plenty of Mahavishnu Orchestra thrown in to complete the mixture. Although not as wholesome in the song writing department as the aforementioned bands, A.M. certainly stand on their own feet as being extraordinarily talented. The drummer, Furio Chirico lives up to his name with some furiously dynamic stick work and has been complemented on such incredible speed and dexterity within other people's reviews. As a jazz / fusion drummer, he is in the same league as Lenny White and possibly Bill Bruford, although I find B.B. has a more appealing style overall.
You will be treated to a very generous serving of keyboard, guitar and sax interplay throughout both sides of this album and apart from the last track on side 2, there is nary a dull moment to be heard. The longest track, at over 13 minutes, "Articolazioni" showcases everything to be enjoyed from this incredibly important period of the 1970's. Although Giovanni Vigliar sings in his own native tongue, he has a very delicate voice and would appeal to those who can't tolerate Area's somewhat "unusual" vocalist.
Their later releases are supposed to be slightly inferior to Tilt but not having heard them, I can't really comment. If you wanted to introduce someone to Italian prog rock and were able to provide them with a 74 minute compilation disc to whet their appetite, here are the ingredients. At least 2 or 3 tracks each from the essentials like, PFM, Banco, Goblin, Le Orme, Acqua Fragile, Maxophone, together with "Articolazioni" mixed in the middle somewhere. Although the rest of the tracks on Tilt are impressive enough when heard as part of the whole album, they aren't really strong enough to match the brilliance of those other stalwarts of the Italian prog scene during the 70's. Worth having for the epic track but not entirely essential!