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Arti e Mestieri - Universi Paralleli CD (album) cover

UNIVERSI PARALLELI

Arti e Mestieri

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.23 | 25 ratings

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andrea
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Universi Paralleli is the last, long awaited, studio album by Arti e Mestieri, a band from Turin that have been active, one way or another, for more than forty years. It was released in 2015 on the Cramps - Sony label with a renewed line up featuring, along with founder members Gigi Venegoni (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards) and Furio Chirico (drums, percussion), also Iano Nicoḷ (vocals), Piero Mortara (accordion, piano, keyboards), Lautaro Acosta (violin, electric violin), Roberto Puggioni (bass, fretless bass) and Marco Roagna (acoustic and electric guitars) plus some prestigious guests such as Arturo Vitale (sax), Mel Collins (sax, flute) and Lino Vairetti (vocals). The creative vein of the band has not run out along the years and the songwriting is still brilliant, blending jazz rock, melody and Mediterranean colours with excellent results. On the album cover there's the picture of a sculpture by Lugi Farina that in some way recalls their debut album Tilt - Immagini per un orecchio, but with a touch of modernity that could give you an idea of the musical content. According to the liner notes, the music and lyrics of this work deal with the subject of parallel universes, emotional contrasts that are mirrored, for instance, in double lives or double personalities...

The opener "Alter Ego" is a great instrumental track where acoustic and electric instruments draw new images for you ears with soaring melodic lines defying the gravity force flying high over jazzy patterns... I think that it's a very introduction for a wonderful album!

"Dune" is a beautiful instrumental with Oriental flavours that leads to "Pacha Mama" where we can hear for the first time on this work Iano Nicoḷ's vocals. The lyrics deal with environmental issues. In fact, the title refers to the goddess of fertility revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. Mother Earth here is depicted as a dying entity, poisoned by the greediness of humankind. Men driven by gold are sucking the divine maternal sap like vampires while deserts of sand are rapidly replacing lakes and rivers...

A strong, melancholic wind of nostalgia blows through the notes of the following "L'ultimo imperatore" (The last emperor). The title seems to refer to the film of the same name directed in 1987 by Bernardo Bertolucci about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. The lyrics do not try to tell a story but draw evocative images about parallel universes and fading memories where distorted and manipulated revolutions are celebrated by godless priests in doomy cathedrals that can't hide the pervasive sense of loss and emptiness of a faithless ritual performed by rote...

"Finisterre" and "Johann" are two charming instrumental pieces drenched in a kind of dreamy romanticism that lead to the heartfelt "Restare immobile" (Remaining motionless) where the music and lyrics depict the eternal contrast between reality and dreams. You can pin down a fragment of reality on a blank page and anaesthetize your memories. Poetry and dreams can set you free and when your mind begins to fly you're able to take off on a journey across far, extraordinary worlds, even without moving your body!

The melancholic instrumental "Borea" (Boreas) is full of delicate autumnal colours and soaring folksy melodies with accordion and violin in the forefront. The music draws evocative northern landscapes while the title refers to the god of the north wind, one of the four seasonal Anemoi in ancient Greek mythology... It leads to the joyful "Pandora" where the music and lyrics conjure up strange images and cheerful dances. Here the wind takes you onwards and you set off on a magical journey to discover new moons and better days...

The following "Linea d'ombra" (Shadow line) is darker and tense. It's another beautiful instrumental that leads to the pyrotechnic drum solo "Comunicazione primordiale" (Primordial communication), full of savage energy and exotic flavours. Next comes the instrumental "La luce in fondo al tunnel" (The light at the end of the tunnel) that is more relaxed and shines for his perfect mix of jazz and classical influences.

The last track "Nato" (Born) is credited as a "bonus track" and features the special guest Lino Vairetti from Osanna on vocals. It's a wonderful piece that deals with a strong sense of nostalgia for a lost emotion that was born from a thought or maybe from a kiss, or a lie, a tune, a sound, a poem, a sin, a shout or just from a moment of madness that now your are trying to find again between a smile and a tear, between the clouds and the stars, in an image or in a deep, cold abyss inside you soul or... wherever you want! It's just a magic moment that fled away and you're still desperately running after it...

On the whole, I think that this is wonderful album and a real must for every Italianprog lover!

andrea | 5/5 |

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