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Gordon Giltrap - Perilous Journey CD (album) cover


Gordon Giltrap


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4.25 | 36 ratings

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4 stars The prog universe is an eternal infinity, as I often wonder when will I ever hit the bottom of the barrel! Well, thankfully that won't ever happen, there is simply so much music and so little time (yeah, and money!). Obviously, I had heard of Gordon Giltrap without ever having had the op to discover his music. Now, what is particularly sordid about this abject failure on my part, is the well-known chronicled fact that I am a devout bass fetishist who has a particular affinity for John G. Perry, former Curved Air, Caravan, Quantum Jump and Ant Phillips man, who also has published two hard to find solo albums that deserve progressive attention. It is only now that I have purchased both 'Visionary' and 'Perilous Journey', non-arguably Giltrap's two most symphonic releases. I guess one has to mellow with age but truth is acoustic guitar maestros have never really banged my gong, as the sadly departed Marc Bolan would say. No Bert Jansch, one John Renbourn (I have a vinyl somewhere), one John Martyn (same situation), no Paco de Lucia, no Steve Tibbets etc'' Boy, do I feel stupid, missing out on this! One of the top rhythm sections in the cosmos with Perry and the legendary Simon Phillips on the kit, and I just now get the thrill?!? Shame on me!

Truth is Giltrap is a master guitarist, a fluid and technical player who has a storied legacy in folk circles til today. This comment from Ritchie Blackmore (who needs little introduction to anyone in this galaxy= 'Anyone who asks me knows, that I think that Gordon Giltrap is one of the best acoustic guitar players in the world. He gave me lots of hints on how to approach the acoustic guitar as opposed to the electric guitar. He was always way ahead of his time. His concerts and playing are breathtaking. He's also very witty, and I love the fact that he has not cut his hair!" Funny Ritchie, and they say you are humourless, pfff! Sadly, I had no prior knowledge of Gordon Giltrap as well as keyboardist Rod Edwards, who adds so much 'symphonicity' to the proceedings. The mid-70s British hit 'Heartsong' did not quite reach the shores of North America, for whatever reason, so I had never heard it before until my recent 2014 purchase! Pity! A tremendous display of acoustic technique and bravado. Well, I am proud to admit that this is a splendid recording, lush with sterling orchestrations, magnificent arrangements, sublime drumming and masterful acoustic guitar playing as well as Perry's resonating tour de force. This will fit in nicely beside Gryphon, Oldfield, Colin Masson and the Morrigan, for example.

Every track is utterly tasty, in terms of technical prowess and artistic merit, earning very high marks for originality, poise, composure and resonance. In fact, some tracks have an immediate appeal, being densely orchestrated and thus staying away from foolhardy schoolmaster tendencies that can choke the juice out of any album. The colossal symphonics on 'Quest' harken back to 'Red Queen to Gryphon Three' days, an album justly considered by a wide variety of prog fans as a top 20 classic! Edwards in particular shines brightly on piano and assorted keys, surprising in both its mellow and exuberant modes , but on the follow-up 'The Deserter', the sensual sax really blows hard and fine, while Perry rumbles, Phillips thumping as only he can while Giltrap does a little electric ditty. Fabulous and world class tracks, a fine One-Two punch! Though 'Pastoral' may evoke some sweet musical panacea, but it actually swoops down with dense orchestrations of churning violins that introduce the gentle acoustic guitar, the spotlight firmly on Gordon's deft fingers, deeply emotive and crushingly masterful. The word 'beautiful' applies succinctly! While 'Mobio Gorge' has Edwards showing off his Moog skills within frantic ensemble and orchestra interface, Phillips steals the show with his Cobham like thunder. It serves as a fine curtsy to 'Heartsong', a fluttering masterpiece that has verve and style, though I am not a big fan of clapping hands in my music, unless it's a flamenco night in Buenos Aires! But that is just a very minor quibble as the piece has exquisite pace. Gordon has technique down big time, wow! Rapid, precise, intense and dexterous. Want proof that Phillips knows his kit intimately? Check out his technique on 'Reflections & Despair', a platform for booming drum rolls that stagger close to John Bonham territory, aided by orchestral violins that scratch mightily up front and center. Not exactly shabby on the follow-up, 'Cascade', a twirling tornado of symphonic splendor, where Perry carves like a slalom skier. Contrast that with the moody and regal 'To the High Throne', another whimsical union of acoustic guitar and orchestra, rhythm section backing nicely. 'Vision' ends the official 1973 release with a piano driven reworking of Quest, or at least a variation on the same lush theme.

Esoteric Records has in 2013 reissued with a further 4 bonus songs, totaling another 38 minutes plus extended booklet, even though Gordon hates the cover art intensely , probably because it was forced on him by the record company at the time. Great album that has ample merits and really quite original to the discerning prog archivist. Just please do not wait as long as I did!

4 Dangerous treks

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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