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Ellesmere - Les Châteaux De La Loire CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 68 ratings

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4 stars Ellesmere is the enchanting project set up by Taproban guitarist and bassist Roberto Vitelli that seeks to put in musical form the beauty of the castles on the Loire River in France, arguably one of the most visually stimulating tours one could hope to visit. Interestingly enough, French progger Patrick Broguière took up a similar venture, depicting glorious edifices such as Chambord, Chenonceaux, D'Amboise and Blois, albeit in a slightly different style. Here Vitelli strays into Anthony Phillips territory, who happens to be a guest narrator on this album by no sheer coincidence, a pastoral universe mostly directed by 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, as well as occasional bass, electric guitar, E-bow and Moog bass pedals. Guests include John Hackett who provides bucolic flute, Daniele Pomo of Ranestrane on drums, Fabio Bonuglia splashes loads of mellotron on each track as well as Paolo Carnelli on piano and synths. Luciano Regoli (RRR) adds some vocals when needed but he is also a fabulous painter of the artwork presented here. Throw in some strings and other orchestrations and you see the full picture.

The music is highly atmospheric, gentle and sweet background music that has no pretensions other than to deliver sumptuous melodies, played with restrained passion and obvious enjoyment. All the tracks flow majestically, very much the lovely river that provides the inspiration, occasional effects (creaking doors, thunderclaps, galloping horses), making this a very rural adventure, far from the maddening urban sprawl and its distinctive cacophony. There are no real highlight tracks that need development as everything just fits into a general whole, though the narration by Ant Phillips (tracks 1 and 11) is quite precious. Longer tracks "Chambord" and "Chaumont-sur-Loire" are terrific pieces that exalt perfectly the virtues of this special recording. Bonus track "The Ancient Samovar" features Luciano Regoli, singing in English quite perfectly as well as some pizzicato strings that spice the mood charmingly. The second bonus piece ends the album on a "Wintry Afternoon" note, a cool and atmospheric piano ?driven finale to a highly enjoyable adventure, a perfect Sunday morning selection, easy and relaxing on the ears and delightfully melodic and attractive.

The cover artwork is some of the best ever, a solitary hare glancing over at the chateau de Chambord, a stunning vista in real life, let alone in artful form.

4 Sancerre greetings

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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