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Riccardo Zappa - Celestion CD (album) cover


Riccardo Zappa


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.85 | 39 ratings

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3 stars The Italian Oldfield?

It sounds astonishingly like the case at times. Listening to Celestion sounds like some lost '70s Oldfield album with waves of cascading acoustic guitar in these tight, repetitive structures built around quickly picked notes that change and move with subtlety as the track unwinds. Riccardo Zappa is a hugely acclaimed Italian instrumentalist who has released many albums over the years, the earlier ones in a progressive vein while later ones (which I have not heard) apparently moving more towards a new age musical style. Labels passed on the Milan based Zappa at the time of this first album and it was eventually picked up by a small label called Divergo who were very well rewarded for their gamble over time. Celestion turned out to be quite a hit for a time when music was turning more mainsteam. This album boasts a very unique sound which is the result of Zappa's use of an amplified Ovation guitar subject to all manner of electronic manipulations. The sounds that Zappa obtained with his unconventional approaches are easily obtained today with the use of recording software but in 1977 all of this was very hard work in the studio. The album moves from more fully realized pieces like "Frammenti" at ten minutes long, with drums and interesting arrangements, to the more solo guitar pieces like "Tre e Quattro Quarti" which has a "horse in hilly countryside" outdoor feel to it, like Oldfield's "On Horseback." The title track bursts into some funky light-fusion rhythms and is the other standout track here after "Frammenti." The finale "Mirage" layers different acoustics over hand percussions before bringing in bass and full kit in the second half. While I must admit this is a "good" album at the least it fails to stoke much enthusiasm for me. Zappa is very talented and I find this album interesting but not satisfying in the way that "Ommadawn" or "Incantations" are. Oldfield seems to have a more expansive overall vision to his sound whereas "Celestion" seems to be somewhat less exciting to my prog ear. An album for acoustic guitar lovers to be sure and likely a pleaser for Oldfield fans as well, but I don't know how important it is for the wider audience of progressive rock fans. The BTF/VM reissue is a gatefold mini-lp sleeve with brief Bio and not much else, so the Mellow issue would be fine here if you wanted to save a few bucks. 3 stars, barely.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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