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Gian Castello - Taliesin CD (album) cover


Gian Castello


Prog Folk

3.95 | 8 ratings

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3 stars When my local more or less "progressive rock" station could not obtain a specific recording for a weekly concert program back in 1977, they instead slotted in "Steeleye Span", and my interest in Celtic music began in earnest. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the internet served the purpose of omnipotent informant on all matters progressive, I retreated into world music, accent on Celtic, since it was far more readily exposed on the airwaves. Since the late 1990s, my interest in the purely Celtic has waned as more prog has become distributed, although I retain a fierce pleasure in the works of rockers like Runrig and Oysterband, among many others, and in the more adventurous and aggressive prog folk of PERERIN and TRI YANN as well as Italians FAVERAVOLA and SAD MINSTREL. It was with interest that I acquired this accomplished work by GIAN CASTELLO, and with some disappointment that, I conclude that, while it's all a pleasant listen, I have heard it before, including in a manner more warranting inclusion on this site, by groups that may never grace these virtual pages.

While the music is undeniably pretty and well arranged and played, with mellifluous whistles, flutes, harpsichords and occasional mellow vocals, it's nothing that hasn't been played with more verve and playful spirit than CLANNAD in their halcyon days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and in some cases it's the same tunes! For instance, the melody for "Le Vite Precedenti" is that of "Star of the County Down" , covered in the past by VAN MORRISON AND THE CHIEFTAINS among others, and is starting to take on all the rote qualities of the overexposed "My Lagan Love". "I Misteri del Mondo" reprises with less success the masterful "Suite Des Montagnes" of ALAN STIVELL.

One bright spot is "Che e il Tuo Dio ?" which actually resuscitates the marvelous hymn "Gaudete" made famous by STEELEYE SPAN. Instead of reprising the a cappella arrangement, Gian Castello spruces it up with harpsichords and whistles and coaxes out all its inner beauty. In general the album closes stronger than it begins with "Guardami - Parte Seconda", with a PERERIN feel, and the restrained drama of "La Canzone di Taliesin". The fiddles seem to suit the group better than the whistles, and are prominent here.

Perhaps I am not understanding something about Italian folk music, and that the mere presence of such an album emanating from the great boot is celebratory, or that fanciful themes are in and of themselves noteworthy, but, while "Taliesin" is undeniably pretty, I don't think it adds much to the body of more mellow Celtic influenced and/or progressive folk, and is best enjoyed for its peaceful structured quality rather than any pretensions to expounding upon the living tradition.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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