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Riccardo Zappa - Celestion CD (album) cover

CELESTION

Riccardo Zappa

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.87 | 26 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars For my first exposure to RICCARDO ZAPPA I chose to indulge in his first solo recording, often considered his best. Indeed, "Celestion" is a landmark album in its use of acoustic guitar as a lead foil for modern classical music. What strikes me most is how much the guitar is played in a style usually more reserved for keyboards, casting a wide swath in the manner of the organs and synthesizers of the time, but at other times I they approach something akin to flamenco. The downside is that few of the compositions are particularly well developed or out of the ordinary.

When Zappa opts to play as he can in a more rooted manner, particularly in the first half of "Tre e Quattro Quarti", the results are inspiring in a medieval festival kind of way, but the second half illustrates one problem with the disk, which occurs when he goes rock, because his melodies generally don't match his technique. Luckily the end redeems the track. The title cut is the most substantial, and reveals that Zappa is more accomplished on the fusion end the spectrum. Comparisons can be drawn to one of Britain's unsung guitar heroes,PAUL BRETT, circa his 1978 tour de force "Interlife", in his manner of developing a piece slowly and methodically, with the help of Vince Tempera on synths, and cutting loose at the right moments. At these times Julius Farmer's bass carries the day along with Tempera.

Sadly, the rest of the disk is less impressive, and even the opener is not nearly as significant as its duration might suggest, and would have been best condensed to its few splendid passages. "Sonata Mediterranea" sounds like a sleepy outtake from side 2 of "Tubular Bells", which was already sleepy and extraneous enough! Riccardo comes off a few emoticons short of memorable, but perhaps such is the nature of a good deal of the classical music that forms his inspiration.

I would recommend this to guitar players with an acoustic and symphonic bent, new age fans, and other curious bystanders, perhaps the sort of people who don't mind staring at the celestial sphere for hours in the hope of finding a shooting star, but are just as happy if they don't see one.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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