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Riccardo Zappa - Celestion CD (album) cover

CELESTION

Riccardo Zappa

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Andrea Cortese
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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 1977: what a wonderful debut solo album. Locanda delle Fate were not alone at that time!

Zappa is one of the greatest acoustic guitarists in Italy. A musician interested in fusion between classic instruments and sounds with more electronic parts and instruments. His trade mark is his famous "Ovation" guitar of which you can listen its stunning and pleasant chant. Then, after some minutes the great skills of Zappa are well evident. His instrumental works are the best ever released in the whole italian prog scene. "Celestion" is the proof with its long (over 10 minutes) and memorable opener "Frammenti".

Near the end of the opener a fantastic guitar's effect (it seems to be the bagpipes!).

Soon the album became very popular in Italy mainly due to the new role for the acoustic and classic guitars. The first time in prog: classic guitar in such a venerable work. The listener is completely bown away by all these five compositions. There are not many comparisons to be made. Many prog artists are famous for their instrumental-based works, as for example Mike Oldfield and Bo Hansson. None of them sounds like Zappa. None in particular in none of other sub-genre of prog sounds like him. He was an extraordinary discovery for me. I'm sure it'll be an incredible experience also for you all. His first solo work is a must have for any good prog lover. Also for the wonderful and delicate mix between classic and modern side of music.

Essential record.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#81767)
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prognut
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A strong debut of this Italian multi-instrumentalist. Influences from Classical music to Mike Oldfield are clear. Strong and very sophisticated guitarrist!. Long tracks, with all the elements that you may expect from a symphonic stand point. My fellow reviewer (Andrea) had put it right, a wonderful and delicate mix between classic and modern music.

I have not hear his latest stuff, but this one is a keeper and a slow grower. Beautiful music just to relay and enjoy, whatever you like to do!! 4 stars

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Send comments to Prognut (BETA) | Report this review (#84790)
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Excellent!

Right now i have on mind a phrase used in Ayreon`s The Human Equation which says "i am convinced now, they are essential"... the fact is , that since i received this album (you know who gave it to me, so many thanks) i have listened to it so many times, my first experience with Riccardo Zappa was his second album called "Chatka" and i reviewed it with 4 stars, at first i thought that Celestion was equal to Chatka, in fact i didn`t notice a hugh differente bewteen them (still thinking that there`s not a huge difference though) but i am convinced now, this album is essential , beautiful and yes, better than Chatka.

Again, like other italian albums that i love, here the only "bad" point, is the album`s short 34 minutes lenght, but actually, that doesn`t matter with such a beauty.

Out of that beautiful country called Italy, Riccardo Zappa made his debut effort in 1977, maybe a bit late talking about italian prog rock at it`s best (70-75), nonetheless this was another of those gems that were released in the late 70`s, but this time we are appreciating an album completely instrumental, with an acoustic guitar virtuoso as the main performer, so as you imagine, and despite the other musicians who fill the album and music very well, the sound of acoustic guitar takes the album all the way.

"Frammenti", the first and the most exquisite song, also the longest song here with over 10 minutes of amazing sound, which shows us at the begginning an excellent "progressive" introduction , the guitar starts with a low sound, but then louder and louder... then during the song we can clearly notice the virtuosisim and skill of this guitarist, when i say acoustic guitar i always remember Mahavishnu who is my personal guitar hero and maybe other guitarists, now i must take Riccardo Zappa as one of my favorites all time, with a classical style in his playing and in his sound. The song is always constant and with an excellent sound, at some point accompannied with synths.

"Tre e Quattro Quarti" is the following gem of this album, i cannot say anything but positive words, the sound is simply beautiful and what im sure is that this song is maybe the most recognizable when listening, i mean, it is the first song that i remember and when the first note is playing i know everything and "sing" it to myself, it has kind of happy sound and again very classical, but, around minute 3 it changes to a faster song with drums , bass and the marvelous sound of the acoustic guitar, yeah, it sounds very prog.

"Celestion" it has to exist, the self titled track with a soft piano begginning and with the guitar tending to sound more "electronic" during it, this is the second longest song here, and is again an excellent composition, as i mentioned you will notice besides the obvious guitar sound, the synths effects and some very well chosen percussion. Again, as the previous one it changes in the third minute to a faster and rocker song, which bass lines that i clearly remember, any symphonic and italian prog lover will enjoy this for sure.

"Sonata Mediterranea" as usual happens with me that the shortest song is my less favorite, this is not the exception, but be careful, that doesn`t mean that the song is not good, not at all, is excellent, very soft and calmed, such a beautiful classical sound.

"Mirage" wow, is the last track of this beautiful album, as i said in the introduction of my review, the album`s lenght is so short, and all those beautiful compositions make me want more, sadly this finish with Mirage, an excellent song to finish the album, nothing new that hasn`t been said before, but again i have to remark that is a great composition with an excellent sound and the sublime acoustic guitar playing, reminding me a bit to the first song, starting with keyboard and then the guitar which is memorable and simply beatiful, i know, i have repeated so much this words, but believe me i cannot describe it but like this, pretty nice percussion during it, and it finishes with another part of the album that i remember always when i talk about Riccardo Zappa.

I hope not to bore you with this review, im just putting what i feel, and please if you dont know it, at least give it a try, it`s ... lovely, amazing, BEAUTIFUL!

Masterpiece!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#91115)
Posted Friday, September 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This Album debut of Riccardo Zappa is very good in musical matter, because their good knowledge of classic music use them of an appropriate way to originate a mixture of styles whose result is something impressive. 4 stars!

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Send comments to JoseMendoza (BETA) | Report this review (#105067)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a good surprise listening to this album! I didn't think I could like an instrumental album for mainly acoustic guitars so much, but the tunes here are so beautiful, sunny and intense that you could almost sing them. Riccardo Zappa gives birth to a timeless work, where he can display all his skills and fantasy, but in doing so he never tries to sound flamboyant, never exaggerates, making his music sound even simple and straight. "Frammenti" is a masterstroke: classical inspired arpeggios and folk tunes chase each other, ending up in a phased guitar heaven which never fails to leave me breathless. "Tre o Quattro Quarti" always reminds me of Angelo Branduardi, maybe for its particular hue lost somewhere between Reinassance and celtic folk (with a beautiful binaural echo... I don't know if Riccardo Zappa also produced this album. In this case he would be one of the finest Italian producers).The title track begins with atmospherical passages, with interesting sound effects, then evolves as a "poppy" piece, with synths reminding me of Le Orme. Maybe this was supposed to be the core of the album, and it's a good track indeed, but I feel it as the weakest one in the bunch. When you get to "Sonata Mediterranea" you really get somewhere else, a dreamy and fascinating waltz with a wonderful melancholic main melody; guitars are also used to mock mandolins, and the whole effect is the same as a quiet evening on the Mediterranean Sea, just after sunset... "Mirage" is the natural consequence to this piece, a lengthy track reminding "Tubular Bells" in its piling up tunes all deriving from the main arpeggio, the perfect way to close an excellent album. Now, I'm looking at my acoustic guitar and dreaming of playing such heavenly stuff...

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Send comments to paolo.beenees (BETA) | Report this review (#118435)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
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Honorary Collaborator
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.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#197568)
Posted Tuesday, January 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
apps79
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Neo Prog Team
3 stars A very succesful guitarist from Forli,Emilia-Romagna,RICCARDO ZAPPA was born in 1951 and his first touch with professional music was as a composer for the album ''Le ciliegie'' of Fiorella Mannoia back in 1969.His first album was a collaboration with Klaus Aulehla on ''Aulehla & Zappa'' in 1974,featuring acoustic ballads.In 1977 Zappa begins his personal journey in music with Celstion,released on Divergo.The album succeeded a double re-issue both on Mellow Records and BTF and is really easy to find nowadays.

STYLE: The Italian MIKE OLDFIELD?Propably yes,at least for this release.''Celestion'' is dominated by the magical acoustic chords of Zappa over a slight new-age atmosphere, created by the background atmospheric keys of Vince Tempera (ex-Il Volo).Lots of classical leanings,nice use of mandolin,but a pretty low mix for the rhythm section.Often the album is characterized by a melow meditterenean feeling in its smoother moments,offering dreamy soundscapes for the listener.A good amount of waving electronics makes the listening even more atmospheric.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: MIKE OLDFIELD all the way.

PLUS: Awesome performance by Zappa on acoustic chords,a real seminar for fans of classic/acoustic guitar.Dreamy and ethereal soundscapes,which make the listener travel in another world.Classical and mediterrenean influences blend in a nice way.

MINUS: Not that personal sounding,MIKE OLDFIELD made this introduction to art rock five years back.The mass of acoustic guitars and resemblance of the tracks aren't among the album's high points.

WILL APPEAL TO:...Fans of MIKE OLDFIELD,new-agey art rock and students of guitars.

CONCLUSION/RATING: Despite the straight musicianship and the lack of diversity, ''Celestion'' can be a pure magic if listened under the appropriate circumstances....a nice view,some great wine and a relaxed mood.A nice purchase for fans of acoustic prog....3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#211557)
Posted Friday, April 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
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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.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#228839)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Define the Italian Mike Oldfield Riccardo Zappa is correct. But you can not see how "Celestion" is a really nice and relaxed album. The songwriting is not marked on the power, but more than anything else on the listening pleasure. Extensive use of acoustic guitar, so, in a calm and careful music. not too electronic keyboards and lots of baroque melody. But not pompous. Also the production is light and relaxed. What else to add? this album is hard to think of the Italian Progressive economy. Rather I consider "Celestion" a great album of Folk Prog. Certainly if you love acoustic guitar "Celestion" is another album for your collection.

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Send comments to 1967/ 1976 (BETA) | Report this review (#775802)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 | Review Permalink

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