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Gordon Giltrap

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3 stars Gordon Giltrap is a fine guitarist in the Anthony Phillips category. On this album he supposedly moved from an all acoustic, to a band with prog leanings. It is nice and on the mellowish side.

If you like Anthony Phillips guitar,the classical rock of the band Sky and Alan Parsons' orchestration,you'll find ample of this evenly spread out over this disc.

This is all instrumental.

Of the known musicians on this album,you can find Simon Phillips on drums and John G. Perry on bass.

There is also a cover of Jerusalem (the one ELP did also) here as one of the bonus trax..

Between 3 and 4 *

Report this review (#296907)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Goodbye folkie, hello proggie

Following a quartet of decent but largely anonymous albums for Transatlantic and a couple for other record companies, Gordon Giltrap took a three year break to re-assess his musical path. When he returned in 1976, he had decided to ditch the singer-songwriter style, and explore an altogether more challenging approach. Taking his inspiration from 18th century artist, printmaker and poet William Blake, he set about recording a completely instrumental album with a small band which included two members of the Average White Band.

The result is a radical transformation from also-ran folkie to accomplished symphonic composer. The album takes us on a journey through the sound-scapes of diverse artists such as Mike Oldfield, Sky, Yes, The Moody Blues, Al Stewart and numerous others. The melodies are at times familiar, their symphonic arrangements giving them a majesty far beyond the simple acoustic guitar compositions upon which they are founded.

The opening "Awakening", replete with orchestral keyboards supporting an infectiously uplifting acoustic guitar melody, is genuinely exciting. A number of the tracks have sufficient commercial appeal to offer themselves as potential hit singles, something Giltrap would soon achieve with his "Heartsong" release. "From the four winds" is one such track, and one of the album's true highlights. Here, prog tenets are successfully combined with overtly appealing hooks to form a cohesive suite.

On "The price of experience", mediaeval influences are more in evidence as apparently uncredited (on the album cover at least, but see Giltrap's website) wind instruments supplement the more familiar acoustic sounds. Throughout the album though, there is a poignant vitality to the music.

Giltrap's decision to re-invent himself as a composer and instrumentalist was a moment of true inspiration. Many more successful albums would follow, each revealing more of the supreme talents of this unjustly ignored maestro. In "Visionary" though, we have the starting point for the venture. An album highly recommended for those who enjoy symphonic prog with an acoustic leaning, and more generally those who simply enjoy well performed music.

Report this review (#389359)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A self-taught English guitarist and composer, Gordon Giltrap was born in 1948 in Brenchley, Kent and begun playing the guitar at the age of 12, eventually developing a tchnique and style of his own.Already as a teenager Giltrap had the chance to share the same stage with Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Mike Oldfield, performing in a Classic British Folk style with his guitar.Between 1968 and 1973 he released four Folk/acoustic guitar albums, but in the mid- 70's he presented a more adventurous and artistic style, as shown on his fifth personal album ''Visionary'', a work inspired by the words of poet William Blake and released in 1976 originally on Electric Record Company, a sublabel of Chrysalis.The same album was later re-issued by Voicepring with three bonus tracks.

The album is split in 11 acoustic and electric pieces, composed by Giltrap and performed along with Canterbury bassist John G Perry, session drummer Simon Phillips and keyboardist Rob Edwards.His folk influences are now narrowly limited to some short acoustic instrumentals with some background piano with the majority of the album unfolding based on Giltrap's smooth guitar playing and the dominant orchestral arrangements of Rob Edwards.''Visionary'' is quite easy-listening for the most of its part, offering a generally grandiose atmosphere delivered by the fascinating guitar chords of Giltrap, surrounded by the piano, synthesizers and string sections of Edwards and various guest musicians, featuring also some horn paassages.The overall atmosphere is close to some of MIKE OLDFIELD's efforts in an orchestral/symphonic style, trully artistic approach with some nice harmonic parts.A few parts with synth, piano and electric guitars on their maximum collaboration are closer to Classic Prog with good interplays and some dynamic breaks, but overall ''Visionary'' is what Art Rock is all about, smooth compositions with a diversity in sound and styles.

A good first effort by Giltrap in the field of artistic Rock music with a couple of great instrumental sections to be found and a delicate orchestral mood throughout.Warmly recommended, even more if you are fan close to the likes of MIKE OLDFIELD.

Report this review (#659733)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Gordon Giltrap must be one of the most intelligent and inventive guitar player ever and in same to damn underated , at least for me. After 3 years break from previous album from 1973. Giltrat gather all his forces and puted on portative a new album in 1976 named Visonary. Well, with album he entered for sure in the gallery of giant guitarists. With this release he left aside his folk arrangements from previous works and optaining for a far more complex music combining symphonic acustical parts with progressive passages, something between Mike Oldfield, Simon Phillips and in places even some Renaissance elements can be found. A bigger step for him that turns to be the lucky card in his excellent career. Having around him some top notch musicins like John G Perry the bass player who had colaborations with great canterbury bands like Caravan, Curved Air or Quantum Jump, the brilliant and well known drumer Simon Phillips, Rod Edwards on keyboards, one of the most elegant (in musical terms) keyboard player ever with some fantstic passages here and of course lots of guests who contribute to the strinngs and brass sections. This album to me is a winner for sure, some fantstic pieces here like Awakening, Lucifers Cage. Giltrap abilitis to create and combine in such elegant maner medieval acustical passages with symphonic prog, with grandious keyboards, orchestrations and all ingredinets to be a fairly solid album. Good one for sure, but the nest 2 albums are even brilliant. 3.5 stars for this one.

Report this review (#830712)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars After the release of 'Giltrap' in 1973, Gordon decided that he needed to pursue a different musical path, and inspired by the William Blake he decided to go instrumental and create something that was quite different to the rest of the popular music scene. People often believe that he may have been influenced by Mike Oldfield, but although he was area of him his main influences were Vangelis and Tomita, as well as the guitarists John Williams, Julian Bream, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Pete Townshend. The main focus of the album would be Gordon's acoustic guitar, and he was aided and abetted by a young Simon Phillips on drums, John G. Perry on bass and Rod Edwards on piano (plus additional guests). The result was something that was quite different for the time, and to be honest more than stands the passing of time some 37 years later!

I have long been a fan of Gordon's, and have long held the belief that everyone should have 'Elegy' in their collection, and this is the beginning of the journey, the first of his albums that put him on the path of moving forward with acoustic classical guitar as the main instrument, bringing in progressive and folk elements as required. Hackett has of course also followed the path with some of his solo material, but he is he follower while Gordon was very much at the vanguard. He seems equally at home just playing solo, or double tracking against himself, with a full orchestra or with a band, and the additional bonus songs (all recorded around the period of release) definitely add to the view of the musician as a whole.

When this CD arrived in the post it was immediately put onto my iPod and I often played it late at night before going to sleep, as it is restful and exciting, vibrant and dynamic, and everything that good music should be.

Report this review (#1041118)
Posted Saturday, September 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I got interested in Gordon Giltrap's work after reading an interview with Seven Reizh (a French band I found using the terrific PA Top Prog Albums search feature) guitarist Claude Mignon here on PA. And thanks to Giltrap, I have Bert Jansch on my future music acquisitions list. I decided to start with Giltrap's classic prog trilogy: Visionary, Perilous Journey, and Afraid of the Dark.

As others have mentioned, the songs are inspired by paintings, drawings and poems of English painter, poet and mystic William Blake (1757-1827). The tracks are short (11 tracks in 31 minutes), but each has a memorable theme and they don't overstay their welcome. The first five tracks are all based on Blake's illustration The Day of Judgment and the poem The Last Judgment. Most compositions feature the technique of gradually adding more instruments, which probably brought comparisons to Mike Oldfield (in addition to the fact that both Gordon and Mike are primarily guitarists known for their multi-instrumental compositions). Interestingly, Giltrap considers himself more influenced by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Pete Townshend, Vangelis and Isao Tomita.

Giltrap himself plays six and twelve string guitars, both acoustic and electric. Rod Edwards, one of the album's producers, plays keyboards and helped with the arrangements. John G. Perry, who recorded one album with both of Caravan and Curved Air, handles the bass. The core lineup is completed by prolific session drummer Simon Phillips, then only seventeen years old. These four musicians comprise the core band that recorded the next two albums in Giltrap's prog trilogy, as well. The orchestral accompaniment is provided by several brass and string players.

The album's genre is somewhat difficult to classify. Giltrap started out as a folk guitarist, and he is backed by a standard rock band, but almost all songs feature orchestration. Yet this is not in the vein of other rock compositions of the 70s that feature orchestra, such Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra, Electric Light Orchestra, Uriah Heep's Salisbury, Yes' Time and a Word or Rainbow's Stargazer. The songs started out as acoustic guitar compositions and were subsequently arranged for rock band and orchestra. Some pieces have a Renaissance feel.

The album starts with what sounds like a click track (or metronomic drum beat)... that plays unaccompanied for fifteen seconds! As I had read some reviews here, you can imagine my anticipation, thinking of all the instruments to be added on this blank slate. As soon as the intricate guitar fades in, I knew I was listening to something special. Instruments are soon layered on: synths, strings, bass, swirling Minimoog and drums.

Awakening segues into Robes and Crowns. A vibraphone (or maybe glockenspiel) plays the main melody, later taken over by lead electric guitar.

From the Four Winds is mostly played on unaccompanied acoustic guitar, with short sections of strings. Its mood reminds me of the acoustic introduction to Stairway to Heaven.

Lucifer's Cage became one of Giltrap's most well-known compositions and was often featured in his live concerts. Although it's the album's longest track, it's still barely four minutes long. Nevertheless, it's the album's centerpiece and the track that probably best showcases Giltrap's guitar technique. There is a song with the same name on his second album, Portrait, which I don't yet own.

Revelation starts off with an accompanied flute, which gives it an ethereal feel, before Gordon takes over. Rod Edwards adds some effective piano chords. The strings join in the second half. Brass and wordless vocals by Shirlie Roden join during the last minute, giving it an epic finish.

The Price of Experience is one of the more orchestral pieces, with the lead melody played on brass, strings, and Minimoog.

Featuring only acoustic guitar and a flute synth, the Dance of Albion sounds like something off a Blackmore's Night album. Interesting fact: Gordon Giltrap is one of Ritchie Blackmore's favorite acoustic guitarists and Gordon actually helped him out with his acoustic guitar playing. The track also reminds me of Steve Howe's Mood for a Day.

The Tyger, named after Blake's most famous poem, is a dynamic composition, with a driving acoustic riff, alternating with gentler acoustic passages. The track features accompaniment by brass chords and excellent drumming.

The Echoing Green is a dreamy acoustic guitar piece, with a lullaby feel. I feel that the strings in the second half are a tad saccharine and that this would have worked better as an solo guitar number.

London is a melancholy acoustic guitar piece, which is briefly accompanied by trumpet and synth effects. It almost sounds like the poem's lyrics were set to music.

The final track, Night, is one of my favorites and a fantastic album closer. It starts with unaccompanied acoustic guitar, then a second guitar, flute, string, brass and Minimoog join in. This composition also seems to follow the words of the eponymous Blake poem.

I bought the remastered version of the album, which includes five bonus tracks. Overall, the bonus tracks are pleasant to listen to, but they also show how much the orchestration adds to the material.

The first three are devoted to a Guitar Concerto in three Movements that Giltrap composed before deciding on the William Blake concept. Many parts ended being used on Visionary, so it was never released. In particular, the second movement features most of From the Four Winds. A recurring theme seems to have been altered and used for Night.

On Wings of Hope starts with guitar strumming that reminds me of Yes' And You and I. It morphs into an upbeat a symphonic piece with lots of brass, similar to The Price of Experience. I'm not sure why it was left off the original album pressing, since it fits very well and the album was relatively short anyway.

The last track is called Visionary and is a fifteen minute demo track featuring many themes from the final track list: Dance of Albion, The Tyger, The Echoing Green, London, Awakening, Robes and Crowns, and Lucifer's Cage. It has a more medieval sound than the rest of the album. There are no strings or synths, just acoustic guitar with some flute, organ, and drums. It's interesting to listen and see how the themes were developed.

The record company chose the album cover. Giltrap would have preferred a Blake illustration as the cover, which would have been more appropriate to the album's concept.

I recommend Visionary to fans of acoustic guitar and of melodic instrumental music, such as Genesis ex-guitarist Anthony Phillip's The Geese and The Ghost.

Report this review (#1473999)
Posted Thursday, October 8, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars A quiz question: what combines this album and Tyger by Tangerine Dream?

British musician Gordon Giltrap has been described as a cult figure. Primarily a player of acoustic guitar, he started his career as a folk troubadour in the late sixties. In 1973, guided by feedback favouring his guitar playing, not singing, he decided to concentrate on instrumental stuff. Reading an article about the mystic poet/painter William Blake (1757 ? 1827) "blew his mind" and he started working for an album inspired by and honouring the works of Blake. Whereas Tangerine Dream a decade later used Blake's poems to be sung on Tyger, Giltrap turned the inspiration into completely instrumental music. An American gospel singer Larry Norman asked Giltrap to play on his album, which led the guitarist to work with producers Jon Miller, Rod Edwards and Roger Hand, a.k.a. Triumvirate. This all resulted as the seminal album Visionary, featuring a host of fine co-musicians such as drummer Simon Phillips and bassist John G. Perry (Caravan). Rod Edwards handled keyboards. Also several reed instruments and strings are incorporated. In a sense this acoustic guitar oriented, orchestrally flavoured music is not far from what MIKE OLDFIELD was doing, but it's a common false presumption that Giltrap would have been influenced by Oldfield.

As a side note, Visionary's cover art didn't please the artist himself who would have preferred some art of William Blake. Indeed so would have I. The rather brief album has eleven shortish tracks; a prog-minded listener would undoubtedly prefer the intervals not to exist, especially between the tracks 1-5 (the first side of the vinyl) that are inspired by the illustration The Day of Judgement & the poem The Last Judgement, and thus form a coherent suite. The rest of the track titles refer to Blake's individual works.

Instead of containing notable highlights, the whole album is very enjoyable -- if it meets the listener's taste in the first place, of course. It may sound a bit too lame to many progheads. As Kev Rowland says, it serves well as a good night's music. Besides early Oldfield, other suitable references are ANTHONY PHILLIPS, certain classically oriented works of STEVE HACKETT (e.g. The Midsummer Night's Dream, and his all-acoustic albums) plus Medieval-flavoured folk bands such as AMAZING BLONDEL (without the vocals). One might also think of the most classical guitar oriented pieces of SKY. It's not totally out of question to add some orchestral soundscapes of bands such as BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST or The Alan Parsons Project. Thinking of that, I'm tempted to imagine what if there was a good vocalist too and the album wasn't entirely instrumental. But that's useless speculation: it could be more dynamic, or the songs could feel unattached.

The Esoteric Recordings' reissue from 2013 has plenty of valuable bonus tracks previously unreleased: the three- movement 'Concerto' is an acoustic guitar solo work in a classical style. 'On the Wings of Hope' is a fanfare-like piece finished with trumpets and strings; it would have been a good, upbringing addition to the original album. 'Visionary (original version)' is a 15-minute demo that Giltrap and his producers recorded when envisaging the album. It contains old instruments like rebec, viol and crumhorn that are not heard on the album, which makes it very interesting. These bonuses stretch the CD's length to nearly 63 minutes. If the mere original Visionary album in its shortness would get only 3 stars from me, the ER issue is well worth four stars.

Report this review (#2108030)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | Review Permalink

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