Italian prog formation Celeste was founded in 1972 and released its eponymous debut LP (aka Principe Di Un Giorno) in 1976. The music is often described as pastoral prog: very mellow compositions with some medieval and jazzy influences, embellished with a lush instrumentation (acoustic guitars, flute, saxophone) and topped with wonderful Mellotron layers, like early King Crimson and The Moody Blues. In 1991 Mellow Records released Celeste II (with songs written just before the band call it a day in 1977) and in 1992 I Suoni In Una Sfera (1974 material, meant as a soundtrack). In 2016 Celeste was reformed as a four piece formation, featuring multi-instrumentalist Ciro Perrino (keyboards, shamanic percussion, glockenspiel, lead & backing vocals) as the only original member. This line-up released its new album Il Risveglio Del Principe in 2019, this review is about that new album.
During my first listening session I quickly conclude that Celeste still makes pastoral prog, but superior to its Seventies music. Because it sounds more elaborate and varied, fans of Anthony Phillips, Gandalf and the mellow side of early Genesis and The Moody Blues will be pleased with this wonderful and tasteful prog featuring pleasant Italian vocals. And again embellished with an even more varied instrumentation: from acoustic guitars, flutes, saxophone and flute to piano, violin, harpsichord, glockenspiel, and, last but not least, an omnipresent Mellotron, wow, I am Happy The Man! The soaring Mellotron violin section can be heard in its full splendor, especially during the intros of several tracks. In Fonte Perenne it even sounds like In The Court Of The Crimson King from King Crimson, what a beautiful tribute, goose bumps! This album is released on LP and CD, the latter contains the bonustrack Porpora E Giacinto (5:50).
If you like dreamy/mellow/laidback prog, this is music to discover.
***+ Erik Neuteboom
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