Celeste - ll Principe Del Regno Perduto

Review by Erik Neuteboom

Posted: 090321

This Italian band was founded in 1972 and released its highly acclaimed debut LP entitled Principe Di Un Giorno in 1976. The music is often described as pastoral prog: very mellow, embellished with a lush instrumentation, including lots of 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 refounded as a four piece formation, featuring multi-instrumentalist Ciro Perrino as the only original member. In 2019 this line-up released a new album entitled Il Risveglio Del Principe, still pastoral prog, but superior to its Seventies music, more elaborate and varied. I am sure fans of Anthony Phillips, Gandalf and the mellow side of early Genesis and The Moody Blues will be pleased with this very tasteful prog featuring pleasant Italian vocals and an omnipresent Mellotron. One year later Celeste releases the successor entitled Il Principe Del Regno Perduto, as a six-piece formation with additional guest musicians. The prime mover is keyboard player Ciro Perrino  with an impressive array of analogue keyboards: the unsurpassed Mellotron, a Solina - and Elka string-ensemble, the Farfisa - and Hammond organ, and  Minimoog, ARP 2600 and ARP Odyssey synthesizers.

The sound on this new Celeste album is similar to the previous effort from 2019, but the saxophone has a more important role. Most of the 7 compositions deliver the distinctive Celeste pastoral prog: very melodic and harmonic, dreamy atmospheres and slow rhythm, warm male and female vocals, and wonderfully coloured by often the flute, acoustic guitar, Mellotron violins, spacey synthesizer flights and tender piano. Some tracks contain a folky flavour, due to the use of the duduk and tin-whistle, a pleasant variety. The most dynamic track is Il Passaggio Di Un Gigante Gentile: it starts with classical piano, then a slow rhtyhm with mellow saxophone and the duduk, gradually the music turns into more lush featuring a fluent rhythm-section. The highlight on this new album is the epic L'Ultimo Viaggio del Principe (close to 25 minutes), it contains a wide range of instruments. From twanging acoustic guitar, flute, piano, string-ensemble, Mellotron violins and the duduk to a sparkling violin solo, a male choir singing in Latin, a female opera voice, saxophone and violin. In the  final part soft synthesizer drops and acoustic guitar, the soaring string-ensemble sound, and in the end intense Mellotron violin work, simply wonderful.

If you are into laidback prog (like the mellow side of early Genesis and Camel) this new album is a pleasant musical experience.