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Vespero - 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina CD (album) cover

篾GEL ONTALVA & VESPERO: CARTA MARINA

Vespero

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.57 | 8 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer
5 stars What excites me most about progressive rock is when a band or artist takes inspiration from the past or from litterature. I would love if someone, somewhere could bring Richard III and the battle of Bosworth to life through the medium of keyboard heavy prog. But to be sure, that is not the point of this review, airing my personal hopes and dreams. Let me retrace my steps a bit.

Being a history buff and a sucker for historic maps i can't help but being blown away by this album. I have heard of Vespero but cannot say I have listened to them. That is not to say that there hasn't been an interest to do so from my part, au contraire. But when this album landed in my phone I could not resist it. I felt as though I were a child in a candy store. Here is an album that takes it's inspiration from the old Carta Marina, essentially the oldest reasonably correct depicted map of northern Europe. Nigh on 500 years it was created by the famous cartographer (among other activities) swede Olaus Magnus. It is a beautiful map and one of my all time favorites. Thus it is safe to say that my expectations were quite high. Could this be pulled off or would it sink to the bottom of the Baltic ocean like stone dropped from a lepers hand. (I don't know what that has to do with anything, leper or not the stone is the key.)

The opening "Carta Marina" must be the perfect music to accompany you on a time travel back to the 16th century. The extremely atmosperic intro with soaring guitar and sweeping keyboards is simply marvelous. I'm going now, right back to the study of Olaus Magnus. That is the feeling I get. Halfway in the music really takes off and dense complex instrumentation takes me through the whole of the Carta Marina, as if I was flying across it. There I see the creatures of the sea, the monstrosities that dwells in the deep and the waves that transports my ship to the mysteries of old Iceland. If that is not musical brilliance, to transport me to being a part of the map I do not know what is.

And it goes on in this fashion the album through. "Sea orm" is amazing. On the map you can see the sea snake attacking a ship, pulling it down with him. The music is dramatic and the keyboards really do catch the horror of it all. "Giant lobster between the Orkneys and the Hebrides" is equally mindblowing, as is "Insula magnetica". The mysterious music finds me at the stern of my ship, watching that giant lobster go down into the darkness and unfathomable sea.

And now, for something more playful and mundane activities. "Sledges crossing the gulf of Botnia" is a wonderful track. So beautiful with the playful mandolin. The sledges, drawn by reindeers, snow in my face, laughter and creaking ice. The winter sun of the north. The speed of the sleighride, snow falling on my face. I am there, in that sledge. And now we're racing, the violin and keyboards blurrs my vision. All I care about is the ride itself. One of my favorite pieces.

"Horrenda charybdis near Lofoten" is a dramatic track with horror and beauty all intertwined. I love the rounded notes of the distorted guitar but the violin is breathtaking. The ending "Ziphius" is the most hard and heavy of the tracks. And chaotic, yet there's order. The ziphius being a whale, reaching up to seven metres in length, this track sees me watching from the distance how the creature heads for the surface of the ocean before slowly descending. Majestic track and a perfect way to end a journey through the times and space of the Carta Marina.

I have spent the past few hours really listening to this album. Going back. Going forth. Listened again. Closing my eyes and really allow myself to be overwhelmed by what I hear. This is overwhelming music. Mindblowing music. Brilliant music. When concept and music marries in this way there is really nothing that soothes my soul in the same way. This is a truly breathtaking album, a breathtaking journey and a breathtaking listen. I love it. I really do. I find no faults. Splendid instrumentation and execution. And if I feel this way after just a few hours, how much more will I find after weeks of listening? I dare say more. I can't rate it higher than five stars but that is the only thinkable rating for me. Thank you, Vespero and Angel Ontalvo.

GruvanDahlman | 5/5 |

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