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Gian Castello

Prog Folk

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Gian Castello Taliesin album cover
3.95 | 8 ratings | 3 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Introduzione : Kali-Yuga (4:06)
2. Guardami - Parte Prima (3:53)
3. Tema Di Gwion (2:30)
4. Le Vite Precedenti (6:35)
5. La Reggia Di Tara (3:25)
6. Englyn (4:32)
7. Chi Il Tuo Dio? (5:08)
8. I Misteri Del Mondo (5:23)
9. Guardami - Parte Secunda (2:51)
10. La Canzone Di Taliesin (4:29)

Total Time: 41:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Gian Castello / tin whistle, concert flute, tenor flute, dulcimer, guitar, percussion, lead vocals, auto-harp
- Anna Manusso / violin, vocals
- Enrico Cotella / keyboards, percussion
- Marco Canepa / digital sampler, computer, percussion

Releases information

CD-Black Widow-VMNP03

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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GIAN CASTELLO Taliesin ratings distribution

(8 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GIAN CASTELLO Taliesin reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a classic of shattering proportions, a very rich tapestry of Italian folk, a savoury dose of medieval "Minstrelitis" and a oft listened to CD , coming into at least one or two rotations a year since its release. Similar in spirit to Norway's shimmering Shine Dion, fellow Italians Hostsonaten's Springsongs, Lindh-Johansson's Bilbo and Dreamsongs and even Blackmore's Night , this is at the polar musical opposite of say Dream Theater, The Flower Kings or Rhapsody!

The sounds explored here are pastoral evocations of the Lord of the Rings-style Middle Ages fantasy world where flutes. dulcimers, acoustic guitar and lilting Italian vocals (male and female) create musical canvases as if the listener was attending a banquet in some faraway castle with troubadours, raconteurs (wink to Gentle Giant), magicians-musicians (wink to Atoll and Maryson) and other court jesters. Here of course the focus is on melody and precious arragement kept simple yet highly evocative, as if to consciously leverage with the heavier, bombast ladden progrock that composes the majority of bands out there. To prove the point , this recording is part of the Black Widow stable in Italy , famous for catering to the dark, almost gothic prog sub-genre.

In any case, this is a most treasured break to the usual onslaught and a welcome relief on nights where the need is to be taken gently back to another time and another place, dreamng of knights, knaves, dragons, damsels etc...

5 luths

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From a distant corner of the obligatory world map inside every fantasy book

In a foggy primeval woods known to be haunted by goblins, you follow a will-o-wisp down an overgrown path to the next keep, where you will drink your ale and retire to a room above the pub with the dragon on its sign. Tszirmay's fabulous review led me to this CD and he was right on the money. "Taliesin" is a giant of pastoral folk-prog and certainly one of the finest examples of what I think of as "Middle-Earth" music, that which brings your mind back to the middle ages, the Renaissance, or some fantasy place you think about. Black Widow Records, normally known for pretty dark and heavy fare have a charming and mellow classic in their catalog with Gian Castello. It is too bad that he is apparently so hermit like on the web-there is dreadfully little information out there about this fine artist and his other album is virtually impossible to find. Castello is a formidable flautist and multi-instrumentalist based in Genova who has assembled a troupe of musicians to bring this magical, musical tale to life so successfully. While having Italian vocals the album really has more of an Irish sound than Italian prog and a strong feeling of the Celtic music scene of which Castello is an enthusiast.

"Taliesin" may be the ultimate cross of fine pastoral progressive music with Renaissance vibe and Celtic folk. This project is right up to par in both talent and spirit with great artists like Gryphon, Celeste, Faveravola, and Pererin. In fact Castello has elements of each of those groups present in Taliesin. The story is really not about hobbits or dragons, but about the legend of the Welsh witch Keridwin who sought to cheer up her deformed son by preparing a potion of wisdom. Problem is, her servant Gwion Bach accidentally drank a few drops of the potion that spilled onto his hand. This gave Gwion great powers and angered Keridwin. Gwion was reborn with magical powers as Taliesin and this album is a poetic and musical interpretation of the tale. The music itself is soft and easily flowing like a river winding, acoustic instruments with a folky Pererin sound as a frequent base, often bouncing a bit for a toe-tap. It makes me feel like I'm a member of the adventuring party shown on the cover of Heart's Little Queen. Imagine gentle male and female vocals in storytelling mode (with a campfire burning somewhere in the background), harmonizing a beautiful melody with acoustic guitar behind, and then a violin running away between the verses. There is effective hand drumming and exotic percussion. Arrangements are simple and effective giving each performance the chance to shine without being drowned out by too much activity. I find the material to take the lyrical and musical themes to just about the right point, never too far and never silly. While I joke a bit about Middle Earth this is not Spinal Tap's Stonehenge. It is gorgeous, fluently performed folk music. Atop the Irish-Italian folk feels are all of the cool bells and whistles, literally! Castello himself plays tons of tin whistle and flute along with dulcimer, guitars, percussion, and vocals. Anna Manusso adds violins and vocals. Enrico Cotella contributes keyboards and percussion, and Marco Canepa handled samples, computers, mixing, and percussion. An additional half-dozen folks assisted the project with guest guitars and vocals, art design, translations, and other tasks. The booklet is great with some kind of ancient alphabet drawing and complete English translation of the fable to follow along with the story. The front and back cover art, when placed side by side, form a fantastic painting that cries out for a proper mini-LP sleeve edition. The sound quality is pristine allowing the sometimes softly played instruments to fill your living room with no problems. I need more time to decide if this album deserves the masterpiece status Tszirmay awards (I have a feeling I may be hearing from him for not awarding 5 stars straightaway, but he knows that 5th star and me are like oil and water;-). But either way you are dealing with an essential title for prog-folksters, Celtic fans, and those looking for soundtrack music for their next Dungeons and Dragons gathering. It should be noted that this album does not rock even to the extent that Gryphon or Willowglass can rock-yet it is so beautiful and engaging that you are not going to care. 8/10

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars When my local more or less "progressive rock" station could not obtain a specific recording for a weekly concert program back in 1977, they instead slotted in "Steeleye Span", and my interest in Celtic music began in earnest. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the internet served the purpose of omnipotent informant on all matters progressive, I retreated into world music, accent on Celtic, since it was far more readily exposed on the airwaves. Since the late 1990s, my interest in the purely Celtic has waned as more prog has become distributed, although I retain a fierce pleasure in the works of rockers like Runrig and Oysterband, among many others, and in the more adventurous and aggressive prog folk of PERERIN and TRI YANN as well as Italians FAVERAVOLA and SAD MINSTREL. It was with interest that I acquired this accomplished work by GIAN CASTELLO, and with some disappointment that, I conclude that, while it's all a pleasant listen, I have heard it before, including in a manner more warranting inclusion on this site, by groups that may never grace these virtual pages.

While the music is undeniably pretty and well arranged and played, with mellifluous whistles, flutes, harpsichords and occasional mellow vocals, it's nothing that hasn't been played with more verve and playful spirit than CLANNAD in their halcyon days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and in some cases it's the same tunes! For instance, the melody for "Le Vite Precedenti" is that of "Star of the County Down" , covered in the past by VAN MORRISON AND THE CHIEFTAINS among others, and is starting to take on all the rote qualities of the overexposed "My Lagan Love". "I Misteri del Mondo" reprises with less success the masterful "Suite Des Montagnes" of ALAN STIVELL.

One bright spot is "Che e il Tuo Dio ?" which actually resuscitates the marvelous hymn "Gaudete" made famous by STEELEYE SPAN. Instead of reprising the a cappella arrangement, Gian Castello spruces it up with harpsichords and whistles and coaxes out all its inner beauty. In general the album closes stronger than it begins with "Guardami - Parte Seconda", with a PERERIN feel, and the restrained drama of "La Canzone di Taliesin". The fiddles seem to suit the group better than the whistles, and are prominent here.

Perhaps I am not understanding something about Italian folk music, and that the mere presence of such an album emanating from the great boot is celebratory, or that fanciful themes are in and of themselves noteworthy, but, while "Taliesin" is undeniably pretty, I don't think it adds much to the body of more mellow Celtic influenced and/or progressive folk, and is best enjoyed for its peaceful structured quality rather than any pretensions to expounding upon the living tradition.

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