Angel Air 2017
From masters of the majestic: a paean to painted life to provide peace for this period of plague and pain.
2016 marked a major health scare for Gordon Giltrap, but if lesser mortals could accept such a situation without escaping to creativity, the guitarist embraced it by looking at the bright side of life and binding together the past and the future on an album wherein placidity can’t hide emotions that run deep on a very intimate level. Hence his collaboration with Paul Ward whose keyboards enrich the veteran’s performances with many a nuance yet don’t add compositional weight to them the way the Wakemans did on the likes of "Ravens & Lullabies"; this time, the heft is rather lifted from half of the pieces which had previously been recorded with an orchestra and rendered lightly now as if to reflect their Pre-Raphaelite provenance – or inspiration.
Weaving silvery vignettes over a pastel backdrop, an unobtrusive mood-setter of sorts, the maestro’s acoustic guitars project a lucid pastorale to enchant the listener, while the ivories delicately spill pointillist drops on the landscape and elevate the panorama of the title piece, and the entire “Brotherhood” suite, to a 3D-vista. A meditative “Ania’s Dream” may suggest there’s a new-age kind of slow motion on display, what with instrumental voices almost turning “Plas Oriel” into a maudlin song, but melancholy doesn’t belong here: “The Anna Fantasia” is a solemn hymn, “Spring” a jovial minuet, and it takes “Work” to reveal a rock-minded contrast between drama and serenity. Still, Gordon’s Gordian knot of folk tunes and prog sophistication and& Ward’s sentimental telepathy come to full fruition on “A Promise Fulfilled” with FAIRPORTS’ Ric Sanders violin leading them towards cosmic dance.
If this is the future of Albion they’re heading for, it’s not the last we’ve seen of England: until artists exist there, it’s going to rule aural waves.