Electric 1976 / Esoteric 2013
Folk troubadour makes a quantum leap from innocence to experience to burn bright in the forests of the night.
Criminally underrated to this day, guitarist Giltrap has never let himself be constrained by any particular genre and his bold playing beautifully blurs all the boundaries. Such crossing over started with “Visionary” where the artist sheds the roots laurels gained in the Transatlantic stable, together with naivety, and arrives at something magical. Based on William Blake’s poetry, there’s a concept and a movement to the album that feels accordingly ancient and futuristic, both at the same time in “The Tyger” that’s full of sharp riffs and gentle caress.
Balancing the chamber dance of “From The Four Winds” with the filigree tension of “Robes And Crowns” in one swing, it takes over the orchestral territory embroidered with exquisite six-string vignettes once the sparse strokes of Rod Edwards’ keyboards run across Gordon’s strum in the “Awakening” reverie. While acoustic passages are given additional dimension by a brass section that includes Henry Lowther on trumpet and Chris Mercer on saxes, “Lucifer’s Cage” is charged with electric thunder and rocks majestically on the sensual groove from John G. Perry’s bass and Simon Phillips’ drums that shines the brightest when the plug is pulled off and the grandiosity subsides into delicacy. Yet if the tapestry of “Revelation” wraps around pure prog, “The Prince Of Experience” comes on quite commercial in its arresting effusiveness.
On the other side of the emotional spectrum lies “London” which the church organ elevates above the textual smut into romantic skies that the melancholic flute of “Night” fills with the guitar-propelled lyricism before the full band imbues the scope with an earth-shattering glory. Here, Blake’s bleak vision solidifies into a wondrous soundscape which could be blinding if it wasn’t so heartfelt. Deepening the sensation are bonus tracks: the “Visionary” demo, a microcosm of the album to show how it could have sounded with early instruments, a three-part classical “Concerto” to hark back to the Renaissance folk, and the sleek sway of “On The Wings Of Hope,” another joyous hallelujah. Fearful symmetry, indeed!