Veteran classical guitarist CelestiOwl has an extensive discography, but it is still a genuine event for serious music fans when he releases a new work. The enigmatically named musician has carved out a reputation for the spiritual purpose he puts behind his compositions and recordings; the latest EP Metanoia is no different. The four track EP is an instrumental release but there are smatterings of vocals present during one track. Melody, however, is abundant, so few if any listeners will bemoan the lack of a singer. They will, instead, be too busy responding to the beauty of each composition and the occasional darkness, even violence, that rears its foreboding head.
The first track “Hamartia – The AErrows of AEros” lays down a template for everything that follows. His patient playing during the opening sets the melodic course, but he’s skilled at introducing variations throughout the song’s development demonstrating how malleable his songwriting is. His melodies are direct, if not simple, and possess the needed vocal quality for us to enjoy these instrumentals.
Metanoia’s second track “Coming hOMe” introduces the release’s sole vocals. It isn’t singing, per se, but rather enraptured vocalizing and such an approach is well in keeping with CelestiOwl’s modus operandi. He shakes things up, as well, with an increasingly orchestral slant in the songwriting. You get the sense with each track that CelestiOwl’s compositions build rather than ride predictable songwriting patterns. These are living works to him, and he shapes them as his muse commands.
“Duende”, however, takes the collection to a new place. The surprising fury he unleashes during the song’s second half puts a bold and large exclamation point on the piece without ever sounding discordant with the song’s first half. It will take some listeners aback but there are several moods audible during CelestiOwl’s music and this is a good example. The closer “Absence – I Fear and Long for You Most” is a definite final curtain that restates many of the EP’s musical themes in a new way and expands on its potential. To do so without ever breaking the songwriting model that sustains Metanoia is one of CelestiOwl’s most impressive achievements. He refrains from running too long during this closing track.
It is a hallmark of the EP. Listeners will be hard-pressed to find any self-indulgence or sophomoric nonsense plaguing the piece. The final piece is arguably the best expression of his art yet on the EP. It embodies the word “absence” from the outset without ever seeming pretentious at all. You can revisit these songs over and over again without exhausting their capacity to entertain and engage; it is a rarity nowadays.
We can count on him to continue. He’s reached a new peak with this work and one thing we can rest assured of with this artist is that when he says something, we should listen. Anything he writes and plays is well worth the time of serious music listeners who aspire for the form to be a little more than mere entertainment; they want it to be art.