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The second Caelestis record is a transitional one, as it is the missing link between the early ambient lounge sound, and the breezy alternative pop/rock they would adopt for the “Heliocardio” EP. It is the first to feature actual lyrics and vocals (both male and female) in each of the tracks. While the album is still entirely written and performed by Cataldo Cappiello, it is here that the band decided upon its future direction. “Nel Suo Perduto Nimbo” is a record in two minds, but one that is able to juggle both sounds quite elegantly making the transition all the more gracious and smooth. That it was the first to feature the talents of future Caelestis chanteuse Vera Clinco is an additional bonus. Her presence would indeed decide the course Caelestis would pursue a few years later.

While the music is generally in the same direction as the preceding “Sky Shards” album, there a number of important differences. Most prominently among them are the presence of vocals, the majority of which are studio-processed whispers by Cappiello. There’s a greater reliance on percussion, and the songs aren’t nearly as freeflowing as the ambient lounge of “Sky Shards”. The first tracks follow more of the ambient lounge format of the “Sky Shards” album, the deeper you get into it the more pop elements are introduced. Stylistically it is identical to the “Sky Shards” album, but the addition of percussion and vocals greatly enhance the dynamic possibilities. Both albums are as ethereal, breezy and atmospheric as one would expect from an ambient/lounge record.

The songs are structurally more amorphous as the record further explores the celestial concept that the band moniker implies. Most of the songs tend to be based around one or two central ideas, but the record as a whole is much stronger thanks to the increased focus on the songs as separate entities. Each of these songs can stand on its own merits, and they now can be enjoyed out of context without any loss of emotional resonance. The compositional style of “Sky Shards” is further tightened and streamlined, while retaining the breezy, life-affirming atmosphere that defined said record. The addition of Cataldo’s vocals is a definite step towards more conventional songwriting, and the deeper one gets into the album the more pronounced these influences become. On the whole it is stylistically similar to “Sky Shards”, but “Nel Suo Perduto Nimbo” is decidedly darker and morose in comparison to the debut – but it also is more readily accessible.

The album forms also the recording debut for future Caelestis chanteuse Vera Clinco on the track ‘Dove La Luce’. She appears as a studio musician here, as she was still part of local pop/rock cover group Mefas. Her vocals are less inhibited than those on the later “Heliocardio” EP, perhaps due to the traditional vocal lines. For some reason Clinco’s soaring vocals are mixed under the instrumentation, which is the opposite of what you’d usually expect in this genre of music. The closing minutes of this track are jarring in their randomness, especially considering it started out as an ambient piano ballad. Along with the more compact nature of the songs, it is exactly Clinco’s brief presence that elevates the song she appears on to exciting new heights. ‘Dove La Luce’, despite its mammoth 8 minute length, is the most conventional pop song of the EP. The first half with Clinco’s vocals is light-hearted and upbeat, while the second half where she duets with Cappiello is far more darker sounding. It’s not surprising that Cataldo Cappiello opted to enroll her full-time into Caelestis given her enchanting presence on this track.

That Cappiello is a gifted multi-instrumentalist was already apparent with the “Sky Shards” compilation, but each of these tracks is testament to his talents. Whether it is the light electronics, the fuzzy guitar riffs, piano licks or thick, oozing bass guitar lines – Cataldo Cappiello has a clear vision of where he wants to go with his music. The prominent bass guitar lines in the final part of ‘Spettri Metropolitani’ are one of the highlights of the album. Closing track ‘L’ha Chiamato Orizzonte’ almost sounds like Caelestis interpreting a Goblin song. It feels like “Nel Suo Perduto Nimbo” is a b-side to the upbeat “Sky Shards”. Cappiello’s studio processed vocals sound more like an afterthought than an actual integral part of the compositions. The exception to this is the track featuring guest vocals by Vera Clinco as it hints slightly at the transformation Caelestis would undergo once the line-up expanded. The more pronounced usage of percussion also hints that Cappiello was looking to add a human drummer at a future point, which indeed would come to fruition on the successive “Heliocardio” EP.

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The first Caelestis album is vastly different from what the band would become just a few years down the line. It was started in 2009 as a solo project of Italian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Cataldo Cappiello. Caelestis is an alternative way of writing ‘celestial’ which means in, or of the heavens - and in a more figurative sense it stands for ‘divine’ or ‘godly’. In its substantive form it refers to a deity. “Sky Shards” is a compilation album of unpublished material, deleted colloborations, non-accepted soundtracks, and songs unfit for a typical Caelestis release. For the most part this is a tranquil and relaxing ambient lounge record. It is isn’t pure lounge, nor pure electronic music nor an ambient soundtrack – it is all three, and its greatest strength is how breezy and accommodating it is.

From a pure pop standpoint “Sky Shards” is both exhilarating and demanding. It is exhilarating in how it goes about accomplishing its goal. The songs flow seamlessly into another, the moods change as the songs progress and Cappiello’s versatility as a songwriter, even within the limited scope of ambient lounge, can instantly be noticed. However while none of the songs are unconventional in any shape or form as far as structure or pacing goes; the album’s more flowing, breezy, tranquil architecture make the songs less appealing to traditional pop audiences. Neither would that kind of typical verse-chorus structure have worked with songs like these. The absence of vocals is beneficial to these tracks as the melodies and programmed percussion are more than enough to carry these songs. All the music on “Sky Shards” was written by sole member Cataldo Cappiello. The album is surprisingly diverse in its influences, and while the album is upbeat and light-hearted overall, it never becomes saccharine or syrupy.

Most of the material is quite reminiscent of early Enigma (without the soothing female vocals and Gregorian choirs), Jean-Michel Jarre and the more atmospheric works of Danish artist Jesper Kyd. “Sky Shards” is an album with no real strong structure, as it is a free-flowing breezy record that invests more in atmosphere than in conventional pop or rock song format. All songs are equally strong, but it is in ‘Shard III’ that Cappiello’s interest in electronic music surfaces more prominently. Arriving mid album it serves to set up the following song. ‘Shard IV’ is a touching piano ballad, something the band would capitalize on heavier with this album’s successor. ‘Shard V’ is more of a guitar-oriented reprise of the preceding track’s central melody from which the rest of the song is based. In the latter half of the song an electronic beat arises, but it never pushes itself to the forefront. ‘Shard VI’ could have been culled from any of the famous big brand lounge compilations, be they Buddha Bar, Café del Mar or Luxury Lounge.

Going from the sound of “Sky Shards” you wouldn’t say this record was written by one person exclusively. Not being limited by genre, convention or instrumentation the album chooses whichever tools works best to get its intended point across. Each track is part of the journey, and listening the album as a whole is the recommended way to experience it to the fullest. The pensive atmosphere is present in each of the tracks, but each one is about a different facet of the band’s celestial sound. Mostly electronic and ambiental “Sky Shards” is only rock by proxy as ‘Shard V’ is the sole cut to feature guitar work. Cappiello excels at weaving electronic beats, ambient synthesizers and piano melodies in atmospheric, dreamy tracks that stay well within manageable song lengths. Hopefully there will be a continuation of the sound presented here some day. The Cynerea project is the darker alter ego of this era of the Caelestis sound, and while chanteuse Vera Clinco wouldn’t arrive until a few years later, it makes one wonder what she could do when given flowing, dreamy material like this to sing over. One can only dream….

“Sky Shards” is an album about atmosphere, and the fact of how quick it breezes by in buoyant, ethereal fashion is proof of Cappiello’s excellent vision for this compilation. As this is a complication of supposedly unrelated works one is hardpressed to identify them as such. All songs fit the thematic, and each song flows seamlessly into the next without any hiccup or flaws to speak of. The absence of vocals makes these tracks all the more powerful, as vocals would have distracted from the melodies and breezy atmosphere. The minimal percussion is used sparsely, and all the songs are more based around washes of ambient synthesizers, soothing piano melodies and light guitar riffing. All elements that would come to define Caelestis later pop/rock oriented material are already accounted for. In retrospect it is strange that Cappiello decided to abandon the ambient/lounge sound he perfected here for a more traditional pop/rock format. As it stands “Sky Shards” is an excellent starting point in the Caelestis discography.