Celestial Oeuvre founded in 2004 by Joe Acaba and Jose Damien is conceptually a Neo-Classical Progressive Rock force in the old tradition but with a totally modern edge. It is a music that intends to transmigrate the soul from the mundane sounds of the cookie-cutter pop rock of today to a more bold and fresh new wave of heart wrenching melodies. It is music to scream…, laugh…, cry…, be still…, think… and live by. Beautiful music. Powerful music. Spiritual music. Wonderful music.
The musical compositions are all for the most part collaborations between the late Jose Damien and Joe Acaba. This synergy of music and lyrics consists of intense vocals riding on rich elements of Rock, Classical, Psychedelic, Funk and Jazz Fusion. All lyrical content are the brainchild of Joe Acaba and the prose are nothing short of poetry and allegory.
As the first album SECOND CHANCE got underway back in 2003, two other musicians (namely, Hector Lopez and Joe Nardulli) joined the ranks to further both the project as well as the recording process. Hector Lopez did an outstanding job playing drums on the entire CD and went on to surpassed himself on the new album THIS MORTAL COIL--- a gifted drummer with plenty of chops to spare and percussive skills that are in a word, remarkable. The next artist to hop aboard this musical juggernaut was Joe Nardulli, a virtuoso guitarist in the Morse-slash-Satriani-slash-Vai tradition. He also has his own instrumental/progressive-fusion band called: "Ad Astra, The Joe Nardulli Band".
These four musical composite that make up Celestial Oeuvre, a tour de force of progressive rock that together have created a litany of wonderful sounds, now have the prog-community engaged in delightful repartee. There first album was “Magnificent!” wrote one critic. “Supreme!” wrote another. Yet another: “beggars’ description!” Now on Unicorn Records, album two: This Mortal Coil will continue where the first one left off---Mind-boggling! ---writes this analyst.
But to every great work of art, there is for the most part, an underlying thread of tragedy weaving throughout the fabric of existence; not the least of which one of these is---in this case--- Death; the death of one of the most endearing, remarkable and super-talented humans ever to tread the face of earth’s soil---Jose Damien (the man at the keys).
A Short Story
Circa 1975, a band called DEMIAN (named after a book by the renowned German author Hermann Hesse) was formed. In a few short years the band had accrued over 40 original tunes which some had suggested were simply ahead of there time. The songwriting team in the band at that time was Joe Acaba and (ironically) the late Charlie De Jesus. This duo had such an amazing chemistry, passion and love for music that, there creations went far beyond their years and still to this day hold up. They were indeed prolific composers to say the least. Both were influenced by bands like Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and many other bands cut from the same prog-rock cloth. The Beatles were in another dimensional stratosphere but certainly their cornerstone.
It was around this time (mid-seventies) that Jose Damien answered an ad placed in a musician classified. The young bassist was embraced straightaway into the fold and was certainly humbled to join such an extraordinary progressive rock ensemble as Demian. Unfortunately, the band Demian (no connection to the young member who had just joined, but simply a one of those bazaar coincidences) lasting only 4 years of miracles, eventually broke up, and the musicians went on their separate distraught ways. It was during this period of separation that Charlie De Jesus (in 1991) untimely went on to spend time with his Creator. His passing reverberated in the hearts of all those who knew him well, and thus he was and still is, sorely missed.
After many years had elapsed, Joe Acaba in 2003 returned to NYC for a visit. As a result of this jaunt, a chance encounter occurred, which caused indescribable elation: he and Jose Demian not seeing each other after so many years of separation, found themselves together again. Over 25 years had come and gone, so naturally they swapped stories, regaled each other with tales of woe and wonder and inevitably reunited. They talked about being given a "second chance" to do what they had left undone many years hence. The decision was made to create an album that would speak to the music they both had come to know and love---prog-rock; an art form that was slowly dying. And so, Second Chance was born. Joe Acaba wrote: “We like to think life gives most of us a second chance in one area or another. We chose to call our CD Second Chance, because we ourselves have been afforded that glorious opportunity---round two that we might clear destiny’s slate before the gates of fate closed and passing come too late.” They obviously entered those portals
What Joe and Jose put together in a span of one-and-a-half year was nothing short of a masterwork. The reviews coming from all around the globe were, in their own words, “Un-friken-believable…more than we could have imagined or hoped for...Wow!” A second album was not even a topic of discussion, until an upward blip in sales pointed to the possibilities of success. Joe and Jose got to work on putting together the new musical venture, but it was while engaged in the familiar process of creativity that Jose Damian with subtle quietude but progressive accumulation began showing signs of illness. Unbeknownst to a lot of those close to him, the man was simply getting sicker with time. In the end, death’s irony being the mother of tragic humor, took Jose Damien away from wife, family, friends and fans. He’d succumbed to a cardiac arrest at the tender age of 49 in the summer of July, 2007. One thing is certain, among many other things, Jose left behind for all of us, two masterworks to serve as part of his legacy. Thus, he lives on in his music.
Joe, the lyricist writes: “We did well---he and I. The kinder side of life, which sometimes in spite of itself in tragedy waxes poetic gave him to me enabling us to complete our initial voyage together. But it was at the tail end of those final days of spoken treasures that he once turns to me and says; ‘Joe, In Braveheart, which I consider to be the greatest movie of all-time and my favorite, I’ll never forget the most wonderful line in the entire film, ‘What we do in this life, echoes in eternity…”, he concluded with a smile in his eyes. Looking back now, I clearly see how apropos his observation was. For he went to paradise with two musical gems under his celestial belt; as it was his personal karma and the poetry of life that afforded him the SECOND CHANCE to achieved his dreams before shuffling off THIS MORTAL COIL… Thus it is fitting to now realize that his works will indeed echo in eternity. Somehow he knew that.”
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil…
(excerpt Act 3/ V1)