SOLITARY SANDPIPER JOURNEY
Released March 1, 2010
Label: Caerllysi Music
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Spirit of Revelation (7:18)
Total Time 75:05
Line-up / Musicians
- Antony Kalugin / keyboards, vocals, percussion
- Marina Zacharova / vocals ( tracks 2, 3, 7)
- Alexandr Pavlov / electric & nylon guitars, vocals
- Artem Vasilchenko / soprano & tenor, saxophone (tracks 2,4,5)
- Kostya Shepelenko / drums (2-6 & 8)
- Sergey Balalaev / drums (track 1)
- Vadik Samosyuk / drums (track 9)
- Vanya Rubanchyuk / drums (track 6)
- Kostya Ionenko / ac. & el. bass (tracks 1, 3-7, 9)
- Alexandr Tiuniakin / bass (track 2)
- Sergey Kovalev / bayan (tracks 1,3,4-6,9)
- Roman Gorielov / acoustic guitar (tracks 2, 7)
- Oksana Podmaryova / cello (tracks 3-5,9)
- Lesya Kofanova / flute (tracks 3-5,9)
- Helen Bour / oboe (tracks 4,5,9)
- Alexandr Pastuchov / basson (tracks 3-5,9)
- Max Morozov/ viola (tracks 4,9)
- Daria Maiorova / violin (track 9)
All tracks by A. Kalugin (except tr. 8 by A. Kalugin & A. Pavlov)
Mixed & Mastered by A. Kalugin in Feb.- March 2010. Recorded in Kharkov, Ukraine
Original painting by Alla Navrotskaya, artwork design by Antony Kalugin
My opinion on KARFAGEN "Solitary Sandpiper Journey" is that in some moments I felt a strong influence of THE FLOWER KING'S, above all in the keyboard timbres (with melotrons/vocorders use making the harmony) and also in the guitar solos, besides the form of combining the musical passages inside of the compositions. Actually it is big the amount of musical styles that one can find in this disk that mixes FOLK, SYMPHONIC, CLASSIC, RENASCENTISTA and something of JAZZ, forming in certain moments very complex themes. Besides the already mentioned influence above there is other with less evidence, just as JETHrO TULL, CAMEL, GREENSLADE, FOCUS and GRYPHON.
The track 1 "Spirit of Revelation" is fully of "good vibrations" and seems to me a theme which could be used in a soundtrack from childish adventure movies, a very happy melodie and full of variations. The track 2 "Magic Moment" are more bucolic and the absolute detach comes to the charming voice from Marina Zacharova . The track 3 "Silent Anger (part 2)" is a splitting from the previous track and at this time the detach are the great intrumental arrangement. Is very difficult to me says "that track is fairly superior in relationship to another". If you are fan of symphonic prog, you cannot let know this albun. My rate is 5 stars !!!
With a total playing time of 75 minutes, the new album contains a lot of music. Therefore, it wasn’t easy for me to swallow so much music at once. At first, the music didn’t stick in my head, but while listening to it over and over again I realized that Antony Kalugin and his fellow-musicians had created a very special album. The musical style on this album shifts a bit more in the direction of his other projects, but also his admiration for Camel and Focusare clearer. The guitar parts by Alexandra Pavlov proved that they had listened to Jan Akkerman and Andy Latimer a great deal. You don’t hear the marvellous synth solos of Antony Kalugin that much in the beginning ofSolitary Sandpiper Journey, but they soon occur if you take the time to listen to the entire album. Ode To A New Life is a good example of the way I like him to play the synthesizers. In this piece, the many Camel- and Focus-influences are prominent as we can also experience on the opening tune Spirit Of Revelation. However, the regular use of instruments as the saxophone, the flute and the bassoon, for example in Solitary Sandpiper King, made me think of Gryphon, a British band that came back together again lately. Gryphon also blended medieval music with progressive rock elements. Karfagen did it again, and I really love it.
The wonderful female vocals of Marina Zakharova are new on this album. The vocals on the previous albums were not bad actually, but were mostly the weakest part of the compositions. This is probably the reason why Antony Kalugin asked Marina to sing on three tracks. We can enjoy her singing on Magic Moment, Silent Anger and the epic piece Mystery. It certainly lifts the music to a higher quality level. Her voice sometimes gives the music a jazzy touch. For me, the 22-minute epic piece Mystery is the highlight on Solitary Sandpiper Journey. This piece is divided into five parts with many different moods starting as a kind of new version of The Snowgoose by Camel. The many classical influences on this track are just wonderful. The clever use of the cello, the viola and the violin creates an outstanding orchestral sound. Also in this epic, the Camel-influences are evident, but the fusion and jazz rock tricks on bass and electric guitar obviously give the music another twist. I must not forget to mention the superb drum parts by Vadik Samosyuk which give the music a certain ‘drive’.
Thank goodness, I gave this album enough room to listen to it. Because of that, it revealed its beauty showing how talented Mr. Kalugin is. Writing great progressive rock tunes and playing keyboards seems as easy for him as breathing is for me. Thanks to the wonderful musicians he worked together with on this concept album, he managed to translate his compositions into some outstanding progressive rock pieces. I can only end this review with a strong recommendation to our readers: if you’re a Camel-fan, please, take the chance to listen to Solitary Sandpiper Journey as much as I did. You won’t regret it.
The internet, or the net as many prefer to call it, is responsible for a lot in this world of ours: negative and destructive websites, lesser evils such as illegal sharing and downloading of copyright-protected material and greater ones such as the terrorist handbook. But for all negative aspects of the digital world there's at least one positive to be found that will balance it all out. One of these stories concerns how Antony Kulagin from Ukraine and Will Mackie from the UK got to know each other, the latter inspiring the former to unleash his creativity to record and release his music. In just a handful of years this has resulted in multiple CDs released by the three band projects, and in addition to that Kulagin has a solo album out from a few years back too. As for the latest Karfagen production, it is a disc that to my ears comes across as pretty much the definition of pleasant. The themes and motifs used are easygoing, melodic and harmonic through and through, the tonal ranges most frequently used range well inside the light and positive, the arrangements are silk-smooth, the production is warm and organic, the latter adding a vintage touch to the proceedings, enhancing the impression one gets from the music itself. While only occasionally similar in stylistic expression, the band that I found myself thinking of most often when listening through the 75 or so minutes of the music to be found on "Solitary Sandpiper Journey" is Camel. It too often explored territories smooth and elegant, and, like Karfagen, also had their flirtations with folk music and jazz. In this case these tendencies are taken further, however. Among the minor army of instrumentalists appearing on this production several use analog instruments that fairly often induce a folk-tinged atmosphere, the flute the most striking of these for this detail. Occasionally we're also treated to passages with something of a chamber music feel to them. Plenty of themes throughout take on a slick and sophisticated jazz rock expression as well, the bass and guitar the most central instruments for those endeavors. Those fond of jazz without the rock added in are served a few treats too, the final part of Searching for Love with its fragile foundation and haunting saxophone being probably the best example of that. But while there are flavors aplenty to be enjoyed, this disc is first and foremost one that belongs in the symphonic part of the art rock universe. Keyboards and synths aplenty craft one symphonic delight after another, occasionally backed by darker-toned riffs, but first and foremost lighter-toned and positive constellations, richly layered just as often as more simplistic, gentle and fragile. The organ and Mellotron are well utilized too, the former extensively and the latter sparingly, but for both of the instruments in a fitting manner that does enrich the arrangements. To my tastes, however, this disc is just a bit too gentle and positive, a tad too polished, if you like, lacking something of an edge. Still, it is good music, well-made and well-performed, with a distinctly uncompressed analog-sounding production as a bonus feature I expect many fans of symphonic progressive rock will appreciate.
Conclusion. If you enjoy symphonic progressive rock and have a soft spot for the 70's version of the genre in general and bands like Camel in particular, Karafgen is a band you will most likely want to explore. Their take on this style is more eclectic than Latimer's, including frequent jazz rock and a select few purebred jazz sequences for starters, and the symphonic scope of their repertoire does cover a lot more ground too. The mood, atmosphere and feel of the compositions are more closely linked in, however, which is why I estimate that particular crowd to be something of a key audience.
Karfagen returns with a new release in 2010 called Solitary Sandpiper Journey. Joining Antony Kalugin this time are Alexander Pavlov (guitars) and Marina Zacharova (vocals). Together they create the next chapter of Karfagen‘s musical legacy. The music is familiar to the first two releases but with a slightly more driving presence.
Some highlights are “Magic Moment” which has a Celtic feel to it. It also contains beautiful vocals by Marina. "Searching for Love", is another vocal based song, this time with Antony on lead vocals with Marina on backing vocals. Nothing against Antony but I think future Karfagen would be better with more vocals by Marina.
Next highlight is the almost 14 minute instrumental track “Carpathians”. There’s an ethnic sound throughout the song. It also has a heavier guitar presence from around the 10 minute mark, which brings even more character to the music of Karfagen.
Ending off the album is the epic 22 plus minute “Mystery” which alone is worth the price of admission. It features both Marina and Antony on vocals, in some places they duet. “Mystery” is also another song that features a heavier guitar presence yet not over powering. At times the song reminds me of Snow Goose which is a good enough reason to put Karfagen in the classic sounding symphonic band camp.
Solitary Sandpiper Journey is a highly recommended release and has effortlessly become a part of my top favorites of 2010.
This was an album I bought on impulse based on the blurb that suggested that Karfagen has a good deal in common with a number of bands I like, such as The Flower Kings (TFK), Camel, Focus and Jethro Tull. Essentially Karfagen is actually the musical outlet for Ukrainian artist Antony Kalugin who writes the songs, plays the keyboards and percussion, and provides some of the lead vocals, although essentially this is an instrumental album. In his endeavours he is supported by no less than 17 additional musicians who provide the usual rock instrumentation as well as the less familiar cello, flute, oboe, bassoon, viola and violin.
The bands I mentioned earlier that drew me in are certainly all evident in the sounds generated on this the band’s third studio album, although I might add a few more to the list. Opening instrumental track, ‘Spirit Of Revelation’ has a TFK / Camel feel going on, although I have to say that at times there’s a bit of a dated feel or naivety about what I’m hearing. ‘Magic Moment’ has Marina Zakharova providing the lead vocals, as she does on two other tracks. She has a very nice tone, at times I’m reminded of Annie Haslam (Renaissance) albeit with an accent that can be a tad distracting. The use of woodwinds adds a lovely dimension to the song. ‘Silent Anger (part2)’ mixes any number of Prog influences (Genesis style Mellotron anyone?) and features Lesya Kofanova’s flute in the early quiet section. The tempo increases on the back of Alexandr Pavlov’s delightful guitar refrain. The female vocal here is purely a wordless melody line again, a trait of the aforementioned Haslam. ‘Solitary Sandpiper King’ is another instrumental and sees Kalugin testing his keyboard muscles, initially with some fine organ work. Pavlov then trips out a beautifully observed solo that has all the hallmarks of Roine Stolt (TFK) and when the keyboards return there’s a sound used by Tomas Bodin (TFK). The tempo quickens as the band start to rock. A saxophone solo from Artem Vasylchenko reminds one of Pink Floyd.
‘Searching For Love’ has Kalugin on vocals and it presents an eclectic mix with the woodwinds and accordion, so it comes across like Prog infiltrated by peasant music. ‘Carpathians’ is an epic at over 13 minutes, which in true Prog fashion has a number of different themes with various instruments taking the lead. ‘Ode To A New Life’ is jaunty little number that at one point has a keyboard sound that puts me in mind of Stevie Winwood. ‘Kingfisher & Dragonflies (part 2)’ is a laid back, short piece that sets the scene for the album’s major epic, the expansive 22 minute ‘Mystery’. The dual female / male vocal that opens the song is very pleasant indeed. From this point it’s a journey through the full gamut of the Symphonic Prog armoury. The woodwinds and strings bring Camel’s ‘Snow Goose’ to mind but other sections nod in the direction of their other influences although I’d add Glass Hammer to the mix.
Niemand soll behaupten, der ehemalige Ostblock (muss man das Gebiet nach so langer Zeit immer noch so nennen?) sei flächendeckend ein Hort für düstere Musik allgemein und akustisch wie ideologisch extremen Metal. KARFAGEN aus der Ukraine scheint nämlich die Sonne aus dem Hintern. Mit ihrem ungemein farbenfrohem Prog ziehen sie nahezu gleich mit den großen Eklektikern und Klangmalern des Genres. Alte CAMEL lassen ebenso grüßen wie skandinavischer Neuprog aus dem Umfeld von KAIPA und Konsorten.
Das lyrische Gitarrenspiel im gut acht Minuten langen Instrumental "Spirit of Revelation" dient als wahrlich sprechende Einleitung. Dazu reichen KARFAGENgeschmackvolle Keyboard- und Bassfiguren sowie beschwingte Leichtigkeit in Gestalt von Handklatschern und unverzerrten Klampfentönen. Marina Zacharova liefert den ersten Gesangsbeitrag im Folgestück "Magic Moment" ab, einem von Klavier und Flöte getragenen Akustikrocker im Radioformat, zu dem Madame neben sehr verständlich dargebotenen Texten auch expressiv lautmalt. Fusionistisch wird es hiernach im zweiten Teil von "Silent Anger" (der erste stand auf dem Vorgängeralbum "Continuum"). Sein Titel täuscht; im Mittelteil kanalisiert man keine Wut, sondern angesichts der wilden Geräuscheffekte wohl eher einen Dschungelstrom, aus dem sich ozrische Tentakel winden. Wie auch im nächsten Lied vernimmt man keinen Gesang. Dafür baut "Solitary Sandpiper King" zwischenzeitlich fast bedrohliche Spannung auf, die sich aber - nur zu angemessen für dem bunten Stilflitter zugeneigte Künstler wie diese - in Wohlgefallen auflöst. Wie passend erscheint es da, dass "Searching For Love" nicht nur einen hippiesken Titel trägt, sondern auch mit allerlei verschmitztem Getröte und Georgel aufwartet. Dazu trällert einer der beiden Herrn Hofnarren ähnlich kauzig, wie Blumenkönig Roine Stolt es manchmal zu tun pflegt. Jazzbezüge stellt das Saxophon gen Ende her, und dennoch wirken die beinahe neun Minuten nicht zuletzt des Stimmeinsatzes wegen keinesfalls sperrig.
"Carpathians" als Heimatode kommt erstaunlich beliebig, fast schon wie Fahrstuhlbeschallung aus dem Quark, bevor Tastenmann Kalugin die Sounddatenbank plündert. Schließlich verstummt er zugunsten einer ostinaten Bassfigur im folkloristischen Rhythmuskleid. Daneben verankert das durchgängige PianoKARFAGEN jedoch weiterhin fest im Prog, woran auch einige Quetschkommoden-Chor-Unisoni nichts ändern. Über 14 Minuten erstreckt sich das Gebirge, ohne den Hörer zu überfordern. Wer sich nicht daran stößt, dass nur selten Gesang erschallt, wird auch mit der stummen "Ode to a New Life" warm sieht sich auch mit dem mehrteiligen Abschlussmonster nur anfänglich für seine Geduld belohnt. Vom Junge-trifft-Mädchen-Schmachtfetzen reitet man zunächst über nur gelegentlich improvisiert klingende Instrumentalspielplätze und ungefährliche Traumgassen, hinter denen umso kräftiger auf den Putz gehauen wird - durchaus schon einmal mit knalligem Bass und flirrenden Soloeskapaden. Folglich spielen sich auch die härtesten Momente der Platte im Laufe dieser 23 Minuten ab, wobei ein mäanderndes Keyboardmotiv immer wiederkehrt und einen Zusammenhang herstellt, der ansonsten ob der Gesangsarmut ausbliebe. Dass man nur mit einstweiligen Kehl- und Klicklauten Vorlieb nehmen muss, weckt doch ein wenig den Eindruck, als beschäftigten sichKARFAGEN nur ungern und im besten Fall um eines Alibis Willen mit Gesangsarrangements. Dabei haben sie doch drei gut klingende Stimmen im Kader …
FAZIT: KARFAGEN feiern ein Fest für Anhänger des klassischen Progressive Rock der Siebziger, dessen Protagonisten besser spielen als singen konnten beziehungsweise wollten. Dabei speist sich die ukrainische Interpretation des Althergebrachten zu gleichen Teilen aus virtuosen sowie einfach nur zweckdienlichen und damit in erster Linie Wonne oder Erhabenheit vermittelnden Passagen. "Solitary Sandpiper Journey" ist Schönklang ohne New-Age-Zahnschmerz.