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(63:05; Caerllysi Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Spektra 7:11 2. Troy 3:33 3. Transaleatorica 2 2:34 4. Terra Incognita 3:14 5. Celebration 3:50 6. Homonymous (Part 1) 2:30 7. Angel Tears 1:27 8. Zeus 6:13 9. Dionis 4:41 10. Poseidon 5:15 11. Aurora 5:21 12. Homonymous (Part 2) 2:35 13. Dios Pyros 2:56 14. Natural Charm 5:36 15. Eye Witness 1:38 16. Juggler & the Cloud (Live) 4:31 LINE UP : Antony Kalugin - keyboards, percussion, vocals with: Max Velychko - guitars Sergiy Balalayev - drums Ivan Rubanchuk - drums Kostya Shepelenko - drums Oleg Prokhorov - bass Kostya Ionenko - bass Olha Rostovska - keyboards, vocals Sergii Kovalov - accordion, vocals Maria Baranovska - violin Alexandr Pastuchov - basson Roman Gorielov - vocals Oleg Pashkovskiy - grand piano Lesya Kofanova - flute Michail Sidorenko - saxosphone Olga Vodolazhska - percussion
Prolusion. Ukraine project Karfagen is one of the many monikers used by composer and musician Antony Kalugin, and since the first Karfagen album saw the light of day in 2006 more than a dozen additional albums under that moniker alone have been produced by this creative force in Ukraine. "Spektra" dates back to 2016, and was released through UK label Caerllysi Music.
Analysis. The style of progressive rock Kalugin is best known for is symphonic progressive rock, and that is the style explored also on this production. In this case a variety of the form where the keyboards and the piano are the most important providers of moods and melodies, with the guitar having a role of just about equal importance. While the organ and the more clinical and electronic sounds often referred to as synthesizer sounds have a much lesser role to play. In many ways this album isn't all that much about style as such. For me at least this is a case of a creator having a go at a style of music, and exploring it in a way that is something of an education in how to go about creating music of this kind, but also a little bit of a guide on how to go about making music in the first place. With the association masterclass noted down a few times along the way. Hence we get compositions that move about quite a lot here, with the longer compositions in particular at times coming across as flamboyant showpieces documenting a master at play with the compositions ebbing and flowing into steadily new grounds inside of the symphonic progressive rock framework. Elegant and flowing to expressive and playful, tight and hard over to loose and dramatic, with some folk music elements there, some classical music references here and a bit of a jazz rock undercurrent tossed in both here and there just for the sake of it. Flamboyant exercises in performance and technical skills exist side by side with the skills to create stunning and emotional atmospheric laden landscapes, with some tongue in cheek instrument details tossed in at an unexpected place, again just for the sake of it. At the best moments, of which there are a few, all of this combine into brilliantly engaging landscapes that are truly mesmerizing, moods and atmospheres that hooks you in and won't let you go until that particular scene has concluded. And while not everything is up to such a high standard, I dare say that this is an album without any real weak spots as such. There are elements here that could be improved upon, but there's nothing here that really needs an improvement. From the delicate and tender to the playful and uplifting and through to the dramatic and vibrant, this is an album that just about has it all. Except an abundance of vocals. The songs that do feature vocals are, on the other hand, impressive. With one of them, 'Terra Incognita', among my personal highlights on this production.
Conclusion. "Spektra" strikes me as a very good example of a modern day symphonic progressive rock album that showcase the joy of being expressive and creative while also residing within the more accessible parts of the progressive rock universe. The numerous alterations and style variations represent the challenging aspects from a listener's point of view, and while there are arrangements and instrument performances I'd guess are both technically difficult and demanding to perform they never get in the way of being interesting, intriguing and captivating to listen to. That the compositions by and large explore a more traditional variety of the form probably needs to be stated too. This is a rock solid example of symphonic progressive rock created in a contemporary era, an expressive and joyfully flamboyant production with many fine moments of brilliance to enjoy.
Progmessor: February 2023
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