Karfagen - 'Solitary Sandpiper Journey'

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Karfagen - 'Solitary Sandpiper Journey'

If you have a passion for the Symphonic end of the Prog genre then this is likely to be right up your street.

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.

If you have a passion for the Symphonic end of the Prog genre then this is likely to be right up your street.

Gary Marshall

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