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Antony Kalugin - Marshmallow Moondust CD (album) cover

MARSHMALLOW MOONDUST

Antony Kalugin

 

Symphonic Prog

4.02 | 93 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Collaborators haven't yet shown enthusiasm for this brand new solo album by the frontman of KARFAGEN, SUNCHILD and HOGGWASH from Ukraine (at least not in reviews), whereas each of the five reviews by non- collabs are full-rated. Anyway, I can assure you, I stand wholeheartedly behind my own rating, with all my 37 years of prog listening history. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was so thrilled by a new prog album. Right at the first listening, within the very first few minutes, I knew I would love it, if the charm of the beginning would grace the whole album. And it does. Yes, I love this album!

If I ever feel the need to use the words "Prog Heaven", it is now. By that I underline the easiness of enjoying this instrumental music, feeling blissfully happy. As we know, more demanding prog music doesn't make the impression right away, one needs to digest it and listen to it time and time again before finally "getting" it. That's not the case here: you're instantly grabbed by the beautiful and dynamic flow of melodies and excellent, multi- levelled mellow symphonic prog soundscape. And Antony made it all by himself, ie. played all the instruments. That's just amazing (but it's NOT affecting my rating)! He's a master at keyboards as anyone familiar with e.g. Karfagen knows, but his guitar playing is very good too, and even the drums do not sound fakey (that surely was one of the most critical aspects). The sounds of flute and saxophone are not "real" since Antony and his co- producer Will Mackie decided to stick to the concept of a one man record. Undoubtedly a real flautist/saxophonist would have made a better and fuller impact, but everything that's heard here is enjoyable.

The cd contains only the two main epics, both 20:20 long; I'm not familiar with the 7:20 versions featured in the digital album. I think the sound is best compared to WILLOWGLASS, and CAMEL at their best, naturally with a bigger dominance on keyboards -- but also they can be sonically compared to Camel's finest moments. There are also sharper key parts reminiscent of ELP, but a Camel-like mellowness is never very far away, which is not to say this music would lack dynamics.

Perhaps 'Marshmallow' is the one that flows more passionately and coherently. The beautifully melodic composition is inspired all the way, and the sounds (keys especially) are simply marvellous. 'Moondust' may not be quite as smooth in its twists and turns, which actually helps it sound different from 'Marshmallow'. It also has more flute & sax parts. The synths at the beginning have a momentary Vangelis vibe. Concerning both tracks, the colourful band sound doesn't pale against Karfagen, and Antony also adds some wordless voicing here and there. In a way 'Moondust' is the more varied piece, having more notable jazz nuances and containing also longer delicate movements. Perhaps the end is a bit modest for a composition of this scale, as the more dynamic movement before the peaceful coda ends quite suddenly (this may have something to do with the wish to make each piece exactly 20:20 in length). That's however a harmless tiny detail, and frankly I prefer music to leave you longing for the next listening round instead of building a gigantic and extended grand finale to leave you exhausted.

If you enjoy melodic, instrumentally oriented symph prog á la CAMEL and WILLOWGLASS (whose Andrew Marshall I see as a kindred spirit to Kalugin, sharing similar strong influences from the 70's), do yourself a favour and get this album. BTW, I also like how the cover art (and two mini posters) by Igor Sokolskiy contains references to "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This is a timeless prog masterpiece, and certainly my favourite album of 2020!

Matti | 5/5 |

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