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Antony Kalugin - Chameleon Shapeshifter CD (album) cover

CHAMELEON SHAPESHIFTER

Antony Kalugin

 

Symphonic Prog

4.12 | 54 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars As a prog-lover whose biggest long-time favourites [of the seventies] include Genesis, Yes, Camel, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield and Renaissance, I can sincerely declare Antony Kalugin from Ukraine to be one of my favourite prog musicians of recent years. His solo albums and the KARFAGEN albums offer the kind of melodic and soaring instrumentally oriented symphonic prog that I greatly enjoy. I don't see significant differences between the two (except of course for the fact that Marshmallow Moondust and Stellar Gardener were entirely performed by him), and since this album is a band work, it could have as well been a Karfagen album I guess. It also differs from the mentioned Kalugin albums in the structure: no two vinyl-side long epics this time, just one which is followed by five shorter pieces.

'Chameleon' (19:40) is simply marvelous instrumental epic! The fresh and CAMEL-like mellowish soundscape is relatively easy on the ears -- not a bad thing, is it? -- but the symphonic composition is packed with action so to speak. In other words progress, progressivity, in the means of constantly going forward. The melodies are full of emotion and the shifts from one movement to another feel quite natural, although here and there I would have even liked to stay a bit longer in the certain moods. The guitars of Max Velychko and Kalugin's wide cast of keyboards build really beautiful and uplifting arcs of melodies, not forgetting the flute either. Karfagen collaborator Olha Rostovska adds some occasional vocalising. The most romantic moments may approach the sonic world of Vangelis (another of my long-time favourite musicians). Full score for this gorgeous piece.

'Shapeshifter' is also very uplifting from the melodic point of view. Electric guitar solo is excellent, but the soprano sax and the choral-vocals sound a bit too cheesy. Funnily titled 'Exceptional Chamel Ballard' -- something like a Camel Ballad? -- indeed has a Blade Runner reminding beginning as BrufordFreak points out. The often used negative term "prog by numbers" could be used here, to be honest, but most of the sonic details are enjoyable, only some brief ingredients I slightly dislike (such as Antony's freaky voice part).

'House on the Hill' is a very mellow, Celtic flavoured four-minute composition with an important role for the flute. Pretty, sure, but luckily the whole album is not in this direction. The easy-listening music reminding sax returns in 'Wonderous Glory', to an unfavourable effect if you ask me. Also the human voices are frankly quite unnecessary in this piece. Sometimes I get the feeling that Antony Kalugin tries too hard, ie. overproduces his compositions, instead of relying on the essentials of song-writing where less can truly be more.

The vocal song 'Key' (why is it marked as a bonus track?) is an excellent and, most of all, very balancing way to end this album. Comparisons to STEVE HACKETT at his calmest are adequate. Kalugin's own warm voice and the vocal harmonies fit perfectly to the nearly nocturnal soundscape featuring beautiful acoustic guitar. For the little minuses here and there, I feel four stars is the right rating for this album instead of five, which is how I'd rate the long epic. Anyways, fans of Kalugin/Karfagen won't be disappointed! A beautiful work, again.

Matti | 4/5 |

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