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Karda Estra - Alternate History  CD (album) cover

ALTERNATE HISTORY

Karda Estra

 

Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 10 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Early career overview of a unique artist

Karda Estra is the ongoing project of composer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Wileman. "Alternate History" is a compilation of material from the period of his debut in 1998 til the time of this release in 2004. One or two tracks are chosen from each of albums from this period. He has released several additional albums since and continues to amaze fans of experimental symphonic progressive.

I would describe Karda's music as modern classical music with a reflective attitude and gothic overtones. Sometimes the mood is a bit gloomy, melancholic, other times more uplifting, but always beautiful. It is relaxing and soothing music which evolves slowly and entices the listener into a bit of a dream state. Wileman plays electric and acoustic guitar, bass, piano, and percussion himself. He is joined by various collaborators who contribute tasteful performances on strings, brass, and woodwind instruments. Several tracks feature lovely choral vocals from Ileesha Bailey. My favorite track comes from the debut album "A Winter in Summertime" and is called "From Deep Sleep." Apparently this was the first conceived Karda Estra track and in my review of that album I describe it as "a collage of strange sounds, odd noises like the cobwebs of dreams, soon joined by a pulsing voice. Right away the style reminded me of Industrial music, with looping machine-like noises although the sounds you hear will be more pleasant and not obnoxious....blends of keyboards, vocal bursts, effects, and atmosphere to the rafters. And a bell ringing somewhere in the dark."

The track "Avatar" is an unreleased goodie available only here and on another compilation. It's an experiment with fuzz bass and percussion loops backing angelic vocals and strange sounding keys, a bit more upbeat than the others. The closer is a cover of "Twice Around the Sun" by Steve Hackett, who is a large influence on Mr. Wileman. Completely gorgeous and enticing, it is a fitting tribute. This is a great sampler introduction to the work of Karda Estra, a project that is both mellow and pretty, yet exquisitely arranged and performed so as to always remains interesting listening. The booklet is very short but contains a few notes on each of the songs.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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