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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The debut album from this Ukranian group led by Antony Kalugin is mainly instrumental. The band is being championed by Will at Caerllysi Music, who is a fine judge of good prog music.

The two part "A Winter's Tale" starts off slowly with a gentle synth riff and birdsong, before the drums lead you into the main part of song. Part two starts off with a slightly naff-sounding keyboard riff but soon picks up the pace. An excellent guitar solo is the highlight of this number.

"Silent Anger" starts off as a medieval-sounding number, then changes with the introduction of piano and accordion. This song later features the first (wordless) vocal of the album. "All the time I think about you" is a short solo piano piece, perhaps a tad too Richard Clayderman. "Amused Fair" is the longest track and one of the best, straying into jazzy territory with some nice guitar work. "Marvelous Dance" (sic) is probably the best track here, with an excellent piano riff. It also shows their spelling could do with a bit of work. "Muse" is a nice jazzy guitar piece, which leads us into the only real vocal track - the bonus track "Close To Heaven". This is a slow number, a duet between male and female vocalists.

The album as a whole does betray Antony's new age background , as this album treads the line between prog and new age, occasionally putting a foot over the line but just when you think it's all getting a bit like lift music, they throw in an interesting keyboard riff or guitar solo to maintain the interest. The drum sound, particularly the snare, could do with a bit more of a natural rather than electronic sound as it does not help the new age comparisons but overall a good solid three star debut, recommended for fans of instrumental prog, and I am expecting even better things from them.

Report this review (#85492)
Posted Wednesday, August 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A new progressive band from Ukraine that should have your full attention for the shear beauty of this their first album. Filled with awesome keyboards and a bunch of strange instruments.

I first heard of Karfagen through my dear friend Will of Caerllysi Music. "Continium" is a very powerful release filled to the brim with keyboards, strange instruments used with great power, to make it an even stronger release. And makes it very different from other releases I've heard in a long time***

"Continium" is mostly an instrumental album, with only few vocals added. It's a very dreamy, catching, melodic release, that have all the power and ingredients "lovers" of instrumental progressive music should track down (NOW). Not many Ukraine bands we get to know these days. "Continium" holds 10 tracks clocking in at 42 min. I read somewhere that this was an ambient, new age release. But to me, there is more to than that. It holds to many breaks, passages and melodic themes to be considered (only) an ambient release, to me. The use of flute, accordian, harmonica and some great female sounding vocals, in the interplay makes it kind of unique. Not many of those ingredients in an ambient sounding album. Also the use of acoustic/electric guitar (though no one credited?? Is it actually keyboards sounding like guitars?), makes it "not ambient" to me. Sure it holds some great moments that makes your close your eyes, relax a little and fell really good. But the main thing here is the use of fat sounding keyboards, organs, written and performed with great skills. Alongside some powerful and beautiful (grand) piano parts. In fact 4 out of the 10 tracks starts out with some outstanding(grand) piano parts, which I simply loves and adores so much***

The final track, which is a bonus track" Close To Heaven", is exactly how I fell about "Continium". "Close To Heaven" is a mix between a fantastic female vocalist, acoustic guitar, cello (sound) and Anthony's deep voice. Very emotional and amazing. So to sum "Continium" up, I think it's a really great and "liberating" release because they sound like so many progressive bands we all know and yet they sound like no others!?! Make sense? I guess not, but I promise you one thing; You will not regret getting this album nor find many bands that have the same "fell" to their music as Karfagen. This is a mix between my beloved Camel, my beloved Sebastian Hardie. And I think a touch of Floyd added in somewhere. The great musicians on "Continium"; Anthony Kalugin, keyboards-sampler-percussion and vocals. Oleg Polyanskjy, piano, keyboards and organ. Sergei Kovalev, bass. Kostya Shepelenko, drums. The cover art work fits the music perfect, amazing and beautiful. Thanks to Will, of Caerlyssi Music fame, for sending it.

Report this review (#93761)
Posted Sunday, October 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars Fellow collaborator Eugne just told me how hard it is get their CD's in their own country, that's a pity because this band deserves more attention! Two members of Karfagen are playing keyboards, they deliver a wonderful sound: very lush with great samples like tin- whistle, accordion and in some tracks the unsurpassed Mellotron (violin, flute and the majestic choir-section). The 10 compositions sound melodic and harmonic featuring surprising musical ideas like a piece with romantic piano (All The Time I Think About You), a dreamy song with jazzy guitar (Muse) and a track with piano and cello (Close To Heaven). Other compositions are in the symphonic prog tradition with lots of variety, strong build- ups and great 'grand finales', layered with strong soli on keyboards and guitar. My only problem concerns the drum work, in my opinion at some moments too tight and monotone. But this does not really harm the pleasant, varied and fresh sounding prog by Karfagen, recommended to the keyboard aficionados.

Report this review (#93856)
Posted Monday, October 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well,I was going to rate it higher than it should be rated, because this is the FIRST PROG CD from my country I ever owned! But they do really worth this 5 stars!!!

Opening "Winter Tale" is a bit cold (just look at the name) and atmospheric.Kinda ALAN PARSONS meets ARENA sometimes.I thought "OK, solid 4-star stuff".But the very following track in 5/8 entitled "Silent Anger" just blew my mind!!! Great melodical basis, excellent musicianship (counting conditions in what this allwas recorded!) and mellow mild sound of their own - KARFAGEN's style is pretty hard to describe, it sounds as if classical CAMEL became a bit spacy... The best tracks here are "Old Legends", "Amused Fair" epic (with haunting female vocals in the middle) and "Marvelous Dance", but also other tracks worth mentioning: romantic piano-only "All the Time...", oriental "Stone Talk" and mysterious "Muse". The closing song with vocals "Close to Heaven" is a bit cheesy but it's a good ending.Impatiently waiting for another release - hope this time it will have better recording quality, but even not, I'll buy it!

Highly recommended!!!

Report this review (#100749)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Impressive on paper but not completely fulfilling instrumental album that could be called new age influenced (not that there's anything wrong with that.) I can enjoy this at times when I want some background music but it's not interesting enough to me to hold my interest for active listening. Oldfield has an album in this territory called Songs of Distant Earth. I haven't heard that for a while but I seem to remember it sounding a little like this.

There are some very nice moments throughout this album. Some beautiful piano passages, flutes, even some moderately fiery Camelish electric solos. But rarely does it move me or take me to any special place. The musical ideas are just a bit too subtle, the percussion a little pedestrian, the vocals (where they occur) without any real obvious spark. If you like this you should definitely check out the French band XII Alfonso who cover similar territory and do it better in my opinion. The cover and booklet art are spectacular though minimal.

I think it's a good debut album from Unicorn Records that shows much potential and I look forward to hearing a more fully realized package from Karfagen down the road. Good but far from essential.

Report this review (#137350)
Posted Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ukraine-based band KARFAGEN is a somewhat personal bet of young composer/keyboardist Antony Kalugin,who founded this project in 1997 (at the age of 16!),being himself a student at school.Before the turn of the millenium he started writing material for the first KARFAGEN album and actually the band played a few gigs as well,before they were put on ice with Kalugin following a personal career,mostly composing and participating on new-age albums.By mid- 00's Antony had been a self-employed musician,so he gave birth to his former band and recorded the long-awaited KARFAGEN debut in 2005 on the Canadian Unicorn Records.

His work can be easily compared to these of MIKE OLDFIELD,GANDALF and CAMEL if you add some more passion and energy to the compositions.Having next to him his fellow keyboardist Sergei Kovalev,Kalugin explores and unites the paths of Symphonic Rock,New Age and Electronic in a very adventuruous and highly attractive package.Lots of spacey floating electronics dominate the album along with pianos and some great organ parts,which give the album a grandiose symphonic taste,while the succesful addition of limited parts with cellos,harmonica,flutes and bagpipes give the album a folkier and almost oriental touch in parts.Among those sometimes bombastic themes weird effects (water,birds etc.) are added in order to calm a bit down the dynamics.Electric guitars are much carefully used with a main aim to rise up the energy and nerve of the music between the keyboard-based parts,sometimes also in a jazzy mood.I could say that most of the tracks contain from even a bit to a higher range of Kalugin's classical training,especially on the piano parts...and one more thing:Do not expect the music to be overall sweet and atmospheric.In ''Continium'' KARFAGEN offer a fair amount of complex ELP-ish breaks to make it even more attractive and challenging.

The final taste is more than positive.Intricate,balanced,adventuruous and marvelously arranged,''Continium'' was worth waiting and Kalugin made no mistake on insisting on this band's future.An excellent addition to your collection,especially if you are a fan both of Symphonic and keyboard-driven Progressive Rock.

Report this review (#277678)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars Karfagen is the name of the project that was first started in 1997 by Antony Kalugin whilst studying at architectural college in the Ukraine. He formed a band that played a few gigs but they soon fell apart with only Sergei Kovalev remaining with Antony. In 2002 Antony released a solo album and over the new few years either composed or performed on more than 40 albums which gave him the impetus to get back into the studio himself and the result is 'Continium'. This is mostly an instrumental album, with both Antony and Ikeg Polyanskiy providing keyboards and Koysta Shepelenko on drums, Sergei on accordion and then various guests providing bass, guitars etc.

This is a very dynamic album, obviously very keyboard oriented, which as well as hints of Camel also contains many folk influences. There are strange woodwind sounds to be heard, and the music is very heavily arranged with instruments moving in and out of the melody. If one was to guess which country the music originated from one would probably guess Eastern Europe, just from some of the nuances and touches, but that certainly isn't overpowering and the result is a well constructed instrumental album that at times has more than a hint of Karda Estra about it as well as some strong brass.

Report this review (#906889)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Continium. Great beginning of an interesting story. This year, 2019, Karfagen has released their 10th effort. 'Continium' has really powerful classy tracks that most of the prog rock fans will enjoy for sure. It starts from 2 parts of 'a Winter Tale'. I saw both this parts live a few times now and can say they are Karfagen classics, always interesting to listen to. Leading Motif from this tracks are on the Sunchild's 'invisible line', bits of it on 'the Wrap' and I think on some more albums , it's like a sort of Antony's message - guiding line. Silent Anger is tasty 5/4 instrumental with knob accordion and lovely chord structure. Mariana Sobol did some cool vocalizing in the apogee of it. 'Old Legend' another, so to say, 'playing art rock ' piece. It has some nice vintage organ sound (Yamaha yc-45d) performed by Oleg Polyanskiy. Piano and guitar 'vivace' riffs and passages, mellotron. Interesting middle section. 'Amused Fair' is the first Karfagen officially released epic. Nice piano based intro with upbeat and uplifting mood. Gentle vocalizing by Tim Sobolev, who has appeared on a few more Antony's projects. (Sunchild 'the Gnomon ' latest Karfagen 'Dragon Island suite' and on 'the Space Between Us'). Mellotron flute solo is like an ice on a cake, love it. 'Marvelous Dance' is the track that Antony fairly thinks is one of his best compositions. I do agree it's so well structured. It's only 3 and a half mins but it's says all. 'Close to Heaven ' is a bonus track that is like a hit acoustic ballad, I think it logically led to the Sunchild, more vocal oriented music. Absolutely great album. Maybe the sound production of it is not so balanced and well crafted like Antony has on his latest works.. but it's ok to me. It's a great start of a band with big potential.
Report this review (#2169372)
Posted Friday, March 29, 2019 | Review Permalink

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