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Karfagen - Solitary Sandpiper Journey CD (album) cover



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3 stars Prog fans may certainly be forgiven if they feel like they need a scorecard to keep up with the various projects of ANTONY KALUGIN. Sunchild is the 2008 double CD project in which he recruited various Ukrainian musicians. And Kalugin is an intregal contributor to Will Mackie's band Hoggwash. Despite how important those ongoing projects are to him, KARFAGEN is Kalugin's "flagship" Progressive Rock Band, the one he instituted and has been working with ever since deciding to pursue a music career back in 1994.

For 2010's " SOLITARY SANDPIPER JOURNEY", Kalugin recruited tasteful guitarist ALEXANDR PAVLOV and ethereal vocalist MARINA ZACHAROVA.

This music includes various textures ranging from cello, oboe, bassoon, flute, violin, viola and even accordion. Throughout the project, the aesthetic is smooth and beautiful. Think Pink Floyd's "Division Bell" and Camel's "Snow Goose".

The album begins with "Spirit of Revelation", a very tastefully and tunefully performed guitar oriented catchy, even downright hum-able tune. Musicianship is flawlessly executed. One curiosity, however, is the subtle integration of a certain hand-clap sound that I'm most familiar hearing only within the context of disco songs. Of course, this music has nothing to do with disco - except those oddball little handclaps. At first I was a bit "put off" by them, but now I'm warming up to them if for no other reason than their oddball quirky appearance out of nowhere. Right when I was beginning to think I had "heard it all"?;-)

Magic Moment begins with acoustic piano. We hear our first leave vocal from Marina. Her voice is sweet, strong and Celtic. Silent Anger (part two) is our next extended instrumental piece followed by "Searching for Love", another vocal tune this time with Antony on lead vocals. Marina is an excellent choice for vocalist. Her voice blends and fills the spectrum very well on the passages in which both of them sing in harmony. The addition of accordion is very nice on this song. The saxophone and free dancing bass lines have a very smooth texture. Nothing is rough around the edges on this music. Envelope filters abound! This song ends with a pensive and moody (yet ever so smooth!) solo saxophone.

Carpathians is a keyboard led song that sound like it would be right at home on a Hoggwash album.

Ode to a New Life begins with a very bouncy intro and clean guitar. We are provided a strong melodic statement from electric guitar, reminiscent of the albums opening track. Synthesizer takes the melody for the next round. Bass guitar gets a moment in the spotlight before handing off for the synthesizer to break free from the melody with a bit of improvisation, (yet always remaining very close to the stated melody). Synthesizer and guitar play a harmony lead section together before breaking down in the middle for an excellent acoustic guitar solo section in the middle. Wow - I wish he did more acoustic sections like this on the album. Perhaps on the next KARFAGEN album? Keys take over followed by electric guitar. A symphonic string section enters for the fade out of electric guitar at the end.

Kingfisher and Dragonflies flows into Mysteries to create a 24 minute extended duet. Instrumental passages dominate. During the brief passages in which they sing together, Marina's vocals blend with Antony's very nicely again.

A very solid 3 stars for this high quality album. There are more than enough magic moments to go around indeed!

Report this review (#282133)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My opinion on KARFAGEN "Solitary Sandpiper Journey" is that in some moments I felt a strong influence of THE FLOWER KING'S, above all in the keyboard timbres (with melotrons/vocorders use making the harmony) and also in the guitar solos, besides the form of combining the musical passages inside of the compositions. Actually it is big the amount of musical styles that one can find in this disk that mixes FOLK, SYMPHONIC, CLASSIC, RENASCENTISTA and something of JAZZ, forming in certain moments very complex themes. Besides the already mentioned influence above there is other with less evidence, just as JETHrO TULL, CAMEL, GREENSLADE, FOCUS and GRYPHON.

The track 1 "Spirit of Revelation" is fully of "good vibrations" and seems to me a theme which could be used in a soundtrack from childish adventure movies, a very happy melodie and full of variations. The track 2 "Magic Moment" are more bucolic and the absolute detach comes to the charming voice from Marina Zacharova . The track 3 "Silent Anger (part 2)" is a splitting from the previous track and at this time the detach are the great intrumental arrangement. Is very difficult to me says "that track is fairly superior in relationship to another". If you are fan of symphonic prog, you cannot let know this albun. My rate is 5 stars !!!

Report this review (#286293)
Posted Sunday, June 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars KARFAGEN is one of the three-band projects featuring Ukrainian composer and keyboardist Antony Kalugin as a central member. In between his productions with his other bands Sunchild and Hoggwash he's managed to release four albums with Karfagen since he made his debut as a recording artist back in 2006. "Solitary Sandpiper Journey" is the most recent of these and was released in 2010.

If you enjoy symphonic progressive rock and have a soft spot for the 70's version of the genre in general and bands like Camel in particular, Karafgen is a band you will most likely want to explore. Their take on this style is more eclectic than Latimer's, including frequent jazz rock and a select few purebred jazz sequences for starters, and the symphonic scope of their repertoire does cover a lot more ground too. The mood, atmosphere and feel of the compositions are more closely linked in, however, which is why I estimate that particular crowd to be something of a key audience.

Report this review (#503060)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars An outstanding symphonic art rock. Must have for all fans of Camel, Greenslade, Gryphon & Renaissance. I am really surprised to hear in nowdays "computer driven" music such variety of acoustic symhonic instruments. Strings section, oboe, basson, flute & Sax. I remember this feeling, when i first time heard Gryphon with it dainty basson and folk atmosphere... It was really something!! Something that i`ve being missing for a long time. But what a surprise - Karfagen brings back this feeling. Vintage warmth of Antonys keyboards and picturesque kaleidoscope of Alexandrs guitars. Just listen to a gorgeos "Mystery" it says all.. Special mention deserves the artwork - like in 70`s LP - well done. Highly recomended symphonic delicacy.
Report this review (#889906)
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Karfagen from Ukraine is one of the best and most intresting bands I've ever heared in last years. Formed in 2002 by the prolific musician Antony Kalugin, Karfagen soon turned to be a real force in prog rock world, with 6 albums released so far. Solitary sandpiper journey from 2010 is a real gem of an album, here we have every ingredients to be a fairly solid and damn catchy album from first note to last. Antony Kalugin is a competend musician who really knew to compose an unforgetable release to my ears and I was very very pleasent surprised by this band when I've discovered them some years back through another bands where Antony Kalugin was involved Hoggwash and Sunchild. Karfagen music is quite complex with many instrumental passages going from symphonic prog with celtic elements thrown in to eclectic parts to jazzy interplayes and folky arranements all wraped in superb final product. Here we have lots of invited musicians, I guess around 20 , each one bringing a special mark to the album. Violins, cello, flute combined with traditional instruments, the result is impressive. Very good the vocal parts, while are not many, are very strong, Marina Zacharova is a very fine and smooth vocalist who fiting here like a glove in the music. All pieces are strong , no weak moments here, captivating instrumental sections, very original and intresting that only few bands are capable to offer in last years. For example ending track Mystery clocking around 23 min is killer, not else, Antony Kalugin is a genius and one important musicin in prog rock world in last years. The atmosphere and overall mood is brilliant.To me 4 stars easy and recommended, truly excellent album, from excellent art work to the music this is a gem.
Report this review (#946801)
Posted Saturday, April 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've just received new Deluxe 3cd edition "Sandpipers Symphony" featuring 2 Karfagen Classics 2010 - 2011 with a bonus material. And it was a good reason to return to the album I loved when it was originally released. Solitary Sandpiper Journey was a defining step in Karfagens discography that organically lead to its older "brother" Lost Symphony that was highly acclaimed by critics. I have some favs on this album: Mystery, ode to a new life, carpathians. I was so pleased to see Mystery short version performed live by the band on YouTube and than it has appeared on Bonus deluxe edition cd - really nice. Real playing art rock instrumental piece. I highly recommend to discover that album for those of you who loves latest Antony's releases - as it has so many lovely tunes and this unique palette of symphonic instruments.
Report this review (#2168863)
Posted Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | Review Permalink

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