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Karfagen - Aleatorica CD (album) cover

ALEATORICA

Karfagen

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars Aleatoric is a term that is coined by musicians/composers like Karl-Heinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez in 1957 at the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt (Hessen/Germany). It is, to tell it most easy, music that lets you hear circular themes in music in different costumes. That is what Antony Kalugin does here with his band Karfagen. My opinion is, that this has a start in the Sandpiper-album where you can also listen to a kind of conceptional continuity (FZ) but on Aleactorica it is more intensiv. You have only to regular songs on this album, and "A day without rain" is my favorite (it reminds me to "Last minute on earth from the FloKi's). but also Mad dogs of destiny has high quality ? listen to the words listener! This album is coherent and has brilliant ideas of the composer and the band. Karfagen is build of most musicians from "Sunchild" and some of the songs are written by and with Sergii Kovalov (I think, he can play each instrument, but I only know by 7 of them). This album is made in the time of nearly 4 years and I think, they waiting is recompended. For everyone who likes conceptual records and new ideas in prog/rock music ? I advise this album to buy! Thankx Antony and Karfagen for the music!

Report this review (#891013)
Posted Friday, January 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Karfagen is a Ukrainian symphonic rock band which mostly seems to perform instrumental music. It is made up by the composer Antony Kalugin and one this record from 2013 a lot of other musicians too. Together they play a wonderful world of songs and melodies, played on a lot of symphonic instrument with not so little inspiration from folk music.

When this record was released last year I noticed it got good ratings but noone reviewed it and the music was hard to find. This summer I went to Ukraine, I came home today and I found the music a week before I went away to the east. I loved Ukraine, its culture and a romantic undestroyed touch in the society. This music perhaps takes inspiration from all of that, and of course the whole world of progressive rock.

The record is a unit of well composed musical material which is performed on various instruments and shows different aspects of life. A few songs have lyrics and they are good, but not what's making the album special. My favourite tracks are the first: "Aleatorica"(10/10) which gives a little of everything, "D'Ale" where I guess I hear bag pipes in a mediaval harmony(10/10) and "Whirlabout" which is amongst the album's most glamorous and symphonic(10/10). Almost as good are "Gnome in a bathroom"(9/10) and "Solar cydes"(9/10), also medieval. I wouldn't say that any song here lacks interest and they become as their best if you listen to them together.

I look forward to hear more from Karfagen, they seem to have made an album even this year 2014. I also like the cover of "Aleatorica" with a lot of pictures, which aren't very symphonic but quite pretty. Aleatorica is a fine 4/5 record which I recommend!

Report this review (#1206268)
Posted Sunday, July 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Each album Karfagen released by far tells its own, brand new story. Perhaps that's why the discography of this Ukrainian symphonic prog band is so diverse, and always surprising. In this respect, Aleatorica has been rather under-discussed so far, despite marking yet another experimental venture in Karfagen's styles and influences. Do not expect this album to take itself too seriously. Located somewhere between fantasy-Middle Ages-Balkan-like folk, a jazz jam session, and a prog record, Aleatorica is primarily playful, just like its cover art anticipates: full of (musical) color, bright, all-over-the-place. It's clear that the band had fun making this one. Which is perhaps why I am having such fun listening to it as well, even if not all tracks are of equal quality.

The album opens with "Aleatorica (Shuffler's Riddle)", a distinctly folk-prog piece with a catchy melody, and a carnivalesque atmosphere only tastefully disturbed with occasional strange harmonies and cacophonies. The following "Mad Gods of Destiny" continues the folk atmosphere with additional ethnic instrumentation. The vocals (rare for this band!) are executed well, creating a good blend with the backing vocals of other involved musicians (perhaps Olga Koganyuk's voice comes most to the forefront here) and as always, flawless instrumental arrangements. "Shadoof" is a brief string intermezzo, where playful atmosphere turns into nostalgia. It is a much- needed break, which allows to continue listening to the rest of folkish tracks without it becoming excessive. "D'Ale" impresses with its layering of instrumentation on a similar melody with changing pitches which ultimately creates a nearly hypnotic, danceable folk tune. "Gnome in the Bathroom" is rather simple and entertaining, but "Solar Cycles" right after it satisfies the craving for a more experimental, unique blend of a folkish beginning, a following high energy, jazzy tune, and even some electric guitar plus spacey keys towards the end. "Transaleatorica" is a less somber predecessor of "Transaleatorica 2" (from Spektra). While I prefer "Transaleatorica 2", both represent a special, unsettling feeling that's not easy to shake off (sublime?), and weave together two distinct phases in Karfagen's composition.

It is from here on that Aleatorica truly peaks, in my opinion. "Mystic Castles", the longest piece on the album has a consistent build-up, sounding nearly like a peculiar jam session: one that started off with folk, went through more prog influences, towards pure jazz. This track represents the journey of this album in one piece. Personally, I'd recommend anyone to start from this one to check if the rest of the album may be of appeal too. "Radio Beam" is a strange little intermezzo, a simple jingle of which role I am not sure. However, the following "Whirlabout" marks the second peak of Aleatorica, its spirit similar to that of "Mystic Castles". There is an enjoyable nod back at the melody of the opening track in there too, the element firmly pointing to the album being a coherent whole despite its multitude of ventures. "Sweetmeat" is another folk tune, which unfortunately falls a bit flat after the previous two great jams. Perhaps it could do better earlier on in the album. Or perhaps the album's climax has passed, and this is one of the symptoms of building down for a resolve. "A Day Without Rain" tells a dystopian/utopian (?) tale, with another rare occurrence of vocals. This kind of ballad is not necessarily fitting among the rest of the album's tracks, but the break from folk is well appreciated after "Sweetmeat". "Amazing Ananda" feels like a strange piano-centric intermezzo despite being longer than "Radio Beam" and "Shadoof". Finally, "Aleatorica (Back to the Alea)" together with the first "Aleatorica" frames the album with tongue-in ?the cheek modern folk, blending traditional and acoustic instruments with synths and even an electric guitar). This last piece is full of energy, unexpected, and forms a strong, abrupt outro which urges to replay the album once more, from the beginning.

Aleatorica is a lot to process. It is not Karfagen's best release, with a few tracks falling short of brilliant, but nevertheless, the artistic statement it makes is pretty strong. All in all, this is the kind of playful experimentation I signed up for. 4/5 stars.

Report this review (#2261875)
Posted Monday, September 16, 2019 | Review Permalink

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