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Karfagen - Magician's Theater CD (album) cover

MAGICIAN'S THEATER

Karfagen

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars The new "Symphorock Adventure" AKP heralds another instrumental masterpiece from the musical king from the east.

Two dynamically contrasting lead guitarists light the flames for the famous Kalugin keyboard sounds, add some brutal bass and drum sounds, gorgeous sax and flute and he has created the recipe for one hell of a fireball and an instrumental storm, musically its game on and Kalugin delivers majestically.

As ever with Kalugin, immense thought and detail goes into each album, "magicians " itself taking several years to complete. I first heard most of the tracks in the famous Kalugin demo format some 18 months ago and I am so excited that finally i can share this joy with you.

It's a musical fairytale played out within the mind with some of the most inventive, powerful and expressive tracks I have had the good fortune to be involved with, the as ice quality production creates a fitting atmosphere and platform which takes the listener on an exhilarating journey, satisfying even the most challenging of music minds, all of AKP music can be enjoyed on so many levels and are like an Aladdin's cave of melody and track composition.

Its a "Symphorock Adventure" which will give you so much enjoyment. I know you will continue to press that repeat button on your CD player - its Kalugin's finest statement yet and that's a huge endorsement in itself, enjoy folks - the hottest symphorock of 2014

Will - Caerllysi Music

Report this review (#1178492)
Posted Friday, May 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars For prog listeners that adore vintage symphonic prog, there's not many other artists working in progressive music today that so strongly capture that particular style in a modern setting as convincingly as main Karfagen composer Antony Kalugin. He delivered a career best work with the lush and lavish `Lost Symphony' back in 2011, and `Magician's Theater' offers more of the same, just with an increase in heavy guitars this time around. Predominantly an instrumental work, it's fifty seven minutes of the bombast and classical flare of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Triumvirat, the romantic guitar moods of Camel and even the quirky qualities of the early Steve Hackett solo albums, but with added Ayreon-styled heavy guitar bite. Anthony handles all the keyboards (and make no mistake, this is a very keyboard-dominated album!), with additional musical guests brought in to bring a more full and rich satisfying sound.

All of the ten tracks flow into each-other, creating a varied and continuous musical adventure. The title track overture opens the first Act of the album with booming and dramatic E.L.P synth fanfares full of regal pomp and crashing stomp, a nice plodding groove and roaring electric guitar powering it forwards. Dream Theater fans will like the driving guitar soloing over wavering synth caresses throughout `The Birth of Mankind', with plenty of dreamier relaxing moments to balance it out too. `Turret' is a pretty synth, flute and classical guitar interlude full of mystery, then `Yuletide' throws in everything from Jethro Tull-like flute over rambunctious folk guitar, an upbeat repeated synth theme and even brief Celtic flavours, really foot-tapping stuff! `Figment of the Imagination part 1' is a short regal synth theme, and the amusingly titled `The Fibber's Diary' lurches along as a heavy crashing fanfare that's actually almost comical in a few spots, before the wild heavy metal attack of `The Juggler's Boast' closes the first half.

The second Act begins with the stirring and gently melancholic `Figment of the Imagination part 2', with gorgeous flute and choir Mellotrons singing together over electric piano and acoustic guitar. Then what would a symphonic prog album be without a twenty one minute epic?! It's a tour de force for Kalugin, as he unleashes all manner of symphonic synths, creaking grand organ and whirring Moogs galore. It takes Karfagen's music to new levels of sophistication and daring, with fleeting sedate classical guitar tastefulness, brief electronic diversions, brooding moody guitars, maddening spoken word passages, reflective thoughtful breaks, triumphant medieval fanfares, and even some whimsical Steve Hackett child's toy-like percussion sound-collages. Be sure to listen out for the nice introduction where accordion duets with menacing gothic Mellotron, and the heartfelt then joyful saxophone solo in the climax over delicate piano and chiming guitar. The album then finishes on a gutsier heavy guitar reprise of the opening piece.

Sadly, the only particular element holding the music back here a little that stops it achieving constant greatness - the frequent heavy wailing electric guitars. If you're a listener who loves plenty of soloing hard-rock guitars, or are a fan of the above mention Ayreon project, then this won't be an issue. But for others, it can get a little draining in several spots.

But there's still no denying that Antony Kalugin is a musician of great talent and variety (fans of this project should also investigate his solo album `The Water' from 2002 and his project the `Anthony Kalugin Kinematic Orchestra' from 2013 for a different side of the artist), and each new Karfagen release hones his vision of fantastical and colourful progressive music even further. `Magician's Theater' is a true love letter to symphonic progressive music, jammed full of memorable themes, performed with so much confidence and conviction, and it's yet another Karfagen album well worth discovering. Antony and his musical associates here should be immensely proud of their efforts!

Four stars.

Report this review (#1344276)
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars The reason why I chose to listen to and review this album was I really liked the previous album "Aleatorica" from 2013 and also that I was so amazed that this was a Ukrainian band. I actually visited Ukraine with my brothers this summer(Lviv and Kyiv). Unfortunately "Magician's Theater" doesn't manage to be as beautiful as "Aleatorica". The only thing that is better with 2014's album is the colourful cover which is appealing with all of its childish loveliness. It is a quite long album Antony Kalugin(keyboard, vocals, percussion,arrangement)and his partners have done. It lasts almost an hour and has nine normal length tracks and one long.

The last record was unique and special in my ears but these songs shine out just mainstream prog. I find it too heavy. The drums are beating and a lot of symphonic attempts are shown here and there. I though find it hard to feel the continuity within the tracks and the album. Over all, I find it rather pleasant to hear but not interesting and it definitely not gives my anything new. The shortest songs are also the best. "Turret"(8/10) is a lovely piece with medieval feeling and "Figment of the imagination 2"(6/10) are sweet too. A lot of songs are nice and works well but the "epic"(relating to its length""Magician's spell" are not coherent. It feels fragmented and a lot of ideas has been put together to perhaps create a long and impressive track. I wouldn't call it impressive though even if the instrumentalists are talanted(6/10).

My song to song rating ends at 2.85 which becomes three stars so it is fine music it is a big oppurtunity you like. I though am quite disappointed beacause I liked "Aleatorica" so much.

Report this review (#1373919)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Karfagen - this excellent band that for some good years is a name in prog rock circles, conducted by no other then Antony Kalugin - the head master behind the band, responsable for all the music is to be heared here as on previous albums. Magician's theater is the name of the game here, and is a truly great work in same league with Solitary sandpiper journey and Lost symphony (their most acomplished works so far, at least for me). Graced by another excellent art work, as all presentation, Karfagen done it again, musicaly speaking this is awesome, lots of twists and turns, musical mystical adventure is all I can saying about this release. Fans of vintage prog, will love this one as previouses releases , lot to offer and Antony Kalugin is a name to remember and a true talented musician in prog circles and is respected all over the world with each band where is he involved as Sunchild or Hoggwash for example. Each piece is great, maybe with a plus on ending giant tune Magician's Spell , clocking around 22 min, this is pure pleasure and delight, here is happening lots of memorable instrumental passages and all is magic. Symphonic prog complexity with acustic guitars, folky parts, all is here at highest level . So, all in all Magician's theater is another worthy album in Karfagen discography and this band is among the best and most intresting ones listner ever experince in prog rock realm. 4 stars for sure.
Report this review (#1553646)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | Review Permalink

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