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Karfagen - Birds of Passage CD (album) cover

BIRDS OF PASSAGE

Karfagen

Symphonic Prog


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TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars After releasing the acclaimed album 'Echoes from Within Dragon Island' last year, Karfagen was quick to release their 11th full length studio album in January of 2020 called 'Birds of Passage'. Their 'Dragon Island' album was well-loved by many reviewers here in the Archives, and many are excited to hear this new album. So the question is, does it live up to the previous album?

Karfagen was conceived by Antony Kalugin in 1997 and even now he continues to head this project performing most of the instruments on the album. However, he has continued to recruit many regulars who have become part of the band line-up over the years. On this album, Antony performs on keyboards, vocals, percussion, penny flute, and does arranging and programming of the tracks. Joining him are Mathieu Spaeter on electric guitars, Konstantin Ionenko on bass, Viktor Syrotin on drums, Tim Soloblev on vocals, Olha Rostovska on vocals, Aleksandr Pavlov on nylon guitar, Alexandr Pastuchov on bassoon, Maria Baranovska on violin, and Elena Kushiy on flute.

The album consists on a single suite called 'Birds of Passage' in 2 parts. Each part is in turn divided up into several sub- sections, in the same way that their previous master work was organized. The sound of this suite is much the same style as 'Dragon Island' suite from last year; complex, symphonic prog with a lot of nice textures among the instrumental and vocal sections. There does seem to be a bit more dissonance on this particular suite, but that also goes hand in hand with the sections that show more intensity. Also, as in the previous album, there is a nice mix of folk sounds and instrumentation and everything flows together wonderfully.

Each part of the suite is over 20 minutes in length, and, as expected from Karfagen, the themes and sections are all well developed. The music flows well and there is a nice balance between the instruments and the dynamics of the music is superb. The overall vibe is quite bright and positive even though the overall thematic element deals with the natural world and using symbolism from that to portray a very neo-prog element of the fight between good and evil. That neo-prog element lies mostly in the theme as the music itself is much more similar to the dynamic of symphonic prog. Each instrument is clear and polished with many keyboard and guitar interaction with nice vocals that utilize both male and female singing and harmonization.

The poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (in part 1) and William Blake (in part 2) is used in the suite. The poetry makes up most of the lyrical content of these parts of the suite, and the additional lyric is composed by Antony. All of the lyrics are sung, and the placement of the words into song has been done quite well, and is probably one of the most impressive things about Karfagen's music. One would almost expect the sound to be a bit choppy between the extended instrumental sections and the lyrical sections, but everything flows seamlessly. This is the main thing that makes me come back to the band's music, the fact that the poetry can be so beautifully integrated into a suite. Everything else just flows along with this, and the more complex compositional parts of the suites start to become more apparent with continued listening. This makes this music more likeable, even from the first listen. The first part of the suite is much more lyric heavy, while the 2nd part concentrates more on longer instrumental sections.

Also similar to the previous album, there are other tracks that are 'supplemental' to the main suite, but in this case they are considered all bonus tracks, and there are only 3 of them. 'Spring (Birds Delight)' is a shorter work also based on a Blake poem 'Spring'. This one has a catchy sound and also has some scat going on that almost sounds tribal, and this sound mixes well with the other influences that are usually at work in the band's music. 'Sunrise' is a nice, pastoral and peaceful instrumental mostly featuring some lovely flute backed by atmospheric synths and percussion. 'Birds (short introduction)' is not available on the CD release. It is another short instrumental that does sound like an introduction to something, but this closes the album.

Overall, the suite is the best thing about the album and the other tracks are just okay, but they only make up a small part of the overall picture. The band continues to work off its strengths, most of which are in Kalugin's compositional skills. The album seems almost like a continuation of last year's 'Dragon Island' and not really a progression of it, per se. However, it is still quite excellent. If I was to choose, I would definitely place 'Dragon Island' the better of the two, but that's not saying that this album is not worthwhile. The only thing I would have hoped for in this album was something that made it stand out more on its own from the previous album. However, it is still a great sound and lovers of 2019's album will probably enjoy it just as much. 4 stars.

Report this review (#2304457)
Posted Saturday, January 4, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is the album that deserve to be heard for sure! Antony told me that it`ll be special but I didn`t even realize how much! From the very beginning it`s like a bit of fresh air. Of course the artwork is fabulous , like always and i`ll agree, this time it`s even "warmer" , you may think about "Alice in Wonderland" looking on it and it`s true - it`s really magical album, that has powerful, melodic main theme... "This Time, This Place"... So catchy! I don`t think you should compare this album to the "Echoes from within Dragon Island" - they are two different stories. With "Birds of Passage" Antony and his team did an album worth of being released on Vinyl - No "long" passages and fillers... Two Parts of Suite , like a 2 sides of a Vinyl.. How I wish they can bring it on a Vinyl one day... This Time , Antonys good friend Mathieu Speater has recorded guitars and they are awsome. Don`t get me wrong, I`m a huge fan of Max Velychko guitars ,but Mat did his job as good as he did on " Magicians Theater" in 2014. What a gorgeous Nylon guitar by Alex Pavlov in the beginning of the second part - breath taking - fantastic sound without any doubts! I like the format of LP where there`s no place for some sound filler that just ruins the conception of the "Message". What an emotional ending of both parts.. Wow.. "Camel", "Manfred Mann" in it`s best and I`ll agree with Matti, soon there`ll be the time when no comparison will needed, as Karfagen with it`s 11th! album stands bright in Symphonic Prog liague. As for bonus tracks - Lovely flute in "Sunrise" and almost Peter Gabriel - Weather Report "Birds Delight" - both tracks are pleasent to the ear and just compliment the album. 5 stars for sure!
Report this review (#2306130)
Posted Sunday, January 12, 2020 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It was only last autumn I truly found the bands of composer, keyboardist and vocalist Antony Kalugin from Ukraine. Of the several KARFAGEN albums I've listened to this far, my favourite has become the latest, Echoes Within Dragon Island (2019) which also happened to be my introduction to this band. Now we have the brand new album at hand, and I'm very glad to declare that Birds of Passage is a prog masterpiece that goes right up there at the level, or the heels to say the least, of its predecessor. I tend to regard these two albums as a harmonic pair, basically sharing the similar melodic, easily enjoyed symphonic nature, plus both drawing the lyrics from classic English or American poetry. Last year it was Robert Louis Stevenson, now Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake. Both albums are wonderfully portioning the vocal sections into the very dynamic, instrumentally oriented symphonic prog. The obvious classic prog influences (Yes, Genesis, Camel, ELP and so on) are all absorbed and melted into the tradition-friendly and yet distinctive style of Karfagen. Maybe in time, we might as well start using Karfagen as a reference of this kind of contemporary grandiose symphonic prog, like we have used the big names such as The Flower Kings.

One thing that makes it a bit tricky to decide which album is more unquestionably perfect to me, is that Echoes -- consisting of eight tracks, when speaking of the 1-CD edition -- contains music for a double vinyl's measure, whereas Birds of Passage would make a single vinyl LP with side-filling parts of the title suite, both of approx. 21-22 minutes long and with seamlessly running subtitled sections. (Yes, there are two more tracks of roughly 5 minutes long, but it's plain to see that they are meant to be taken as "bonus tracks", just as they are marked.) This gives the Dragon Island album a headstart which is very challenging to beat. Anyway, by now I have been listening to this album round and round for multiple times -- actually more than I listened to Dragon Island at the time of reviewing -- and I'm already pretty convinced that in a year's time this album will be VERY high, probably Number One, on my 2020 prog list!

The two parts are quite equal in the rich and uplifting listening experience. The occurring main theme with Kalugin's own lyrics ("This time, this place...") appears three times (in the beginning, in the middle and in the end) in Part 1, and only once in Part Two. I'm not saying I wouldn't like it, or that any of the appearances would be totally unnecessary, but it is one of the factors I'd probably choose Part 2 as my favourite. Its first section starts instrumentally, starring at first just an acoustic guitar in the vein of Steve Hackett or Steve Howe, joined by other instruments, and the vocals enter no sooner than around the fifth minute. As I have said in my other Karfagen reviews, I sincerely like Kalugin's voice. It can be tender like Kerry Minnear's in Gentle Giant or intimate like Roger Waters at his softest, but it's not wimpy. When the music rocks harder, so does Antony's voice if necessary. But indeed it's the perfect balance between sung and instrumental moments which makes Karfagen so enjoyable. The mostly serene instrumental final sections of Part 2 are very beautiful.

Now the bonus tracks. 'Spring', based on Blake's lyrics like Part 2, pales a little after the glorious title epic, as it proceeds in a relatively restricted manner. The vocals are shared by Kalugin, Olha Rostovska and Tim Sobolev. The rhythm slightly reminds me of 'State of Mind' on the FISH debut. A nice, unspectacular track with a happy feeling. 'Sunrise' is a delicate and sensitive instrumental, comparable to peaceful IONA or CAMEL instrumentals. I like it very much for its introspective emotion. The cover painting of Igor Sokolskiy really fits the music: lovely, adventurous but mostly gentle symphonic prog to caress your ears like a favourite fairy tale from your childhood. Five stars, definitely.

Report this review (#2306435)
Posted Monday, January 13, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars In nowadays progressive rock music there's not so much positive "warmth" and vibes of the art rock we know so well from the 70's. Main part of it is too "heavy" and "angry". In this scene Karfagen is a like a "lamp lighter" in a stormy weather. Like an island a raging sea. So happy to be there and enjoy the atmosphere of so balanced and well crafted music. It's interesting fact that each year numbers of the bands that produce prog rock music are growing. Composition and sound are not so good as should be. The sound of the latest Karfagen album is balanced and well produced. This I can to all latest Antony's releases, as there was a period in 2006-2010 when it was too "experimental" in places.
Report this review (#2306498)
Posted Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a way to start the New Year - a brand new album by Karfagen! This is fantastic news and an amazing new album!

First, lets get any negative stuff out the way - I looked at the credits and saw that Max Velychko was not on guitars, as I've grown very fond of his guitar playing, but instead 2 other players are here and they do an outstanding job blending in with all the other instruments going on around them! And there is a grand assortment going on here; some very nice bassoon work, some violin, and sweet sounds from the flute. Just like an orchestra has plenty of instruments playing together, each shining in its own light but never dominating the rest, that is exactly what is happening here. Just lovely pure Prog that washes the soul with such fine melodies. Some very intricate vocal arrangements too, everyone sounding happy to be part of creating this masterpiece. And once again, we have Antony Kalugin proving once more why he's the best keyboard player that Yes never had!

Love the cover as well! Reminds me of the sort of cover so popular with Yes, Genesis (70's style), Jethro Tull, early Marillion. I love the artwork on this and I'm going to say that I think this is the best cover yet for Karfagen. But its the music that counts, and on here it truly is what real classy Prog is all about. Well done Karfagen!

Report this review (#2307057)
Posted Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars When you deal with a new album by Antony Kalugin and his bands you never know what to expect. His music is often multiform and rich of many facets.

But this time there are no big surprise, as he chose to follow a linear path and continue what he began with "Echoes from within dragon island" only one year ago. And his choice pays very well, as "Birds of passage" is really great music. Like for the previous album, the core is consisting of long suites, two of them in this case. They are named with the title of the album itself. Each one is more than 20 minute long, but they flow fluently thanks to their complexity, variety and catchiness: I would say that one of the main qualities of Antony is the capability of writing melodies you can sing in a shower even in the most complex song, and it makes of him a great prog composer.

There are two more songs to complete the album: "Spring" is a shorter piece based on a William Blake poem; "Sunrise" is an instrumental that I am fond of, with its elegiac, peaceful atmosphere, backed by a lovely flute.

In the end, I would say this new work is a shining piece of symphonic prog, characterised by an extraordinary intensity and positive vibes. As always Antony is sorrounded by skilled musicians, that are able to make the most of his compositions. A mention to the production as well: the sound is clear in each single part and the intricate interactions by instrumentation and voice are perfectly audible throughout the whole work. And again as always, the package and the cover art are very nice in every detail.

Report this review (#2308656)
Posted Thursday, January 23, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Symphonic Art Rock Pioneers Karfagen has released their 11th offering, "Birds of Passage" 01/2020... This album is phenomenal, a true genuine masterpiece by front man Antony Kalugin Keyboard wizard and composer! Here within "Birds of Passage" are 10 truly gifted musicians including Antony Kalugin, who has the ability to select the right musicians to capture the true essence of this extraordinary album. I have every album this musical entity has released and this very album is beyond anything else they have released. There are only four tracks on this album based on the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake... The musical journey this album takes you on is beyond any horizon or galaxy you could ever imagine... The first track, Birds of Passage (part 1) 22:40 is the perfect beginning of this incredible journey which starts off low and slow and emerges with a yearning anticipation that something great is about to happen, and it does! The vocal harmonies brings with it a subtle gentle giant texture that is truly unique to the sound of KARFAGEN, and then all of the sudden you are transported into a YES like atmosphere... The brilliance of the guitar and keyboards are carried through out the tune with an astounding rhythm section, with violins and flutes and nylon stringed guitar... This whole album is tantalized with the full richness of a gorgeous electric guitar a nylon stringed guitar, violins and bassoon, a rich bass and drums.... The second tune, Birds of Passage (part 2) at 21:11... Starts off with a solo nylon string guitar with the keyboards softly emerging in ever so unsuspecting and then the violin and electric guitar greets the pounding of the drums... This is an absolutely beautiful album, with so much richness that it seems almost impossible to imagine it could even exist. There are many twists and turns all along the way with captivating vocals and harmonies, with the atmosphere so inviting... Then track 3, ( 4:34) the first of 2 bonus tunes. " Spring" (Birds delight)... Well this is a delight, Antony's incredible keyboards and vocals with his wonderful backup vocals are just truly beautiful, with this upbeat tune with singing guitar and wonderful texture with that familiar Karfagen touch.. the vocals are truly amazing on this track... And the final track, #4 (5:33) "Sunrise", this may be Karfagen's most beautiful song to date, a beautiful nylon stringed guitar intro with a beautiful flute with some native american flute blended within, creates an unbelievable atmospheric mood that is enhanced by a wonderful chorus... I am covered with goosebumps just typing this as I listen... Antony's incredible keyboards are simply amazing as the song ends... You've got to get this incredible album! Thank you Anthony, you have really done it this time my friend, Thank you so very much for this incredible music! BRAVO!
Report this review (#2308891)
Posted Friday, January 24, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I'm happy to write that the inspiration keeps chasing Antony Kalugin on his way further and further. I used to consider "Tales from within Dragon Island" as a real masterpiece. Eleven month after KARFAGEN released the next album and it definitely deserves to be listened! Though I like it less then the 2019 album, it is still a great piece of music that is mandatory to be familiar with to everybody interested in nowadays symphonic prog.

Similarly to the previous one, "Birds of Passage" based on the poetry written by English Romanticists. For his 11th album Antony choose Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake. The idea to combine the romantic poetry and KARFAGEN's music is obviously marvelous as they fits one another very well. The lyrics mood perfectly corresponds to the album tune. Comparing to early KARFAGEN's music the title suite (44 minutes long) includes a lot of vocal parts; however, it seems rather advantage as these parts are balanced quite well. Unlike the Birds of Passage pt.1, the second part of the suite is much more instrumental. Though the structure of suite is more or less typical (linear structure, reprise, classical harmony transitions), every theme is masterfully developed and includes bridges and references to the other one's. This makes a great deal in terms of the suite general cohesion. The same can be stated concerning the album coherence in general ? all transitions are so natural and well-integrated that it is almost impossible to catch the bridge between song parts. The later are quite different and self-sufficient.

The music itself follows the trend that was declared by Antony during the Messages From Afar: it is bright and non-aggressive. The suite seems to be peaceful and harmonized. Even in the most dynamic parts music stays light. I strongly recommend listening to the album carefully and calm. Hustle will definitely prevent you from catching the beauty of the suite. But once you got it, you will continue to listen it again and again. This mood of harmony reminds the PROG ROCK COLLECTIVE music in some moments, which is also great. Musicians that were invited to create the album are extremely skilled and talented and definitely are on their place. Wonderful transitions from Maria Baranovska (violin) and Elena Kushiy (flute) expands the music enormously transforming the band into a real orchestra; however, each participant of the record deserves highest credits altogether with awesome cover, made by Igor Sokolskiy and great processing, mixing and programming, made by Antony in personal (and he gets better and better with every album).

The other tracks considered as bonus ones. "Spring" is rather entertaining song with nice vocal movements and "Sunrise" is great piece of melodic instrumental composition. Maybe including them in the suite would contribute to the holistic perception of the album, though they are good and well balances separately the same as the suite does. To sum up, the album is great; it develops what was done in the previous one and contributes to KARFAGEN discography quite well. However, next time we are awaited to see something quite different and extraordinary, just like Antony usually composes.

Report this review (#2309614)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Birds of Passage is Antony Kalugin's follow up to Échoes from within Dragon Island'. With returning musicians from the previous album, Alexandr Pavlov (Bassoon), Maria Baranovska (Violin) and Elena Kushiy (Flute) and the welcome return of guitarist Mathieu Spaeter from Magicians Theater. I believe Viktor Syrotin's drumming is articulate, I think this kind of music must be hard for a drummer. After Dragon Isle, it worried me how could the following album stand up to that great opus. I have now listened to Birds of Passage three times and I find it stands up very well. I think it is up to the listener to determine if it is better or not. Birds of Passage contains two lengthy tracks both surpassing the 20 minute mark along with two bonus shorter tracks. Again Antony has used the poetry of literary greats, this time being Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake for the basis of the subject for this album. Birds of Passage Part 1 we have the chorus of singers, Antony himself along with his wife Olga and Tim Sobolev. They sing the main theme that echoes throughout both parts. The music itself interweaves all instruments in a bright manner that reflects the subject matter of the poetry. I find Antony has the ability to make the singing as another instrument. Even though there is singing, it still feels as if it is fully instrumental.

Part 2 starts with a very nice calm section of acoustic guitar, soon to be accompanied by piano. This leads up to the punch of the electric guitar. This of course lends itself to the great playing from both Antony and Mathieu. About two thirds into this part is some keyboard which makes me feel I could float on those notes. Then as all great music, it pulls back to a quiet essence hinting to the climax that is coming. When that climax comes, it stirs you, makes your hairs stand up, and with the last notes satisfaction ensues. Then you breathe, let out a sigh and you know you want to listen to it again.

The first of the bonus tracks, 'Spring', has a tropical beat to it. A very happy feeling song with what I can only describe as a relaxing ghostly guitar sound which works really well. The second bonus track 'Sunrise'is perfectly named. The piano hints at the first rays of the sun coming over the horizon. This is a beautiful soothing track. This is a track you listen to when you soak up the scenery. This ends the album in a lovely, reflective mood.

I found this album more subtle and delicate than Dragon Isle. I mean this in a good way. It challenges the listener to listen more carefully. To listen to every instrument and it's journey, to listen to every nuance of every note played. To me this album will be a 'Passage' well worn with many listens.

Report this review (#2316209)
Posted Friday, February 14, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Antony and his team did it again! This time the new album is less symphonic, except of some moments from the first song that to me sounds similar to The Revealing Science of God from Yes' Topographic Ocean. The rest of the album has strong folk and world music flavor. Some moments reminiscent MIke Oldfield,and some... Pat Metheny: guitar sound, "exotic percussions", wordless vocals. I like them both, so I like the new Karfagen's opus as well. in comparison to previous albums, the mood of the album is on the calmer side. As on most Karfagen albums, there are a number of strong melodies, nice vocal parts, and more emphasis on guitar sound, both electric and acoustic. The keyboards are also there, but they mostly add color than solos. And, us usual, great artwork!
Report this review (#2338161)
Posted Monday, February 24, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #11 (Karfagen - Birds of Passage)

Antony Kalugin along with a cast of excellent musicians have done it yet again with Karfagen's eleventh studio release! After releasing Echoes From Within Dragon Island in 2019, they had a lot to live up to. Nonetheless, I was yet again blown away. From the excellent drumming from Viktor Syrotin, to the impressive guitar work from both Mathieu Spaeter and Aleksandr Pavlov this album's musicianship never falls into question. The poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake are used in the suite with additional lyrics are composed by Antony. Also, I just have to point out the jaw dropping artwork coming from Igor Sokolskiy, he has really become the Roger Dean of Karfagen! When listening to the album, you are able to notice influences from multiple classic prog bands, but the band never fails to capture their own identity. They are able to captivate the essence of what modern symphonic prog should be.

When first viewing the album, you will notice that it consists of Birds of Passage, divided into two parts. In addition to a couple of bonus tracks. Birds of Passage Parts 1 & 2 reminds me of what Jethro Tull did in their album, Thick As A Brick, by splitting one consecutive piece into two parts. These two parts are both excellent in their own right. The occurring main theme of Birds of Passage "This time, this place..." appears four times throughout the album. However, you will notice repeated themes all throughout the album that help tie it all together. There is such a beauty found here that it is mesmerizing. Similar to the previous album, there are few other songs that are laid out as bonus tracks to the main Birds of Passage suite. Unfortunately, these tracks don't really stand up when compared the masterpiece that came before it, but they are still an enjoyable listen nonetheless. I could go on about the excellent music found all over this album. From the incredible synth playing or the beautiful yet intense guitar work I would honestly just recommend that you check out this album for yourself!

This has to be one of my highlights that has come out so far this year, and I definitely don't see that changing. I am very interested to hear how Antony will follow up yet another masterpiece but I won't be surprised if he is able to do it. For any fan of symphonic prog, or prog in general, I would highly recommend Birds of Passage!

Report this review (#2410375)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2020 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but this album makes Antony sound tired--as if he's running out of fresh ideas, scraping the bottom of his vast and formerly-full barrel--as well as if he's tired of being Mr. Perfectionist in the engineering room and tired of being Mr. Perfectionist with every performance on every track. There are a lot of nice ideas here, a lot of nice performances, but they sound hodge-podged together, spliced together instead of worked out and re-worked out.

1. "Birds of Passage" (Part 1): (22:40) Antony is starting to sound tired. (38/45) - a) Your Grace - b) Against the Southern Sky - c) Sounds That Flow - d) Chanticleer - e) Tears from the Eyelids Start (Part 1) 2. "Birds of Passage" (Part 2): (21:11) (35.33/40) - a) Eternity's Sun Rise - nice little acoustic guitar rant (4.75/5) - b) Echoing Green - an exercise in experimental chord progressions? Nice second half--especially when the contributions of other musicians & vocalists join in. (17.33/20) - c) Showers from the Clouds of Summer - nice feeling set up by piano and treated incidentals. Easily the best, most emotionally evocative section on the album--even the PAUL SPEER-like electric guitar solo. (9.5/10) - d) Tears from the Eyelids Start (Part 2) - ambient outro. (4.25/5) - bonus tracks: 3. "Spring (Birds Delight)" (4:34) a wonderful African-influenced song. (9.25/10) 4. "Sunrise" (5:23) New Age-like flute-led instrumental. Pleasant but nothing exceptional or ground-breaking. (8.67/10)

Total Time: 53:56

B/four stars; a nice addition to any prog addict's music collection that I recommend you try for yourself even though what I hear here is mostly a flimsy prog-by-numbers rehash of old ideas from a tired master.

Report this review (#2411026)
Posted Sunday, June 7, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars KARFAGEN is the group of prolific and multi-instrumentalist Antony KALUGIN who also worked on HOGGWASH. This album was released barely a year after the highly acclaimed "Echoes From Within Dragon Island", an immense CD for its ingenuity. Here, Antony takes up a story of Henry Wadsworth and William Blake for a sound story eyeing YES, GENESIS just for the sounds of the synths. A little more CAMEL and TRANSATLANTIC, ROINE STOLT, a little QUIDAM at the start, even a touch of PENDRAGON for the flights and also MOODY BLUES came to my ear. More than anything, it's guaranteed immersion for 2 long spool tracks followed by 2 other normal titles and one extra available on digital. In short, real symphonic progressive rock as we dare not dream of. Music with many more musicians including the fabulous Mathieu SPAETER. Convoluted arrangements, mixtures of all the bands as if they were actually coming to make their own musical beef.

"Birds Of Passage p.1" and its five well-linked parts (don't go looking for the cuts, the 22 minutes go by in one go) leads the listener on a "Supper's ready" track that you will have to dissect in wire tapping. More vocals than in the previous CD, but also more solo moments with synths and rhythm guitar then solo. It's cheerful, playful, melodic and also a bit repetitive. It's beautiful, complex and also a bit overplayed, a bit too predictable; touch of MOODY BLUES, TRANSATLANTIC and GENESIS forward, a bit of FLOWER KINGS, then CAMEL, folk, medieval, vintage drawers especially also, the real melting pot in fact. Only one element, the rises of the first notes are an invitation to travel, then it goes off without a false note with breaks and other transitions in a limpid way.

"Birds Of Passage p.2" and its bucolic entry, a little bit on the "Horizons" of which you know, brings a monument with start-up on notes of YES revisited, a little on the tune of "Machine Messiah" , then an explosion of symphonic notes. Return by more recent GENESIS, after the separation with GABRIEL, and then the tune resumes with an incisive chorus interspersed with solos of synths and guitars. It even becomes punchy rock at times. Then Olfieldian breaks appear (bells and guitar from "Tubular Bells"), others a little jazzy, others a little to ENO itself. There are also sounds of the great KING CRIMSON, in short, the well- organized tote. An almost hard passage also gives a little more power to this long title. It all ends with a long, predictable, somewhat ethereal finish.

"Spring (Birds Delight)", one of 3 bonus tracks, to a tune by White Zulu Johnny Clegg; it's dancing, tribal. The violin and especially the guitar give the melody for a relaxed atmosphere, with percussions and well targeted vocals, which remind me a little of the MANFRED MANN'S EB of "Somewhere In Africa". "Sunrise" starts directly with a new-age sound with a little "Sonner Les Mâtines", the flute, a progressive, latent atmosphere, enough to rest your ears after the two master titles. On the verge of spleen too and a return to more Celtic tribal voices. Title which reminds me a little of certain tunes of "Plains Music" still of MMEB. Finally, only available in digital version, "Birds Short Introduction" comes here to take on the air of the first title, nothing more in the end.

KARFAGEN with his mentor Antony took up the challenge of the too close opus. This album is just prodigious, mixing closely and further all the sounds recorded in our musical subconscious. This album is distinguished by the use of sung melodies. However, in my opinion, it is less successful than its predecessor which I told you about at the beginning of this column. Well, you got it, a drawback given the grandiose production of "Echoes From Within Dragon Island" that I finally undercut! Ah, the columnists are not what they used to be, but it allows me to dive back into "Echoes" again.

Report this review (#2431835)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars With every Karfagen release comes new and great music. I can say that this album follows this trend. Birds of Passage part 1 starts off with some great atmosphere. Throughout the song you will get some great keyboard playing, some dark parts, some light hearted parts and overall, just a mix of emotions in this song! This song is just fantastic! Birds of Passage part 2 follows the same trend of Birds of Passage part 1 with the mix of emotions throughout the song. The song does not disappoint. Part 1 and part 2 are similar but very different at the same time. Part 2 is just as great as part 1. The bonus songs are also both very good. This is another impressive karfagen release. Definitely check this album out!
Report this review (#2450447)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since 2006, this band has been bringing beautiful compositions, instrumentally varied, full of melodies, feelings of calm, and so it is with the eleventh album "Birds of Passage", released, in January 2020.

Antony Kalugin plays the keyboards that dominate the album, provides vocals and percussion, composed and arranged the whole thing, mixed it and co-produced it.

Sometimes complex, slightly heavier rock and softer orchestral entries alternate, as well as balanced vocal lines, created by alternating female and male voices, divided into two long tracks, each over 20 minutes in length. The concept that Kalugin presented refers to the poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake for the lyrics, which are mostly about peaceful nature.

Melodic-symphonic progressive rock, which primarily pays homage to symphonic art rock and imaginatively, combines new age folk, ethnic, jazz, retro and neo-prog by using the multi-part long tracks, with changing tempos and moods, as well as colorful but not overloaded-looking arrangements.

Progressive and often dreamy, filled with atmospheric elements witch are significant and therefore worth mentioning (presented by the beautiful keyboard solos and acoustic passages), but also with some symphonic rough edges, this album belongs to the upper class of melodic progressive rock.

Report this review (#2481380)
Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Birds of Passage served as my introduction to Antony's music and Karfagen in particular. This album is an excellent representation of Antony's considerable talents as a musician and as a composer. The music is largely Neo-progressive in origin and yet there is this element of mystery Karfagen bring to the table that makes the music feel much fresher than many a Neo-progressive release. If you love the progressive rock of the 1970's, I believe you will find much inspiration in this Karfagen release and the music is fresh enough to warrant many listens before the listener exhausts the prog nuggets buried within.
Report this review (#2530275)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is my first review. Ill have it shorter than your regular review you would find on this page but i feel a lot of it is just ramble about stuff thats obvious or irrelevant so ill be going straight to the point.

Songwriting 3/5 - it is a pleasant listen. Nowhere did i stop and think to myself that i needed to hear something again. The song doesnt have as strong of a character as the old epics did, it doesnt take a sudden turn and it isnt really building anything up it kind of just flows through as it is if that makes sense. It feels more like a soundtrack than a song and in that way its pleasant like how letting a soundtrack play in the background of something is. I think i prefer the second part over the first but youre really getting the same out of them both.

Vocals 3/5 - The guy is a good singer, the girl isnt bad either but neither of them feel unique. This also isnt complemented by the fact that theres nothing interesting about the lyrics.

Lyrics 1/5 - The main hook feels generic or even silly, the rest isnt catchy at all. I never found myself suddenly recollecting the lyrics or singing along with it. Forgettable. Instruments 4/5 - Guys clearly know how to play. Theres no obvious part where any of them really show off. Other than that theres no issue

Composition 3/5 - It works fine as a double epic, i still think you could have summarized it in a single epic and then have room for different music following the same aesthetic. I think it would have made a much more complete album. The bonus tracks arent bad but dont add anything to what you will find on the title track.

Atmosphere 4/5 - There definitely is a cohesive atmosphere over the album that reflects the imagery the cover art is trying to convey, this is their strongest perk imo. If i were ranking the album cover too it would get 5/5 and is what originally got me to listen to the album.

RANT: a lot of these newer progressive rock bands seem to be suffering from the same thing. With this i feel they are just using what they come up with and end up releasing 10 different albums over 10 years of overwhelming material that just kind of sound all the same. All of it feels like theyre trying to do what they did in the 70s instead of doing something new which progressive rock is all about. I feel there is a much clearer idea of what a progressive rock song should soundlike today which was basically nonexistent back then. If you break the songs down to sections, (same applies for opeth and wobbler and the rest of this gen of prog) it seems theyre always trying to imitate a certain playstyle from the 70s. One song sounds a lot like jethro tull then the next is like genesis and then the next is like pink floyd. I feel this is really obvious on this record. So im thinking why dont they piece together the good parts and make 3 possibly great albums in 10 years (which i believe they would be capable of) instead of pooping out a new album as soon as they have a song.

In the end it wasnt short at all. I feel this is a bit different from the norm here but if it slides ill probably make more reviews. Id give it a 2,5 if it were an option.

Report this review (#2534865)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2021 | Review Permalink

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