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Antony Kalugin - Marshmallow Moondust CD (album) cover

MARSHMALLOW MOONDUST

Antony Kalugin

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars Antony has released a mesmerising new album where his musical inventiveness has risen to a whole new level. With the clever play on words with the title Mars(hmallow) and Moondust is surpassed by the cleverness of the music. A truly solo album where Antony plays every instrument himself, and yet it feels like he has his usual accompanying musical guests from his Karfagen and Sunchild albums. The cover another masterpiece by artist Igor Sokolskiy to what I interpret as the child looking into the future and leaving the past behind. And Antony reflects this in his music. This is his antidote to the worlds current covid predicament. This is a bright, uplifting album mainly in two tracks going for 20 minutes each, followed by two medley's at 7 minutes each. All the different types of keyboards are layered here as expected by Antony, showing us again his masterful playing and composing. Added to this is the wonderful guitar playing showing different textures he plays that matches and intertwines with the keyboards.

I believe also the composition is the tightest and most solid pieces of music he has recorded.

This is a stunning addition to Antony's repertoire and to anyone's music collection. Already knowing his catalogue, I am still astonished by his mastery. Play this album and get lifted out of the gloom.

Report this review (#2458234)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been listening to Antony Kalugin for years now and this is one of my favorite albums he's ever released. The first song Marshmallow is fantastic. The melody's here are great and really shows how talented Antony is. The atmosphere is also very unique and beautiful. Moondust Is also great. My favorite would be Marshmallow but Moondust is just as good. It is really crazy to think Antony plated every instrument on this since it sounds like a full band played on this album. Overall, after just two listens I can't stop listening to this album. That must say how good this album is!
Report this review (#2459176)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whilst all of our lives had been thrown into the darkness and the in word was "lockdown" The accomplished Antony Kaulgin was busy as usual creating new music but now on his own isolated like the rest of mankind a music opus that without fear of overstatement redefines the genre progressive rock.

Antonys music first came to my attention when he kindly send me "The Water " I fell in love straight away with his melodies and now some 20 years later here is the solo follow up and still it is melodies that capture the heart strings.

I have been fortunate enough to work closely with him on every release since Continium in 2005 he has been on one hell of a hot streak musically and has always threatened to create a musical monster like this.

At just over 40 minutes the two suites dovetail beautifully on this instrumental masterpiece. There are no words the story is totally the music.

Following its creation from the very first demo recording I have become totally hooked on it and now may seek professional help to allow me to move on musically from it.

As stated it truly redefines the term progressive rock I fully understand how silly that comment may sound but I promise you having listened performed and written our music genre from its 1960s birth this is up there with the very best albums I can recall.

So come on out of the darkness of 2020 dear friends and into the light once again your ears will not believe what they hear. Will

Report this review (#2459752)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's always a pleasure and joy to see my good friend Antony new release! Finally it arrived to Ukraine and I had a pleasure to listen it on a CD. What a cover! Brilliant work by Igor Sokolskiy as always compliments the music! Two full size posters are present for all Prog fans. For me it was quite interesting to check the list of musical instruments used by Anton. This time he has played all kind of instruments and it was a true revelation for me to hear all guitars being played by maestro himself. And I must admit all sounds cool. Regarding keys - awesome sounds! And it's mainly virtual instruments. When you have skills and talent you can make Vst-i sound as soft, Rich and Fat as proper hardware stuff! Though I was pleased to see my Kurzwiel 2500 and Yamaha cp refaced in the list as well ;) Now about the music - it's unbelievably light and warm. You may call it "soft art rock". Lovely melodies.. melodies!! More uplifting and dynamic first track and mellow- acoustic second one. Both well produced and superbly arranged. To me it's always a mystery how Antony managed to produce so much music where albums are so different!! I wish him luck and success with the album, something that he really deserves. My rating 5 starts without a doubt!
Report this review (#2459979)
Posted Monday, October 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Antony has crafted a beautiful prog instrumental album written and played entirely by him, his keyboards are outstanding as is his guitar playing, although the guitar is not his primary instrument he plays in a very nice full sounding and emotional style. Marshmallow is a well crafted melodic well constructed piece of music which carries you along a nicely from one melody to another creating a very lovely atmosphere, Moondust is a little more dynamic and there are loads of stunning set pieces which keeps your attention to the end, this album should be acknowledged as one of the best releases of the year it's certainly my favourite.
Report this review (#2459991)
Posted Monday, October 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Some completely solo performances of ideas by the prolific prog maestro from Ukraine. Marshmallow Moondust offers some pleasant, upbeat fluff to distract people from the heaviness of the COVID-era.

1. "Marshmallow" (20:20) mostly prog lite: pleasant instrumental background music with a few nice passages and themes--especially in the 15th and 16th minutes--before the PAT METHENY GROUP Latin-and vocalised section. It's a little too cheesy and gratuitously upbeat for my tastes, but pleasant enough. And there is definitely nothing new, exciting, or innovative going on here. (33/40)

2. "Moondust" (20:20) I was 90 seconds into this one before I realized it wasn't the ending of the previous song! The opening is very familiar--similar to both Incantations-era MIKE OLDFIELD and the light-rock side of PAT METHENY(Secret Story). The "Sesame Street" themes used in the foundation of the third and fourth minutes are a bit distracting--but it is a nice, melodic, soft passage. At 4:40 there is a subtle shift to a new motif that could be an under-development GENESIS demo. Nice sound palette and melodic hooks--especially from the Tony Banksian keys--it's just that you know GENESIS would do much better with the guitars and drums. In the eleventh minute there is another slight shift in which male vocals whisper sing "marshmallow moon" in the background before Mellotron-like female choir voices do some DANNY ELFMAN/Harry Potter-like eerie vocal insertions. At 12:20 things are toned down for clunky bass and jazzy drums to take the Potter-theme into a jazz-lite direction--but this only lasts a bit before bare synth wash, acoustic guitar, "oboe & flutes" and fretless bass take it down into a pastoral New Age passage. Great guitar lead around the 16-minute mark before "harpsichord" and "vibes" and organ take it into a slow GRYPHON/PROCUL HARUM/FOCUS-like theme and passage--which takes us to an amped up end of multiple recapitulations of other themes woven into a cacophony of sound. (34.5/40)

I'm not even sure whether to count the condensed "medley" version of the two epics that are included with my Bandcamp "Digital Album" purchase. The version of "Marshmallow" (3. "Marshmallow Medley" [7:20]) is definitely more rollicking and captures the essence of the 20-minute version with the dynamics of an Emerson Lake and Palmer song cross-bred with a 1980s PAT METHENY GROUP song. (13.25/15)

4. "Moondust Melody" (7:20) opens as if it were the previous song, but then turns a different corner with its sound palette--though ends up still sounding like a KEITH EMERSON keyboard display over a WEATHER REPORT/GENESIS base. The slowdown section--here instituted at the end of the third minute--feels like an unnatural transition, but once you're there it still works in a New Agey jazz-fusion kind of way. Gone are the Sesame Street references but the Procul Harum/Focus motifs become "stately wedding" slow march music. The Danny Elfman/XII Alfonso-like convergence of themes that occurs in the finale is, then, amped up but shortened and a little less satisfying. It sure goes by much faster than the beautiful long version! (12.75/15)

I like the long version of "Moondust" much better than "Marshmallow" but it still suffers from a lightness that feels sometimes incomplete or unfinished. And then I like the condensed version of "Marshmallow" better than that of "Moondust." Go figure!

B-/3.5 stars; a nice prog lite addition to any prog lover's music collection. it's getting a lot of praise so, check it out for yourselves. There's a lot of ear candy here--and it's certainly better than Birds of Paradise--but some of it feels overly familiar, so let's let it percolate a bit before deciding on its final place in Prog World.

Report this review (#2460025)
Posted Monday, October 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars While the depressive and difficult year 2020 caused tremendous lack of inspiration for many people, Antony Kalugin keeps provide us with great instances of progressive music. After a strong symphonic Karfagen's "Birds of Passage" he created a complete solo album using his keyboards, guitars and voice only. However, the diversity and galore of sounds are still present and reveal the great Antony's compositional fantasy (though I realize now that I do prefer hearing of natural drumset). Indeed, both suites sound like fully-symphonic prog artifacts and will be an important part of any progressive rock fan collection.

This is all because Antony did create an awesome album indeed. The first suite, "Marshmallow" is very light and bright. It develops in unhurried and balanced manner from the horal sounds on the beginning to the short reprise in the end through a numerous transmissions and melodic turns. "Moondust" sounds heavier and is more dynamic therefore I like it more. The melody constantly changes, mixing high and low sounds together with dark and bright feelings. Being the beautiful piece of music in the first place, this suite provides the road that is quite interesting to follow. It contains numerous references (the most clear and intriguing is the variation to "The Carol of The Bells"). Again and always, Antony often refers to the previous Karfagen albums, so those, who familiar with them will recognize few brilliant transmissions from the past. The suits are connected and interlinked, so the album in general sounds really monolithic and approaches both to the high standards of progressive rock and very classical symphonic sound.

Short to say, Antony did it again indeed. Congratulations to him!

Report this review (#2460060)
Posted Monday, October 26, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars With 2020 being a bad year for so many people because of COVID-19, the virus itself, and the lockdowns that followed, we all need something to remedy the hardships endured by so many. And here comes a new CD with music that is a real breath of fresh air!

This new solo album by Ukraine's Antony Kalugin is exactly what "the doctor ordered" as the music produced here is so refreshing! Antony normally plays keyboards for Karfagen and Sunchild, but here he is doing something on his own. He plays all the instruments and has drawn the perfect balance between them. As a keys player its only to be expected that the keys take centre stage, and they do. Some wonderful solos, melodies and counter melodies are on display here and its a sheer pleasure to allow yourself to be swept along by such cheerful playing showing how Antony enjoys his music. And the guitar playing is very good too! Antony has struck the perfect balance between guitars and keys, and his guitar work is impressive! Some great riffs and some cool effects too, especially what sounds like phasing effects. I always liked this sound and I'm not disappointed with what he has done here.

The album starts off rather slowly but do NOT let that deceive you because the pace soon picks up and then we're moving more up-tempo and the rocking begins! There are 2 tracks on the CD, both timed at 20:20 minutes long, no prizes for guessing why! Track 1 definitely keeps a good pace going, whereas Track 2 is slightly more laid back in nature. Track 1 has rockier guitars whereas Track 2 the guitars have some interesting background layers of music but still keeps a positive vibe to the overall feel of the album. Near the end there is some saxophone being played. Now I do not like sax music at all but here the sax is played beautifully and there are no loud squeaky sounds, just lovely melodies that complement the keys perfectly.

There is a list inside the cover that tells us exactly what instruments Antony used on this album. I like it when musicians do this because although I'm not a musician, I'm always curious as to what instruments are being used! He has an impressive list too! But although this is a solo album by a keys player, it doesn't sound like one. Instead it sounds like a BAND, and this really gives the music its epic feel that so many prog albums of the 70's used to have. But although it does have the typical sound and feel of the 70's, it has 21st century technology which enhances the music resulting in an album with great music, a real enthusiasm and cheerful feel to the music, and an excellent production. And the drumming isn't bad either!

So what would I say if someone asked me "Which of the 2 tracks do I like best?". I really can't decide as both are amazing in their own right, but if I HAD to choose or be thrown off a cliff, then I'd say Track 1 as its more rockier. Well I am a bit of a headbanger!

So, in final analysis, as 2020 has been a tragic year and its easy to ask - What good has come out of all that's happened? This Marshmallow Moondust album by Antony Kalugin is the best thing to come out of all this. But don't take my word for it; go buy this CD and let Antony take you on a musical journey that will cure you of any "lockdown blues". Keep up the good work Antony, as you're a credit to modern Prog!!

Report this review (#2460341)
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Collaborators haven't yet shown enthusiasm for this brand new solo album by the frontman of KARFAGEN, SUNCHILD and HOGGWASH from Ukraine (at least not in reviews), whereas each of the five reviews by non- collabs are full-rated. Anyway, I can assure you, I stand wholeheartedly behind my own rating, with all my 37 years of prog listening history. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was so thrilled by a new prog album. Right at the first listening, within the very first few minutes, I knew I would love it, if the charm of the beginning would grace the whole album. And it does. Yes, I love this album!

If I ever feel the need to use the words "Prog Heaven", it is now. By that I underline the easiness of enjoying this instrumental music, feeling blissfully happy. As we know, more demanding prog music doesn't make the impression right away, one needs to digest it and listen to it time and time again before finally "getting" it. That's not the case here: you're instantly grabbed by the beautiful and dynamic flow of melodies and excellent, multi- levelled mellow symphonic prog soundscape. And Antony made it all by himself, ie. played all the instruments. That's just amazing (but it's NOT affecting my rating)! He's a master at keyboards as anyone familiar with e.g. Karfagen knows, but his guitar playing is very good too, and even the drums do not sound fakey (that surely was one of the most critical aspects). The sounds of flute and saxophone are not "real" since Antony and his co- producer Will Mackie decided to stick to the concept of a one man record. Undoubtedly a real flautist/saxophonist would have made a better and fuller impact, but everything that's heard here is enjoyable.

The cd contains only the two main epics, both 20:20 long; I'm not familiar with the 7:20 versions featured in the digital album. I think the sound is best compared to WILLOWGLASS, and CAMEL at their best, naturally with a bigger dominance on keyboards -- but also they can be sonically compared to Camel's finest moments. There are also sharper key parts reminiscent of ELP, but a Camel-like mellowness is never very far away, which is not to say this music would lack dynamics.

Perhaps 'Marshmallow' is the one that flows more passionately and coherently. The beautifully melodic composition is inspired all the way, and the sounds (keys especially) are simply marvellous. 'Moondust' may not be quite as smooth in its twists and turns, which actually helps it sound different from 'Marshmallow'. It also has more flute & sax parts. The synths at the beginning have a momentary Vangelis vibe. Concerning both tracks, the colourful band sound doesn't pale against Karfagen, and Antony also adds some wordless voicing here and there. In a way 'Moondust' is the more varied piece, having more notable jazz nuances and containing also longer delicate movements. Perhaps the end is a bit modest for a composition of this scale, as the more dynamic movement before the peaceful coda ends quite suddenly (this may have something to do with the wish to make each piece exactly 20:20 in length). That's however a harmless tiny detail, and frankly I prefer music to leave you longing for the next listening round instead of building a gigantic and extended grand finale to leave you exhausted.

If you enjoy melodic, instrumentally oriented symph prog á la CAMEL and WILLOWGLASS (whose Andrew Marshall I see as a kindred spirit to Kalugin, sharing similar strong influences from the 70's), do yourself a favour and get this album. BTW, I also like how the cover art (and two mini posters) by Igor Sokolskiy contains references to "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This is a timeless prog masterpiece, and certainly my favourite album of 2020!

Report this review (#2460613)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is like returning to a "snow goose" if it was recorded by one man. I did not realize that Anton plays guitar so good. So interplay between synths and guitars are fabulous. Nice touches of the choir here and there brings this Alice in Wonderland feeling. It has great melodies, mixed and produced on a highest level, so that is why you listen to the whole entire album on one go! Yes , it's not aggressive nor politicized, it's not about virus or ubiquitous isolation it's another fairytale created by master! Regarding the artwork - it's awesome. Album deserves to be heard, in my opinion it's solid 5.
Report this review (#2461639)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars ANTONY KALUGIN is the mastermind of KARFAGEN. It also has its letters of nobility with SUNCHILD and HOGGWASH; he started to compose new age music then very quickly a progressive frame replaced it; after an album in 2008, he delivers here an instrumental opus in the lineage of the last KARFAGEN with drifts and convolutions of CAMEL and other YES at the start, quickly joined by pure and hard prog symphonic. ANTONY KALUGIN is the only person to have participated in his orchestral solo album. 4 tracks available, 2 long and 2 medley on covers of the 2 major titles, one for long adventures in symphonic regions, the other for surfing when time is short. A dive for these increasingly uncertain times infested with sinister viruses that are shaking up the world music economy. An album that goes on repeat at home like a medicine. "Marshmallow" has a typical airy and celestial sound from the start, the intro reminds me of this devilish instrumental from ENCHANT (I'll let you find it on the 1st album!), Then it goes on the best KARFAGEN, playful, fruity and melodic; CAMEL immediately comes to mind as a basis but the most important is the sequence of the different instruments and the cohesion in their programming, the synth and the drums giving the basis, the guitar, Soviet Czech bass, flute and variations of keyboards taking care of bringing us on musical sound images far from the current tumult. A little GENESIS for the synth of course in wavelets. A major room in which each of you can enter and travel as you wish. "Moondust" leaves for more airy regions, also aerial since I hear the plane go by, cosmic in my opinion, passing from one lighted drawer to another more intimate; some sounds are reminiscent of SUPERTRAMP's sax when the verse would stop and go on a marvelous progressive musical drift; after a little flute we catch a glimpse of Peter GABRIEL who releases his archangel solo; warm guitar in real life (yes he plays almost everything composer's bugger!) comes at one point and gives us another direction yet, in short, long piece, hold a few floydian notes there, disconcerting, symphonic and majestic, title which rekindles the torch of prog quite short without more voice; well I also remain speechless in front of this sputnik "Marshmallow Medley" and "Moondust Medley" therefore take parts of the 2 symphonies, I'll let you guess where are the deleted parts and those chained, the voices come a few moments to integrate with the instruments, to have just for the pleasure of get lost in these tight convolutions. ANTONY KALUGIN has (again) produced a major musical work; warmth, ambiance, emotion, creativity, more or less vintage-fashioned synths that will from time to time search very far in our memories and prevent us from going into Alzheimer's mode; just the title will take you back to your tender years when you ate, where you gorged on this legendary candy while looking at the moon, at a time when we must keep hope, this musical ray of light bringing us out of the darkness viral. Music that redefines the progressive genre for those who have lost hope, a must as I hoped. The KALUGIN stamped sound at the top of its art.
Report this review (#2462955)
Posted Thursday, November 5, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars So my first review here and it happens to be on the new solo album from Karfagen's mastermind, Antony Kalugin. What is there to be heard on this album? Two 20 minute epics, clean production, and some derivative, yet good songwriting. Antony Kalugin keeps his Symphonic Prog train rolling by sounding like an instrumental The Flower Kings and Camel cross sounding album. The keyboard solos show Peter Bardens like qualities, Steve Hackett/Roine Stolt type guitar playing, and chord structures that resemble the seventies prog style. In my eyes, this album definitely has its moments, however the songs don't stick to anything solid long enough. When gold is finally struck, the songs found don't hold onto that found gold long enough. There is too much wavering and not enough to keep you one hundred percent interested. A few things that I think could've improved this album, vocals, and extra acoustic tracks between the two epics. This album could've gone really far if it had vocals, and a few acoustic tracks, but there isn't anything I can personally grasp to.

Marshmellow, the first half title track has a more pastoral vision but yet again, is a bit robotic in places, very well produced but has a bit of a derivative sense. Good solos, great production again, but yet again as I have stated, there isn't much to cling to. 11/20

Moondust, the last half title track is a bit busier than the first half, great production, again a bit robotic, and once again a bit derivative. Good solos again, but, and I feel like a broken record, it doesn't have much to cling to. I do think this is an improvement over the first half, I like the more busy aspect with the pastoral/nostalgic sound. 15/20

Score: 26/40 Percentage: 65%

Good, but non-essential.

Report this review (#2474680)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars First, I have to state that it's very clear Kalugin is a talented musician and composer, and I would like to hear more from him.

However, what he appears to have done with this album is attempted to create something of a "prog by numbers" demonstration of the genre of symphonic prog. What that means is that to me, he's done everything he can to create a generic symphonic album that everyone can like to a certain degree, but this just leads to it taking no risks, no dare, and therefore zero wow factor. I cannot pick out a single minute of the album which I didn't like, but then nor can I highlight any one bit I found brilliant.

The majority of the album is light-hearted fluff, and would be suitable for hotel lobbies, call centre hold music, elevators... it is totally inoffensive, nothing wrong with it whatsoever... but toothless.

A decent, solid, reliable album, but no more than that. It is the vanilla ice cream, the ready salted crisps, the magnolia paint of symphonic prog. It's the easy-going, stress-free daytime tv your elderly relatives relax in front of.

It's the very definition of a 3 star album. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever, but nothing jaw dropping either.

Report this review (#2478401)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
2 stars Antony Kalugin is a great musician and Marshmallow Moondust is his last album so far. First of all I will say that this is a well crafted album, good production and representation of all instruments.

The main problem that I have with this album is that it sounds like he wanted to record "another symphonic prog album" with an already established recipe and style of writing music which we can hear on many albums every year. What I heard throughout this album is a light, soft music which combines mostly stiles of melodic sounding prog mixed with some elements of neo prog.

He took a safe path and doing so he did not deliver anything bold or exiting that will keep me interested in this album.

Report this review (#2490609)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | Review Permalink

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