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Karda Estra

Symphonic Prog

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Karda Estra Eve album cover
4.08 | 45 ratings | 8 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. An Ordinary Mortal (4:33)
2. Andraiad (8:27)
3. The Pale Ray (3:28)
4. Super Electrical (4:40)
5. Eve (7:37)
6. Sparks That Flash And Fall (10:23)
7. Thoughts And Silences (3:23)

Total time 42:31

Line-up / Musicians

- Richard Wileman / classsic & electric guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, arranger & producer
- Ileesha Bailey / vocals
- Rachel Larkins / violin & viola (1)
- Helen Dearnley / violin (2,5,6)
- Caron Hansford: oboe, English horn
- Zoe King / flute, alto sax, clarinet

Releases information

Album inspired by the gothic novel 'The Future Eve', written in 1886 by Villiers de L'Isle Adam.

CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 104 (2001, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KARDA ESTRA Eve ratings distribution

(45 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

KARDA ESTRA Eve reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Few bands have impressed me lately as KARDA ESTRA, each new album I listen introduces me in a world of Symphonic blended with Ethnic Prog and wonderful atmospheres and "Eve" is not the exception.

I'm sure that some people may find them a bit soft and maybe predictable, but the beauty of the music is in the skills of the interpretation and the richness of sounds which blend perfectly with the Neo Classical root of the band, something only a talented composer like Richard Wileman can achieve.

"Eve" is based in "The Future Eve", a novel written in 1886 by Villiers de L'Isle Adam about a scientist who creates a fiancée for his fiend, some sort of Pygmalion blended with Frankenstein, a concept that fits perfectly with Wileman's obsession in the British Gothic Revival of the 19th Century.

The opener "An Ordinary Mortal" marks the style and atmosphere of the album, seems predictable and bland on a first listen, but if you concentrate, you will listen the incredible textures, the capable combination of instruments with Ileesha Bailey's voice (used as an instrument), the delicate work in the orchestration, it's really impressive, no detail has been left to luck, everything is carefully taken care of. A very good introduction for the album, please listen the fabulous work of Helen Dearnley combining with the violin with the Gothic organ in the background, amazing work.

"Andraiad" starts with a bells, acoustic guitar and oboe soft introduction, even when it's not usual to listen radical changes in KARDA ESTRA's albums, in this case the song develops faster than usual, the organ, violin and viola with some horns and ethnic instruments help to create a dramatic and tense atmosphere, another high point.

"The Pale Ray" is a short intermezzo after a long track, very close to Neo Classical with a mysterious sound and the creepy voice of Ileesha in the background, I don't know if they pretended to create a relaxing moment because the drama is always present.

"Super Electrical" starts with a tense piano solo soon followed by wind instruments, the atmosphere doesn't change, you almost feel like in Victorian England, but the unexpected happens, a couple violent changes and musical explosions occur, which is good for a change being that the track would be a bit repetitive otherwise.

"Eve" is the central track and it's about the central character Miss Alicia, a track that follows a subtle Waltz structure (The music of the 1800's) but the arrangements are so well done that the mysterious atmosphere is never lost, you can even listen some sort of spacey effects that blend with Illesha Bailey's voice to create a strange effect that reflects the non human characteristics of the "Future Eve". Excellent track and a very skilful composition.

"Sparks that Flash and Fall" is the longest track of the album, almost 10:30 minutes, a very weird intro prepares the listener for almost anything, but surprisingly a Church organ solo surrounds us and the band joins to create a spectacular section that combines all the instruments while keeping the atmosphere intact, the song flows gently until the end with impressive violin, piano and oboe solos.

"Eve" is closed by "Thoughts and Silences", a track that adds a nostalgic and very sad scenario, haven't read the novel so I can't guess why it was chosen, even when it's pleasant there's a strong sense of loss that invades the listener, but well, a good artist must transmit strong feelings and this is achieved.

Not hard to rate the album, is not an essential masterpiece, even when close, I would rate it with 4.5 stars but being impossible will be conservative and give 4 stars.

A great album for Classical fans, and for Symphonic geeks like me with love for the melodic side of Progressive Rock.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Thanks again to ProgArchives reviewers who recommended this group because of my interest in/like of AFTER CRYING, MINDFLOWER, and WILLOWGLASS. Buying discs from founder/composer/guitarist Richard Wileman has been a delight because I get personal emails and heads-up notices of Karda Estra news. Also, check out the growing number of live, in-the-studio YouTube videos Richard and his bandmates have put out. (I actually like all of the YouTube video songs better than their album counterparts.)

Anyway, to Eve. From 2001, it is one of Karda Estra's earliest works. While the dark, macabre, 'gothic' story and mood themes are not necessarily what attract me to KE's music, they are, admittedly, very interesting and very different. Richard so often throws in some radically unexpected chord or key change into his compositions that it never fails to 'wake me up' and cause me to smile. Whether I'm smiling at his genius, his audacity, or his guts I'm not altogether sure. All I know is that I like it. A lot.

Though acoustic instruments are the dominant ones used in KE, there are many layers to their recorded music. Organs, synthesizers, and electric guitars and basses play important roles in the music--mostly--and this is the truly unique thing about KE--as background instruments! Sure, the Hackett-esque electric leads get a lot of attention from writers/reviewers, but these are rarely dominant (very reminiscent of the way Steve Rothery's guitar work is mixed into early Marillion music). Richard is truly a master of composition and a beautiful classical guitar player. KE's vocalist, Ileesha Bailey, must be the most meticulous and patient of souls, for her multi-layered vocals are always so exquisitely recorded and rendered. Then there are those woodwinds! Those fabulous women with lips of steel! They alone are enough to get me to listen to every one of KE's songs. The piano/keyboard and strings work is always important, integral, if not always as foreground as the horns, voices, and guitars.

One of my favorite elements of KE music is the often lack of drumming. Don't get me wrong: I love percussionists and percussion work, yet I find myself enjoying more and more the musics that are created without the incessant and sometimes redundant feeling of pounding bass drums, beating toms, snappy snares and crashing cymbols. Thank you Richard and Karda Estra for your role in helping to bring forth a modern revival of the lost art of chamber music.

1. "An Ordinary Mortal" (4:34) Part ANTHONY PHILLIPS, part GENESIS, until Ileesha's vocals enter then it's all Karda Estra. (9/10)

2. "Andraiad" (8:28) Were it not for the gorgeous woodwinds and strings speckled intermittently throughout, this song would fit as a brilliant, eerie STEVE HACKETT song: the guitars all sound just like Steve's style and sounds. Again, Ileesha's vocalizations give KE their own category. Awesome guitar work, Richard! (19/20)

3. "The Pale Ray" (3:29) begins with piano and flute playing staccato notes together, before Ileesha's voice and Caron's oboe introduce other themes. Flute, piano, oboe, and voice take turns playing variations of melodies off of each other. Truly a classical composition of some accomplishment. (8/10)

4. "Super Electrical" (4:41) is another piano-based tune but this time using clarinet, electric guitar and French horn to bring on the melody harmonically. Until an explosion of percussives and Ileesha change the tone for a bit. Electric guitar with volume pedal trades melody with flute and clarinet for a bit before the Ileesha-tympani charge bursts in again. Electric bass and distorted fuzz guitar take a turn before the clarinet, voice and piano chord progression takes over. (9/10)

5. "Eve" (7:37) is a kind of waltz (with snare drum!) this one has an unusual almost MAGMA-like balance of electric and acoustic/orchestral instruments playing side-by-side--and with absolutely beautiful melodies being exchanged as if in conversation. Tremolo electric guitar is another nice effect. At 2:40 Ileesha's stunning, haunting Siren vocals take over and dupe the listener into her power. A beautiful orchestrated ANTHONY PHILLIPS section then ensues, with cymbols and the return of the tremolo electric guitar, beneath a flute and strings lead. Solo piano takes over for a bit before organ, bass and MIKE OLDFIELD-like guitar join in. Then flute with "Entangled"-like guitar before giving way to a variation on a previous section and its theme using voice, strings and flute. A brief encounter with a strings chamber section prepares one for the vocalized outro. (15/15)

6. "Sparks that Flash and Fall..." (10:24) is easily the eeriest song on the album--reminding me a lot of some of the odd nature songs on BRIAN ENO's Ambient 4: On Land. Then organ and volume-pedaled electric guitar take over before treated piano and acoustic guitar sneak up from beneath to take turns in the lead roles. Very ANT PHILLIPS-like section of odd guitar chords being played in arpeggio. A bridge of loud percussives, piano, and Illesha lead into a section that has a kind of Middle Eastern feel to it. All the while the song's eeriness remains quite edgy. At the 5:00 mark there is a complete pause in the music before organ and electric guitars start to bring the main melody back. Orchestral strings and oboe bring light(ness) to the feel, even while playing the song's main melody! Brilliant! Violin plays over piano until bassoon and creepy synth and acoustic nylon string guitar take us back into mystery. What compositional vision! What a collaborative performance! The last two minutes fill the listener with hope and lightness--despite the very odd, eerie piano & orchestra outro. (Shades of the possible return of the evil within?) (19/20)

7. "Thoughts and Silences" (3:24) is a beautiful acoustic dance of guitar, piano, and woodwinds. Stunning melodies throughout. Perfect ending to this amazing album! Oboe, clarinet, and bassoon all take a turn to say goodbye. (10/10)

Though, IMHO, every song on Eve deserves at least a 7 or 8, my three favorites, "Eve," "Super Electrical," and "An Ordinary Mortal" are sheer masterpieces in terms of matching aural pleasure with compositional and performance mastery.

One of my favorite elements of KE music is the often lack of drumming. Don't get me wrong: I love percussionists and percussion work, yet I find myself enjoying more and more the musics that are created without the incessant and sometimes redundant feeling of pounding bass drums, beating toms, snappy snares and crashing cymbols. Thank you Richard and Karda Estra for your role in helping to bring forth a modern revival of the lost art of chamber music.

Five stars--a masterpiece for its levels of composition and performance, the pleasure principle, for its freshness. One of my Top 10 Favorite Albums of the Naughties.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Amazingly beautiful!

Never is enough. A great advantage of being member of a site like ProgArchives is that you meet nice people who share their tastes and feelings towards music, their favorite bands, their recent discoveries and their personal gems. Some years ago I was (luckily) introduced to Karda Estra, a band which whose name I had never seen before but due to some people's description I felt tempted and interested, and my wise decision was to accept that suggestion.

Karda Estra is basically the project of a very talented English musician named Richard Wileman, who composes and arranges all the songs, is worth mentioning that he can play several instruments. But his compositions have always the support of other (female) musicians who add their talent playing some classical instruments such as violin, oboe or clarinet.

My introduction to Karda Estra was this 2001 released called "Eve", an album whose music is far from being that classic symphonic prog style, but whose wonderful compositions caught my attention since the very first listen, and an album that nowadays I still enjoy as it was the first time.

The booklet says that "Eve was inspired by the short novel The Future Eve, written in 1886 by Villiers de L'Isle Adam. --- The music here isn't an adaptation of the story, instead I was inspire to explore the work's atmosphere, tragedy and sense of misguided ambition". We can see once again that literature and music can work together.

This album features 7 songs and a total time of over 42 minutes. It kicks off with "An Ordinary Mortal", which is a beautiful composition that since the first seconds creates a wonderful and charming atmosphere, the vocals (no lyrics) play an extraordinary role here because you will feel guided by them, it is like you are entering to a new realm.

"Andraiad" starts with some bell's sound, later an oboe and acoustic guitar appears and begin to share different colors and textures that change a minute later because the atmosphere turns a bit dark, those violins are telling a story that is looking for a listener. The composition is long so there are several changes within, you can close your eyes and let this music embrace you, wonderful.

"The Pale Ray" is a short and ethereal composition; again the vocals play an important role accompanied by a piano and some wind instruments, an exquisite soft moment.

Next track is "Super Electrical", the sound actually follows the same path as in all the compositions, but what is different is the atmosphere created and all the game of textures they use. This song has some explosive moments because the addition of drums adds an extra power to the musical scene. This is a very interesting track.

If you were previously incited to get involved with this music, "Eve" only confirms that you are actually inside a story, because all the well-crafted sounds apprehend you and don't let you escape. The different instruments create a beautiful, somehow happy and somehow provoking atmosphere that is constantly changing but keeping the same goal. In this composition you can appreciate the talent of Wileman, and how he and the girls managed to produce a very complete song, rich of sounds and colors.

"Sparks that Flash and Fall?" is the longest composition of this album, a delicious and challenging piece that starts with a dark atmosphere, but seconds later a church organ appears just in order to give pass to acoustic guitar and some wind instruments, there is a creepy atmosphere because in moments sounds calm and tranquil but in others dark and tense, there are several short but equally important changes, even a curious silence at the half of the song. Magical moments can be experienced here.

And the album finishes with "Thoughts and Silences", a short composition after the longest track, beautiful musical harmony which is filled by a kind of a "goodbye" mood, the end of this extraordinary album.

Eve is actually one of those albums that always move me, that always provoke something on me no matter where or how am I, my ears and mind always welcome this kind of music. To be honest this is not that kind of progressive rock one might expect, but if you have the chance, please listen to this gem. Five stars.

Enjoy it!

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Karda Estra is a cinematic collection of talented musicians, offering a buffet of instrumental variety, beautiful textures, and evocative arrangements. Lighthearted darkness- a paradox, to be sure- comes forth from the blending of these people. There is not an ounce of rock music to be found on this album, but what is present is far superior to the sleepy, New Age nonsense that so many acts classified as symphonic rock manufacture. All in all, Karda Estra is a remarkably fanciful album, although not quite as powerful as the first album I heard by them, the harrowingly terrific Weird Tales.

"An Ordinary Mortal" Ethereal strings and feminine vocals create a ghostly texture of sound.

"Andraiad" Dark melancholy envelops the listener, as acoustic guitar and a sad woodwind lead into alternately thicker and airier passages that whisk the listener away on a nightly journey.

"The Pale Ray" Eerie music springs forth in a bright way- I love the haunting vocals and the way a lively passage can quickly become sinister.

"Super Electrical" One would be tempted to complain at this point- a little more of the same- and one would be justified in saying so despite the occasional heavy percussion here.

"Eve" While I don't care for the trashcan-like drums, the title track produces a lovely waltz with gorgeous organ in the distance, layers of strings, and beautiful wind instruments. Overall, the piece makes me think of an orchestral vision of Genesis (featuring Mike Oldfield).

"Sparks That Flash and Fall" Large organ opens up and gives the music away to more melodiously gentle work. The acoustic guitar features a wee bit more prominently on this one, and while there are heavier moments, gentle orchestral music is the main ingredient.

"Thoughts and Silences" A final piece, almost a mild epilogue to summarize all the preceding music, concludes this fine display of excellent musicianship and care.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars I am not sure how many years I have been writing about Richard Wileman, more than either he or I would like to admit. From Lives & Times to Karda Estra I have always felt an affinity with his work and this album is no different. As Karda Estra he has brought in much more classical styles and haunting visual imagery, using Ileesha Bailey's vocals as another musical instrument.

The use of woodwind and violins as lead musical instruments is a powerful tool when placed against a sparse background, and while the music can never be said to be over the top he does manage to convey some real menace during "The Pale Ray". Seven songs yet again proves to my mind that Richard is one of our finest prog musicians who has now moved over to 'the other side' and should now be thought of as a classical composer who just happens to use electric instruments from time to time.

A haunting powerful album, that is gentle and background yet also hard and dynamic.

Originally appeared in Feedback #64, Dec 01

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Entering the millenium Richard Wileman and Karda Estra would built a long collaboration with the Cyclops label.Moreover in their next album a strengthened string section would be displayed with the addition of Helen Dearnley on violin.''Eve'' would be released in 2001, being a concept work, drawing inspiration from Villiers de L'Isle Adam's novel ''The future Eve'', written in 1886.

Karda Estra's sound would remain laid-back and extremely cinematic like Soundtrack Music, but this time it is definitely more focused, well-composed and bursting some sheer beauty, based on Classical instruments.''Eve'' is characterized by its intense atmospheres, ethereal soundscapes and calm flow, which is based on grandiose piano lines, string arrangements and wind instruments with little contribution from other instruments.Quite often these atmospheric pieces are showered with marvelous wordless female chants and the presence of smooth acoustic guitars.It kind of reminds me of THE ENID during their most Classical nature in abscence of rock instrumentation.Towards the end Wilemann appears to upgrade its style with the display of a church organ and percussions, but nonetheless the music is still led by the grandiose, orchestral arrangements and the acoustic breaks.Extremely atmospheric material, which can be listened on specific occasions.I still insist that this would be even better with the discreet use of electric instruments at moments.Even so, most of the tracks contain an inner power of their own, based on Wilemann's talent to create dreamy, cinematic textures.

For the first time I think that Karda Estra are following the right way.Not really suitable for die-hard Rock fans, but a serious listening for all lovers of cinematic music.Recommended.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The term "Progressive Rock" is far too limiting for the UK based Karda Estra. Their latest album entitled "Eve" is an album firmly rooted in the classical/chamber music genre, yet encapsulates all that was wonderful about the 70's progressive rock scene. Karda Estra is essentially a one man pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#18433) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is beautiful stuff that demands concentration. On first listen it can slide past too easily and seem a little bland. Once you're into it however the subtlety of the writing and playing becomes very clear and what seemed at first a "pleasant listen" becomes quite dark and brooding as befits the ... (read more)

Report this review (#18432) | Posted by Silk | Saturday, February 7, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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