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Kalin Tonev

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Kalin Tonev Machine Years album cover
3.75 | 15 ratings | 7 reviews | 13% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2017

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Human Not Machine (5:32)
2. Short Story About Tanks (5:19)
3. The Shortcut (4:09)
4. Beings (6:55)
5. Dust (4:35)
6. Mad Dancer (7:02)
7. Late Again (3:44)
8. Human Not Machine II (3:13)
9. News From Nowhere (7:57)
10.Step 4 (4:17)
11.Garden (2:15)
12.This Empty Space (7:19)
13.Later Than Usual (2:46)

Total Time 63:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Kalin Tonev / keys, samples, programming
-Nenko Milev / guitars on 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,12,13
- Daniel Eliseev / guitars on 4,5
- Biser Ivanov / guitar solo and riffs on 9

Releases information

Digital self-released, January 27, 2017.

Thanks to rdtprog for the addition
and to rdtprog for the last updates
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KALIN TONEV Machine Years ratings distribution

(15 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (47%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

KALIN TONEV Machine Years reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars Kalin Tonev is not a newcomer to the music industry being in many bands. He was the leader of Travelhouse who did a very good album of fusion prog with electronic soundscapes, metal, and jazz. "Machines Years" is his new project of instrumental prog with guitarist Nenko Milev on most of the tracks. Kalin is handling the keyboards and the drums programming. The songs have many hooks and solid melodies dominated by some synths and vintage keyboards. The sound of his synths are sometimes spacey and sometimes more heavy in the Derek Sherinian and Jason Rubenstein styles. The song "Dust" is one of two quiet songs with some beautiful ambient atmosphere and fine guitar playing. "Mad Dance" bring the ELP type of sounds before getting in a heavier mode. If prog is not popular in Bulgaria, you can count to Kalin Tonev to help gives to this genre more recognition, because this is some high-quality music to check out.
Review by Rivertree
4 stars I'm sure it's okay to notice, that Bulgaria is not really the center of prog when it comes to Eastern Europe. There are many more genre bands coming from Hungary, Czech Republic respectively Slovakia ... and of course Poland most notably. So much the more it's a pleasure for me to introduce KALIN TONEV again, certainly an important figure in his country concerning this genre. So for example he drives an acclaimed radio prog rock show, which is part of the Bulgarian National Radio programme. And he had appearances in more than 20 bands in the meanwhile while being underway in many different styles.

Kalin is already known to me due to the fact that he has been the mastermind of the band TravelHouse some years ago. They released one album under this moniker in 2008, called 'Mindmapping', which is mirroring a quite diverse stylistical journey. Now 'Machine Years' sounds ... different, yeah, unique. A powerful statement most likely, and heavily keyboard-laden. Although supported by three guitarists on nearly all the 13 tracks, this album can be seen as a solo effort with reason, as he is responsible for the song writing as well as production and substitutes the regular bass and percussions. I'm quite sure, that the drum programming as such emerged into a great challenge, caused time. The implementation is tricky overall, not easy to recognize that an acoustic drum set won't play a role here.

The album is an instrumental one, opens with a speech sample anyhow. I would say immediately pointing to its main philosophical theme, as Kalin is obviously dealing with the relationship of humans and machines in general. Both Human Not Machine parts are heavy in execution, featuring a bombast feel, somewhat representative for the album's flow, surely a centerpiece. Furthermore, just emphasizing Beings or Dust for example, you can't deny a strong symphonic essence too. And then again This Empty Space and Late Again are drifting into a more spacey and even downbeat/lounge orientation.

Released in January 2017 KALIN TONEV offers an enjoyable album with 'Machine Years'. I can hear glimpses of Atomic Rooster, ELP, Rick Wakeman ... one or two may detect other influences of course. Initially this sounded a bit single-tracked to me, in the meanwhile though I'm effectively convinced. And this is not least the merit of the collaborating guitarists too, which means Nenko Milev first and foremost. It's worth it to take your time in order to bring this songs into effect really.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars

Kalin is a "new" musician to me, but he has been involved in the progressive scene in his native Bulgaria for some years, both in bands and by running a regular radio show. What we have here is an instrumental album, with Kalin providing keyboards and drum programming, and then he has been joined by three different guitarists. But, it must be said that this doesn't sound like a solo project, but much more like a band. Kalin relishes in a filthy keyboard sound, providing chords and passages that wouldn't sound out of place on a Keith Emerson album, if Keith was in his darkest and foulest mood as opposed to his honky-tonk sideshows. The best way I can think of putting it, is that if Chris Squire played keyboards instead of bass then he would have a sound like this.

Although there is a darkness to this album, it is complimented by plenty of light and brightness and is full of invention and dynamics. There are very little "Look at me and see how quickly I can play" moments, but rather this is an incredibly well-arranged album where there are times that he links into the guitar as if it is Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore, or Ken Hensley and Mick Box. This isn't a keyboard solo album, but a progressive rock album with plenty of guts and balls, where the lead instrument is often (but not always) the keyboards. Now I've heard this it has got me wondering what his "real" band albums are like, and when we're going to get the next solo release. But for now, I'll just keep playing and enjoying the wonderful album that is 'Machine Years'.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. Kalin Tonev is a keyboard player out of Bulgaria and this is his first solo album after being in a band called TRAVELHOUSE that is on this site as well. When I think of Bulgaria I can't help of the Prog-Metal band PATOMMIND from that country because they really impressed me, especially their amazing debut. This particular album has a lot of programming in it, so we do get real keyboards and a variety of them at that plus there's three guitarists splitting that duty on this album. The drums aren't real and I'm not sure about the bass but no one is credited with playing it so I assume it's programmed as well.

I do like how heavy this can get but my favourite track is "Dust" one of the mellow tunes, but man the emotion on that one has me asking for more. This is an all instrumental album that reaches pretty high at times but it's not without it's so-so songs too, hence the 3.5 stars. Plus I have so many instrumental albums that blow this one away(just saying).

"Human Not Machine" is a great way to start the album and it opens with sampled words as drums and organ kick in. A calm around 2 minutes then it kicks in again to a higher tempo with guitar playing over top. Organ then leads then synths before it settles back. The synths a minute in recall GENESIS believe it or not. "Short Story About Tanks" has a nice heavy groove to it before a spacey calm takes over. It kicks back in hard just before 2 1/2 minutes then another spacey calm arrives.

"The Short Cut" is an uptempo track with plenty of synths. This is one I haven't liked from the first listen though for some reason. "Beings" has some heavy keyboard sounds and it will continue throughout. Guitar comes in over top mid-way through then it settles late as it winds down. "Dust" is my favourite. Again it's the emotion I feel which is lacking elsewhere. A beautiful tune.

"Man Dancer" opens with electronics which I understand Kalin's other band TRAVELHOUSE uses quite a bit. It kicks into gear a minute in and organ will rise to the top along with synths. It turns heavier before 5 minutes. "Late Again" has a deep groove to it then a spacey calm arrives after a minute. The groove is back a minute later. "Human Not Machine II" is more of the same but I like the calm a minute in although it's brief.

"News From Nowhere" is one I'm not into because of the style of synths at times but but I do like the heaviness and guitar that starts before 4 minutes. "Step 4" is heavy once again with lots of depth. Catchy stuff. "Garden" is mellow with atmosphere, a beat, keys and bass. "This Empty Space" opens with percussion as the heavy organ joins in. It settles back with percussion and atmosphere before kicking back in again. "Later Than Usual" has a catchy and heavy riff which is contrasted with mellow sections led by synths.

A good album as the other reviews will attest to, just not something I'm looking forward to spinning again. It would be awesome if Kalin put a real band together, that I would look forward to.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
4 stars "Machine Years" is a Heavy Prog instrumental 2017 album from Bulgaria from the multi instrumentalist Kalin Tonev. He is joined by guitarists Nenko Milev, Daniel Eliseev and Biser Ivanov. The album has some striking music that is powered by glorious Hammond organ and strong rhythms throughout. The music is always dynamic and explorative with some infectious hooks that ocasionally wander into ELP or 70s Genesis territory. I am particulary enamoured by the riffs in The Shortcut, that are a throwback to classic 70s rock with some odd percussion thrown in.

Human Not Machine has a heavy guitar driving it with a seriously vicious Hammond sound, followed by a lengthy Minimoog solo; a grand opener. Short Story About Tanks is a keyboard workout par excellence, with layers of bass synth lines and haunting violin pads. An industrial distorted guitar blasts through and more lightning fast keyboard solos. Beings is a synth soaked paradise, with a wash of vibrating Hammond passages. The music has a symphonic quality and is one of the more beautiful melancholy tracks. The lengthy track has an exploratory feel taking us on a journey that has an emotional ethereal atmosphere.

Dust features some haunting synth sounds and beautiful acoustic guitars. The shimering synths are delightful and a wall of keyboards light up the musicsphere. The track is gloriously spacey and so wondrous; one of the definitive highlights.

Mad Dancer opens with electronic effects, strikingly different from the other tracks. The heavy guitar riff that locks in is fabulous with a vintage feel, and then the keyboards dominate as lead instruments. The cool rhythm is fast paced and exciting, and how good are those multi layered synths! This features some of the heavier guitars and really powerful keyboard workouts that soar and descend until it culminates in a gentle vibrating synth-charged atmosphere. Cathedral organ closes this masterful piece.

Late Again is glistening Hammond to the walls grinding with a ferocity until a guitar riff becomes the centrepiece. Hammond staccato stabs jab at the guitar and then it cascades into a spacey outer worldy feel. The bassline is delightful and it moves into some swing rhythms and very retro synth lines.

Human Not Machine II has a steady tempo and Hammond crunches until the fractured melody enters. A symphonic vibe breaks through, and very catchy guitar hooks. The Hammond sound is pure filth as it blasts over the layers of off kilter percussion and synth pads. This is one of the more progressive tracks as far as structure is concerned.

News From Nowhere is the longest piece clocking in at 8 minutes. The Hammond is again omnipresent, and it shimmers with proud relish over the waves of guitars and percussion. A synth solo takes over. Soon a chunky guitar riff with a distorted sound bashes its way through all the keyboards. It is the heaviest section so far, metallic and aggressive, and it gives the music an exciting edge. More synths sparkle over and the tempo switches to a 7/8 feel and a guitar solo follows. The ending is like A Space Odyssey soundtrack; so mesmirising to my ears.

Step 4 blows the cobwebs out with a fiery rhythm; splattered with a Hammond foundation. Garden is a short piece, very pastoral and tranquil. The peaceful atmosphere is striking after the heavier tracks. It allows our ears to calm down into a restful state but one suspects it will be short lived. It makes a nice interlude away from the chaos and overpowering Hammond.

This Empty Space actually features real NASA sound bytes. It is spacey and ethereal, with synth reverberations and African rhythms. The Hammond beast returns like a lion from its cage, and then a pounding drum beat ensues. The synth strings have that Vangelis "Blade Runner" sound and it ends witha NASA byte; "Godspeed" says the astronaut.

Later Than Usual is another short piece to close the album. It has a heavy distorted guitar and synths slice through carving up the atmosphere. This whole album is hypnotic and really captures a very distinct style with powerhouse keyboard playing and some downright infectious riffs.

This bold debut album by Kalin Tonev is a dynamic atmospheric instrumental journey that really struck me for its diversity in heavy guitars and Hammond stabs, through to synthesizer flourishes and a driving rhythm section. The sound generated is at times organic, spacey and symphonic, at other times jarring and fractured. Each track has its own atmosphere and keeps the ear intrigued. It is inventive, complex and innovative, exploring musical styles with passion and vitality. For this reason I can recommend "Machine Years" as one of the better debuts in recent years.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Kalin Tonev, one of the wonders of keyboars from eastern Europe, more precise from Sofia- Bulgaria, released his debut in 2017 Machine years. Well, being unaware of his music previous this album, I must saying I really like what I've heared here. This is a feast of keyboards going on all territories of instrumental keyboard driving prog, from almost prog metal to more electronic , even some jazzy parts are to be found, but Kalin done all arrangements with taste and is not a boring moment here. He done everything is to be heared here, with helping hands from guitarists Nenko Milev, Daniel Eliseev and Biser Ivanov who bring almost a prog metal atmosphere on some pieces. Aswell there are some symphonic touches who ease a bit the album something between Derek Sherinian, maybe Bob Katsionis, or some old school bands who are more orintated towards keyboards then on guitar. Some highliths for me, Short Story About Tanks, The shortcut, Dust or Mad Dancer, specially the first half of the album is to me better and more intresting then the rest. All in all more then decent release who put on the map again Bulgaria, being for far to many years just a shadow in prog world, only bands as FSB from old school or for more recent years the excellent prog metal band Pantommind being little more known in Europe. 3 stars maybe 3.5 in places a nice one, like the art work in a way.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Having previously been the main force behind Bulgarian instrumental prog outfit TravelHouse, keyboardist Kalin Tonev recorded Machine Years as his first solo album, which I find to be a very impressive effort. Machine Years is an instrumental prog album, the only vocals present being in the for ... (read more)

Report this review (#1724727) | Posted by Replayer | Sunday, May 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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