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Karfagen Birds of Passage album cover
3.93 | 260 ratings | 16 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Birds of Passage, Part 1 (22:40) :
- 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) :
- a) Eternity's Sun Rise
- b) Echoing Green
- c) Showers from the Clouds of Summer
- d) Tears from the Eyelids Start, Part 2

Bonus tracks:
3. Spring (Birds Delight) (4:34)
4. Sunrise (5:23)
5. Birds (short introduction) (3:19) - not on CD

Total Time 57:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Antony Kalugin / keyboards, vocals, percussion, composer & arranger, programming & mixing, co-producer

- Tim Sobolev / vocals
- Olha Rostovska / vocals
- Mathieu Spaeter / guitar
- Aleksandr Pavlov / nylon guitar
- Maria Baranovska / violin
- Alexandr Pastuchov / bassoon
- Elena Kushniy / flute
- Konstantin Ionenko / bass
- Viktor Syrotin / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Igor Sokolskiy

CD Caerllysi Music ‎- CM20021 (January 3, 2020, UK)

Digital album

Thanks to TCat for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy KARFAGEN Birds of Passage Music

KARFAGEN Birds of Passage ratings distribution

(260 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

KARFAGEN Birds of Passage reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by Matti
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.

Review by 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.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars Well it wouldn't be a new year without another album by this prolific band from Ukraine, that being Karfagen. However, since the 2023 albums are a continuation (or so I have heard) of their 2020 release of Birds of Passage, I thought to, instead of listening and reviewing the most recent endeavors of Antony Kalugin's passion project, I would instead review something that happened a little earlier.

Whilst many might consider this work to be somewhat of a prog by numbers ordeal, which isn't too surprising since a lot of retro prog is kinda like that, I think Karfagen does create a unique enough job to warrant some attention and love, with the band using their music less to tell a certain tale or message like other prog bands, but more as a drive for Antony's expansion of sound, which think gives this whole project a little extra charm, as from his past works to here, you can really tell how he improved throughout it all.

This album is essentially one big song, being split up into two 20+ minute movements, much like Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick or Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy, though there is also some bonus material too to work with.

For starters on this full coarse prog meal, the big epic of Birds of Passage is some high class prog rock fun. I personally love the first part the most, on how it builds, and how jovial it all is and remains throughout. I really love the synths on this track, they work really greatly with the guitars and drums. They kinda have this 80s neo prog energy to them sometimes, which I think works really well with what Antony is going for here. I also like the second part too, being a bit more calm, but still equally fun and bombastic from the first part, though I think the first part of this track has the stronger ending.

While I do not quite care for bonus tracks, I think Karfagen is a band where the bonus tracks are pretty indistinguishable from the full albums to where they are practically a part of the standard track listing. The tracks on here of Spring, Sunrise, and Birds Short Introduction are fine. I find the best out of these three to be Spring as I think it to be a pretty good and focused track all around, utilizing the sounds found on the two big songs into something a bit more bitesize. For the other two, I think Sunrise is alright, it is a fine kinda ambient track from all the progginess going on, but Birds Short Introduction is kinda unnecessary since you already listened to the two big epics that this intro is apart of, I just find it to be needless, though it isn't on the cd releases, which I think tells me more about that track than anything else. Either way, despite my thoughts on 2 / 3 of the tracks here, I think the bonus material is neat, and at times, really good.

I think that Birds of Passage achieves a great amount of stuff in the prog ring, though I think most would simply listen to the album for the big tracks and nothing more, but even then the big tracks on here make up a really great 40+ minutes of your time. I think if you like the more pastoral side of modern prog that groups like The Flower Kings and modern day Kaipa create, plus a bit of that cool and crisp energy of old school neo prog groups in the 80s had, I definitely suggest checking this out. This may not be the best Karfagen release, but if someone asked me what album they should check out first to get into Karfagen, I'd give them this.

Latest members reviews

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 myse ... (read more)

Report this review (#2534865) | Posted by MundoReviews | Monday, April 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 br ... (read more)

Report this review (#2530275) | Posted by DiogenesC9 | Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 emoti ... (read more)

Report this review (#2450447) | Posted by BlazingProg | Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 Willi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2431835) | Posted by alainPP | Friday, July 24, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 MIk ... (read more)

Report this review (#2338161) | Posted by Booba Kastorsky | Monday, February 24, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2316209) | Posted by Drmick1971 | Friday, February 14, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2309614) | Posted by GarfunkelSi | Sunday, January 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2308891) | Posted by Thomas Stith | Friday, January 24, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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" o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2308656) | Posted by ale73 | Thursday, January 23, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2307057) | Posted by Yeshead58 | Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 e ... (read more)

Report this review (#2306498) | Posted by MalenaRoss | Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2306130) | Posted by Trinity S | Sunday, January 12, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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