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KARDA ESTRA

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Karda Estra biography
The older I get, the more easily I'm surprised with new bands, KARDA ESTRA is an very competent group of British musicians who from from the late 90's to the date, create music that combines the dark spirit of the Eastern Europe ethnic sound (present in the use of Bazouki and Rastrophone) with the skills of the most pristine Symphonic Prog you can imagine expressed in complex and well developed orchestral arrangements that create an atmosphere of mystery and obscurity enhanced by the haunting chorals.

KARDA ESTRA is the brainchild of the multi instrumentalist and composer Richard Willeman who is obviously obsessed with the 1800's Gothic Revival and created this Neo Classical - Progressive project to exploit that dark mood that most Progressive Rock followers love so much.

Their main inspiration is so wide that goes from Romanian music from the Carpathian Mountains to Steve Hackett with who he shares that obsession for obscurity.

Since their debut, KARDA ESTRA constant members are Richard Willeman (classical, electric and bass guitars, keyboards, percussion, bouzouki, rastrophone and other exotic instruments), the weird and sometimes scary voice of Illesha Bailey, Rachel Larkins (viola, violin) and Zoe King (flute, alto saxophone and oboe) but always has counted with other excellent musicians to complete the band like Caron Hansford who plays oboe, cor anglais and bassoon, a luxury team.

The main theme in his albums is terror and reaches it's peak with "Eve" based in The Future Eve, written in 1886 by Villiers de L'Isle Adam about a scientist who creates a fiancée for his fiend Lord Ewald (2001) and Voivode Dracula of course based in the novel by Bram Stocker.

Didn't had the chance to listen their latest album "The Age Of Science And Enlightenment" released a few months ago but it0's one of the first thing I'm going to do in the next few days.

Symphonic nuts will love this band.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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Mondo Profondo / New WorldsMondo Profondo / New Worlds
Import
Believers Roast
Audio CD$14.00
Alternate HistoryAlternate History
Import
Cyclops Records 2008
Audio CD$10.00
$2.98 (used)
ConstellationsConstellations
Import
Cyclops Records 2003
Audio CD$14.00
$4.99 (used)
Time & StarsTime & Stars
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$11.65
$11.64 (used)
Strange RelationsStrange Relations
Import
Believers Roast 2015
Audio CD$14.00
$39.66 (used)
Voivode Dracula by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)Voivode Dracula by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)
Cyclops
Audio CD$14.00
The Age of Science and Enlightenment by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)The Age of Science and Enlightenment by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)
Cyclops
Audio CD$14.00
The Last of the Libertine by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)The Last of the Libertine by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)
Cyclops
Audio CD$14.00
Alternate History by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)Alternate History by Karda Estra (2008-01-18)
Cyclops Records
Audio CD$14.00
Constellations by Karda EstraConstellations by Karda Estra
Cyclops
Audio CD$14.00
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KARDA ESTRA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KARDA ESTRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 10 ratings
A Winter In Summertime
1998
3.06 | 9 ratings
Thirteen From The Twenty First
2000
3.91 | 30 ratings
Eve
2001
1.68 | 9 ratings
Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium
2002
4.12 | 38 ratings
Constellations
2003
3.94 | 18 ratings
Voivode Dracula
2004
3.95 | 22 ratings
The Age Of Science And Enlightenment
2006
3.95 | 24 ratings
The Last Of The Libertine
2007
3.97 | 24 ratings
Weird Tales
2009
3.29 | 21 ratings
New Worlds
2011
3.66 | 13 ratings
Mondo Profondo
2013
3.86 | 18 ratings
Strange Relations
2015
3.93 | 5 ratings
Time And Stars
2016
5.00 | 1 ratings
Infernal Spheres
2017

KARDA ESTRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KARDA ESTRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

KARDA ESTRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Land Of Ghosts Vol. 1
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Land Of Ghosts Vol. 2
2002
3.96 | 7 ratings
Alternate History
2004
4.00 | 1 ratings
Download
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
An Introduction to Karda Estra
2012

KARDA ESTRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 3 ratings
The Land Of Ghosts 3
2012
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Seas and the Stars
2015
4.91 | 3 ratings
Future Sounds
2015
5.00 | 1 ratings
Yondo
2015

KARDA ESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Infernal Spheres by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Infernal Spheres
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars Richard is back with his fourteenth album, and I made the mistake of playing this in the car the very first time I listened to it, and only realised afterwards that I had driven more than sixty kilometres with no real recollection of having done so! When Richard is in his comfort zone of mixing and melding classical musical soundscapes with progressive overtones, then there really is no-one else who can match him. I defy anyone to listen to "Obelisk of Cruithine" and not been drawn into a labyrinthine world of melodies, dissonance, simplicity and complexity that defies description, yet makes complete musical sense always. How Richard manages to understand exactly what notes he needs where, and which instruments are to be used to play them, is just beyond me. Apart from Helen Dearnley providing violin, this song, amazingly, is one where he provides virtually all the instruments himself (he lists himself as providing acoustic, classical, electric, bass and prepared guitars, keyboards, samples, percussion, rastrophone, bouzouki, Appalachian dulcimer and zither on this album).

Yet he brings in guests on bass clarinet, oboe, cor anglais, violin, clarinet, tenor sax, bass trombone, tenor trombone and trumpet where he feels the need. There are also drums, but only one two songs, while Ileesha provides her amazing wordless vocals to just three numbers this time. I have known Richard for more than twenty years now, and I have yet to hear anyone else achieve what he manages with Karda Estra. He still surprises me in so many ways, as he moves so many different styles, yet all with a common theme of being visual: I always "See" his music as well as hearing it. It may be his fourteenth album but he shows no signs at all, of slowing down, and I actually think this is his finest yet.

 Strange Relations by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.86 | 18 ratings

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Strange Relations
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars 2015's 'Strange Relations' was the eleventh album to be released by Richard under the Karda Estra banner, and although it is still recognisable as such, there is a much larger jazz element contained than normal. This is because the first six (of eight) tracks were a partnership between Richard and drummer Paul Sears (The Muffins). Given that it's not unusual for drums to hardly feature at all in Richard's work, having a jazz drummer involved is bound to give a very different feel to proceedings. This time around Richard uses electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitars, keyboards, samples, percussion, zither and rastrophone while Caron de Burgh provides oboe on three songs and cor anglais on two, Amy Fry clarinet on three and sax on three, Mike Ostime trumpet on one, Kavus Torabi (Knifeworld) electric guitar on a song while of course Ileesha Wileman provides her delicate wordless vocals on a couple as well.

There are times when the drums do really add something to the overall sound, there are others where I felt that they were too intrusive, and that the music would have benefited from less of them. The structure of Richard's music is often classical in approach, and this style doesn't always marry well with a drummer, and that is sometimes the case here. But, there are times, such as on 'Strange Relations 6', where they come together in a manner that is perfect and the differing styles blend and create something very special indeed. Although I would hesitate to recommend this as a starting point for Karda Estra, it is still a very fine release indeed and an interesting addition to his canon.

 Future Sounds by KARDA ESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.91 | 3 ratings

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Future Sounds
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars This was the second EP released by Richard Wileman in 2015, following on from 'The Sea and the Stars'. Ileesha features with her wonderful haunting vocals on one number, clarinetist Amy Fry appears on two and drummer Paul Sears on another, but for the most part this six song album is just Richard and whatever instrument he believes is right for the moment. I have long said that Richard is one of our greatest modern classical composers, with more than a hint of film music about what he does, and this is even more cinematic than normal. There is an incredible amount of space within the music, and a haunting ethereal edge that reminds me a lot of some of Roger Eno's work. It is deeply compelling, and is a world where the dominant instrument is a slightly phased poignant electric guitar that is both beautiful and disturbing at the same time. As always with Karda Estra, this is music that really does benefit from being played on headphones: it is important to pay full attention to what is being played, as only then will the listener fully understand the complex yet simplistic world.

I can imagine being lost in space, wondering at the majesty of the stars, with this being played as the backdrop, Cinematic, enthralling, beguiling, beautiful Karda Estra.

 Time And Stars by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.93 | 5 ratings

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Time And Stars
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by Neil C

4 stars The music of Karda Estra, the brainchild of composer Richard Wileman, has a unique aesthetic; Dark, gloomy, shadowy and gothic, it is nevertheless also pretty at times, rich in texture and detail, and full of filmic atmosphere.

The new album, "Time and Stars", is slightly unusual for the group as it includes some "songs", and when I say songs I mean instrumental pieces with sung text. That said, the timbral and harmonic approach taken on the album is entirely in keeping with the rest of their impressive and darkly entertaining canon of work and the 'vocals with text' are merely a successful new component, adding to the customary sumptuous textures of acoustic guitars, electric pianos and mallet instruments, unusual uncanny atmospheres/chord progressions, lyrical woodwind passages and spellbinding choral passages.

A longing sadness and sense of foreboding pervades tracks such as the evocative "Lighthouse" and "Andromeda Approaches", the latter's lead vocal and shimmering acoustic/12 string guitar texture sharing something with Steve Hackett's "Shadow of the Heirophant" from his classic "Voyage of the Acolyte" album. (Steve Hackett is, I know, an artist with whom Richard feels a strong affinity).

Elsewhere across the album one hears atonal figures flung like constellations into arrangements with complex tonal harmonic palettes and moments of sinister 'chain-rattling' and crunching earth interspersed with periods of uneasy repose.

"Time and Stars", as with much of the group's work, is hard to classify as 'rock' as there is so little 'rocking out'. Rhythmically, harmonically and melodically more refined than most "Prog" there are only a few drums and heavy electric guitar moments here ? the track "Niall" being an isolated example. In fact to me this music perhaps has more in common with the psychedelic '60's soundtrack worlds of David Axelrod, Ennio Morricone or even the Swedish composer Bo Hansson than it does with say Yes or King Crimson, though in its acoustic moments there is more than a hint of Hackett-era Genesis. On this album I also thought I discerned chord sequences that reminded me of the music of the brilliant French band Magma ? I'd be delighted to find out if there was a connection or influence or if that was just mere coincidence.

All said, it is really difficult to find precedents or clear influences for the band's truly creative music which really does stand alone (across all their albums) as a very singular and very accomplished musical vision. Whilst possibly too 'low-key' for some listener,s the work is composed and produced with supreme musicality, distinctiveness, detail and care.

This album is the latest in a prolific series of impressive musical achievements.

 Eve by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.91 | 30 ratings

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Eve
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by poito

1 stars I came to this band attracted by their climbing to the front of Artists in the Progarch web, checked this album that has the highest rating and'nothing. Boring, that says it all. This album lacks interest. The music is dull, with no spirit, dim, good only to go to sleep or for elevators and supermarkets. It does not evoke anything'except to friends, it seems. It is totally uninspiring. I do not understand why this is here. It would better fit as orchestral music and not good anyway, but for sure it does not fit Prog of any subgenre. Skip it, you'll miss nothing.
 Constellations by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.12 | 38 ratings

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Constellations
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Fourth year in the row with another album by Karda Estra, talking about 2003 here and Richard Wileman was this time influenced by six constellations, inspired by myths, astronomy and self-personal experiences.Once more the line-up would get an extension, welcoming cellist Sarah Higgins next to the ordinary choir/instrumental female collaborators of Wileman.The album, simply titled ''Constellations'', was the second of the band on Cyclops.

After the disappointing collaboration with Artemiy Artemiev Karda Estra would get back on track with a flavor already served on the ''Eve'' album and with ''Constellations'' Wileman has fully captured the essence of cinematic music.This album contains some incredibly atmospheres well-hidden within its softness and unvealed through the talented backing band of the main man, featuring strings, flute, sax and English horns.Wileman mostly performs on electric guitars and piano with some background keyboards in the process, the result is some really beautiful spacious, sentimental and Film-related arrangements with romantic preludes and interludes, light acoustic textures, orchestral overtones and a few progressive colors in the vein of STEVE HACKETT, ANTHONY PHILLIPS or GORDON GLITRAP.Ileesha Bailey's angelic, calm voice is just superb and comes as the perfect fit for the relaxed atmosphere of the album.Once more Wileman has avoided to add dynamics, apparently believing that the whole majesty of his music is released via his ethereal, elegant and very gentle arrangements.The scenario talks about six constellations, but the album contains seven tracks, the farewell one actually being a cover on STEVE HACKETT's ''Twice around the sun'' from the ''Darktown'' album, succesful choice that comes as a nice closer to a similar-sounding effort.

Cinematic, orchestral seminal Rock.Alternation between soft acoustic and electric guitars, piano and orchestral instruments, providing some lovely soundscapes.Again, not a work for Kraut Rock fans to say, but for all those admiring the acoustics of cinematic explorations.

 Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2002
1.68 | 9 ratings

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Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

1 stars Next work for Karda Estra would to work with young Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev, who focused on the fields of Experimental Music and Ambient.Richard Wileman recruited Ileesha Bailey on vocals and Caron Hansford on oboe and cor anglais for this work, recording his parts at the band's Twenty First Studio.Artemiev, who was responsible for the various effects and electronics on the album, recorded his own music sections at the studio of the Electroshock label in Moscow.All recordings took place during the second half of 2001.As Artemiev was under contract with Electroshock Records, the album, titled ''Equilibrium'', was released on the Russian label in 2002.

Karda Estra's music has been always dark and cinematic, but we are talking about a different thing here.This should be regarded more of an Artemiy Artemiev solo effort with Karda Estra executing on the musical background of the Russian composer, because ''Equilibrium'' is quite close to the fundamentals of Electronic/Ambient Music than any releases of Karda Estra.Extremely hypnotic and at times experimental stuff, which often escapes from the principles of music to become an odd palette of obscure noises and sound effects.Consider this closer to an ambient Minimalism, suitable only for background music or Film Scores.Music structures are rather absent and the album is based on electronic soundscapes and isolated instrumental beats, lacking any kind of energy or even decent executions, only PINK FLOYD have performed in such a manner in the past and moreover the British group only used splashes of Ambient Music in its releases.Try to get through these 10+ min. experimental textures and if you succeeed, you will definitely win the prize of the most patient listener.I can hear echoes of Industrial and Classical Music as well, but the result is very boring, abstract and narcotic to my ears.

This is not a Progressive Rock album.Both words are absent from this release.It's a work filled with experimental, highly ambiental soundscapes, that tend to be extremely monotonous.Skip this one, unless you liked any of the above descriptions you've just read.

 Mondo Profondo by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.66 | 13 ratings

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Mondo Profondo
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Led by the British musician and composer Richard Willeman, Karda Estra is a group who definitely made an impression on me in terms of a first time exposure. Their latest record, Mondo Profondo most certainly isn't something you stumble upon everyday, as it is an album that is dense in layers, ominous in tone, and magical in mood. "On Those Cloudy Days, " the opener, rolls in some haunting mixes of jazz and chamber music, and the record's subsequent dive into the title track, "Mondo Profondo I," is full of analog goodness and some nice chanted vocals that remind me of a mix between Brazilian jazz and English Cantebury; Karda Estra certain is a musical presence to admire. "The Haunter of the Dark" instantly makes me think gothic horror (honestly, the choice of instruments and atmosphere here is frightening enough to make you soil yourself), while "Chronoclasm" had me imagining a sort of nightmarish version of The Snowgoose. It's not all scary though; there seems to be a big tendency towards Brazilian influences seamlessly merged with chamber music (of which "Radiance" would be a prime example) to create a sound that would seem to fit in a plethora of movie soundtracks. While Mondo Profondo, New Worlds has tons to offer, I found that it's an album that I need to take in chunks. Definitely something different, and while it really does just skirt the edges of prog, good music is still good music
 Eve by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.91 | 30 ratings

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Eve
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

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.

 Mondo Profondo by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.66 | 13 ratings

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Mondo Profondo
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars As I mentioned in my previous Karda Estra review (progarchives.com/Review.asp? id=1025244), last month the band released their last effort Mondo Pronfondo (2013) and as a big bonus their previous album New Worlds (2011) was added to the CD. So I decided to review both albums separately. Here are my thoughts on their Mondo Profondo (2013) album.

Mondo Profondo (2013) began initially as a concept album back in 2006 based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. But Richard Wileman, Karda Estra leader, dropped the project due to the movie that was released in 2007.

The album starts with 'On Those Cloudy Days', which is a very atmospheric piece. In Gothic style. Inspired by the novel I Am Legend Karda Estra used many different sounds to make the whole track work, pretty much like a mini symphony. With the follow up, 'Mondo Profondo I', we have clever synths that were well used. Wileman always uses the acoustic guitar in a smart way and this track shows it. Then the song turns to be a Bossa Nova with many vocals. This seems to be one of Wileman's favorite genres. The track keeps changing with weird interludes, Bossa beat and female vocals (by Ileesha Bailey) all the way.

Reading the booklet's notes you can see that pretty much every track in Mondo Profondo (2013) was inspired by a novel. 'The Happy Breed' is not different. This one is based on the novel The Happy Breed by John Sladek. This one has a bit of the New Worlds (2011) album sound. And it's pretty much the sound that defines Karda Estra for me. It's classical, weird, gothic, atmospheric, chamber music, suspense music and soundtrack music. Do the math and try to get the result.

'Mondo Profondo II' is a big collaboration between Wileman and his musical partners Mohader, Stu, Phil, Kavus and Benjamin. Everybody shared credit and added new bits to the song. In the end, we have in its 8'43 a weird and wonderful piece, a 'travelogue', in Wileman's own words. I couldn't agree more. The album follows with 'The Haunter Of The Dark' that was inspired by a H. P. Lovecraft short story. The track has the mood that a Lovecraft tale needs. This track was originally written to the Colossus/Musea album The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft (2012) and it was reworked for this release. This was a good move cause usually tracks composed for specific collections like this get lost with time. Nothing is better than putting a particular track in a band's own album, especially if it fits with the overall sound in it, and this one does.

'Mondo Profondo III' finishes the album. This track is the original 'Mondo Profondo II' but here it was completely naked down to only the piano chords sequences. It fits well with the rest of the album.

Different from the previous album, New Worlds (2011), Mondo Profondo (2013) seems to be a more polished record when it comes to the compositions and recordings. In the previous one the tracks seemed to be cut in half sometimes. Not here. They seem to be stand-alone compositions with full thick body.

With Mondo Profondo (2013) Karda Estra has a great atmospheric music that should be appreciated with the light off and having thriller/suspense movies in mind.

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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