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KARDA ESTRA

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Karda Estra picture
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

Karda Estra official website

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KARDA ESTRA Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy KARDA ESTRA Music


Time & StarsTime & Stars
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$13.02
$13.01 (used)
ConstellationsConstellations
Import
Cyclops Records 2003
Audio CD$14.00
$23.21 (used)
Infernal SpheresInfernal Spheres
Import
Imports 2017
Audio CD$12.02
$12.01 (used)
Strange RelationsStrange Relations
Import
Believers Roast 2015
Audio CD$14.00
$38.78 (used)
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
Constellations by Karda EstraConstellations by Karda Estra
Cyclops
Audio CD$14.00
Eve by Karda Estra (2001-11-20)Eve by Karda Estra (2001-11-20)
Cyclops
Audio CD$14.00
Strange Relations by Karda EstraStrange Relations by Karda Estra
Believers Roast
Audio CD$46.32
Weird Tales by Karda EstraWeird Tales by Karda Estra
Cyclops Records/Musea Distribution
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)

3.37 | 11 ratings
A Winter In Summertime
1998
3.06 | 9 ratings
Thirteen From The Twenty First
2000
3.91 | 30 ratings
Eve
2001
2.23 | 9 ratings
Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium
2002
4.07 | 43 ratings
Constellations
2003
3.94 | 19 ratings
Voivode Dracula
2004
3.95 | 24 ratings
The Age Of Science And Enlightenment
2006
3.95 | 26 ratings
The Last Of The Libertine
2007
3.99 | 27 ratings
Weird Tales
2009
3.29 | 21 ratings
New Worlds
2011
3.66 | 14 ratings
Mondo Profondo
2013
3.79 | 20 ratings
Strange Relations
2015
3.96 | 41 ratings
Time And Stars
2016
3.77 | 43 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)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Land Of Ghosts Vol. 1
2000
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Land Of Ghosts Vol. 2
2002
4.00 | 9 ratings
Alternate History
2004
4.50 | 2 ratings
Download
2007
4.00 | 1 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 | 2 ratings
The Seas and the Stars
2015
4.91 | 3 ratings
Future Sounds
2015
5.00 | 2 ratings
Yondo
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Richard Wileman: Ghost
2017

KARDA ESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Infernal Spheres by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.77 | 43 ratings

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Infernal Spheres
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Richard Wileman has returned to some of the simpler soundscapes and melodic structures of his early work. Richard's wife and long-time collaborator, Ileesha (née Bailey) is present but used rather sparingly. The album seems to have songs representing all of Richard's moods and eras in his illustrious evolution.

1. "Prelude To A Dark Vortex" (1:52) gorgeous opener in church-like bombastics with lots of minor chords and atmospherics. So regal! (9.5/10)

2. "The Fermi Paradox" (3:19) awesome song with Paul Sears' perfectly fitting drumming. Great chord progressions and cool off-beat bass play. My favorite song on the album. (10/10)

3. "Ceres" (1:36) minor Spanish-style guitar-based song with the gorgeous oboe play of long-time collaborator Caron De Burgh. Another gem. (9.5/10)

4. "Obelisk Of Cruithne" (6:46) is a return to darker times. Mostly a solo affair, Richard uses some very odd sounds and sound combinations to keep the listener on edge. Dissonance and melodrama with little or no melody. (8/10)

5. "Anatomy Of The Heavens" (4:48) gorgeously nostalgic. Piano and clarinet shine. Haunting melodies. Problem is that it doesn't go anywhere; it's an awfully long song for such sustained simplicity. (9/10)

6. "Solar Riviera" (6:42) nice soundtrack music. Very French. The eerie "saw" synth in the background is a cool touch. The two brief interlude/breaks are also a nice touch before the transition to different sounds and drumming. I like the 'thickening' of the musical soundscape in the fourth and fifth minutes and the horns in the final third. (9/10)

7. "Legacy Of Theia" (4:21) It's so nice to hear Ileesha's voice! A gorgeous acoustic guitar-based song with, again, all kinds of unusual sounds and textures combining to convey the 'story'. The tinny percussion-like keyboard sounds are my favorites--and there are a lot of them here. Interesting fade/outro. (9/10)

8. "Kklak!" (3:45) pure dissonance and questionable substance. (7/10)

9. "Free Fall On Tyche" (4:51) back to some of the Burt Bacharach-like sounds that we heard on 2013's Mondo Profondo. Ileesha's vocalizations are, of course, the highlight of the song--with the horns. So nice to hear the full horn and woodwinds interacting. The bass guitar is a little monotonous but overall, this is a nice song. (9/10)

10. "Nemesis" (5:35) bass clarinet and percussion alternating with a chorus of Ileesha and organ. Interesting and often surprising but also hypnotic. (9/10)

Definitely my favorite album of KE's from this decade, despite the stylistic eclecticism and the lack of (enough) of Ileesha's wonderful vocals. A four-plus star album that I highly recommend. Check it out!

 Yondo by KARDA ESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Yondo
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars Yondo' is one of those rare things, namely it is a digital single, and it's also free! Taken from the 'Time & Stars' album, Richard released it as a freebie Halloween special back in 2015 and never took it down so it's still available on Bandcamp for the bargain price of zero, nada, zip! Inspired by the weird story 'The Abominations Of Yondo' by Clark Ashton Smith', it features Richard Wileman (guitars, bass, keyboards, samples, percussion, effects) and Amy Fry (clarinet), and is a perfect example of why I love his music so much. It is deep, it is dramatic, cinematic, modern, dramatic and thought-provoking. If for some strange reason, you don't already own any Karda Estra albums then grab this five-minute-long piece of musical oddity and mastery. It's free!
 Weird Tales by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.99 | 27 ratings

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Weird Tales
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

KE's 2009 album is possibly, to my humble ears, the finest work to come from Richard Wileman. I haven't heard quite all of his CDs, but I have been lucky enough to review most of them, and here is a work of such depth and power to make even the most hardened cynic stand up and take notice. Richard has moved to the dark side and made music that is full of the joy and delight of Hammer House of Horror, yet without the gore and more than enough light to counterbalance the shade. Every track is a delight, with "Skulls In The Stars" potentially my current personal favourite. The orchestration is spot on, the combinations of musicians and Ileesha's wordless vocals combine together to bring together that is light and airy yet ominous and brooding all at the same time. This really is music that belongs on the soundtrack of a major film and I am stunned that he has yet to find a wider audience.

Still, those who have been lucky enough to come across his work before should be searching this album out with urgency ? and if you haven't then this couldn't be a better place to start. And guess what? If you go to Richard's website at www.kardaestra.co.uk he is currently selling all of his CDs for just £5 including worldwide postage!! Richard has been creating some of the most wonderful symphonic/orchestral/cinematic music in the UK for some years now, and if you haven't investigated his work until now then you owe it to your ears to start. This is a joy from start to finish ? depth and simplicity combining with melody and sometimes dischord to create harmony and balance. I can't say too much about this ? it is simple wonderful.

Originally appeared in Amplified #109, 2010

 The Last Of The Libertine by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 26 ratings

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The Last Of The Libertine
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

I have been a fan of Richard Wileman's work since I first became aware of his previous band, Lives & Times, yet I was surprised to see that this 2007 release was actually his eleventh as Karda Estra. The concept this time is of a man who exchanged his soul for a life of indulgence and the inevitable sadness when it comes to an end. Richard has again brought together a strong line-up to assist him in bringing this story to musical life, and as always has delivered an instrumental album of incredible complexity and depth. In previous reviews I have often commented on the cinematic quality of his work, combined with a great breadth of almost orchestral stylings. This album contains those elements but is now very tightly focussed with some almost jazz-stylings from the brass and woodwind. It is also interesting to hear Richard adopting some of the rockiest guitar playing I have heard from him on "Life Drawing" which is very much in direct contrast to "Atom Of Warmth".

I have been playing a lot of Antony Phillips in recent weeks and I can hear some of the same use of instrumentation and acoustic guitar here, especially when Richard produces some of his acoustic touches. Interestingly there are also sections that are quite reminiscent of Steve Hackett, but there is no way that his could be considered a homage to Genesis! Yet again Richard has produced a stand out work that lovers of good music are encouraged to discover for themselves. It may not be rock, it may not be jazz, it may not be truly classical, but as an amalgam of all three plus much more, this is a delight from the first note to the last. www.kardaestra.co.uk

Originally appeared in Amplified #109, 2010

 The Age Of Science And Enlightenment by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.95 | 24 ratings

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The Age Of Science And Enlightenment
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars When it comes to music of beauty and elegance then there are few that can match Richard Wileman and Karda Estra. Although Richard is often still viewed as a progressive artist, that is probably due more to his past and the labels to which he has signed (SI and Cyclops) as opposed to the music that he is producing, as this is far more in keeping with modern classical as opposed to rock. Of the entire progressive scene, it is fair to say that he has more in common with Steve Hackett than anyone else, yet this music is more accessible and enjoyable. There is a grace and beauty that transcends idioms and styles, with Ileesha providing wonderful choral style vocals when required. Richard continues to produce music of the highest quality, and I feel that with this album he has moved away from the more cinematic and visual soundscapes of the last few albums into something that that should be listened to with respect. Just lie back and let the music take you to places in your mind that you rarely visit ? you will be well rewarded for it.

Originally appeared in Feedback #88, Jun 2006

 Alternate History  by KARDA ESTRA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
4.00 | 9 ratings

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Alternate History
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars I have been singing the praises of Richard Wileman for more years than I care to remember, and now those who have wondered what I have been harping on about can find out for themselves at the ridiculously low price of just £3.99 including p&p! This is a compilation that contains pieces from Richard's albums, plus some songs that were previously unavailable. Richard creates music that is far more classical than just prog, and the music is visual in a way that is hard to describe. He uses female vocals as an instrument in their own right, and the result is something that is haunting and beautiful ? quite unlike anything else within the progressive scene, and much more in keeping with contemporary classical music. Always powerful and inspiring, this may not be the sort of music that you normally listen to, but I do highly recommend it.

Originally appeared in Feedback #82, Jan 2005

 Voivode Dracula by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.94 | 19 ratings

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Voivode Dracula
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars With this release' Richard Wileman has moved even further away from the musical conventions that would normally be given the term progressive rock, and even deeper into the world of modern classical music. Richard has a skill for bringing to life images and thoughts through music, which is always interesting and intriguing, and in this case blessed with a gothic darkness. Ileesha Bailey again uses her voice more as an ethereal musical instrument, but the main melody is often carried by woodwind, in particular the oboe. This CD is broken into five parts, and is Richard's interpretation of the legend of Dracula. It is a haunting dramatic piece of music, with Richard bringing into play little tonal colours that add greatly as they move in and out of the whole. This is incredibly dramatic, with Richard using his guests wisely, and the result is a towering piece of music. This deserves to be taken out of the progressive field and used by those looking for exciting film music, or just listened to intently by those who want their music to be vibrant and intriguing, if more than a little dark.

Originally appeared in Feedback #80, Jul 2004

 A Winter In Summertime by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.37 | 11 ratings

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A Winter In Summertime
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

In 1997 Lives & Times released their final album, 'Hoarse', on their own No Image label: at the time they were a duo, comprising Richard Wileman (all instrumentation) and Ileesha Bailey (vocals). A year later they were back in a new incarnation, Karda Estra, being joined now by Zoe King (flute, clarinet) and Rachel Larkins (viola). 'A Winter In Summertime' was their first mini-album, with seven instrumental tracks and just over twenty-seven minutes long. For some strange reason, I never heard this when it was released, so some nineteen years on I'm coming across it for the very first time.

Right from the off this is classic Karda Estra, as Richard combines all the instrumentation plus Ileesha's wordless vocals into something quite magical and special. This is a soundscape, a musical feast for the ears. Richard, to my mind, is one of the most important composers of modern classical cinematic music, creating images and drama with wonderfully layered arrangements and perfect juxtaposition of different instruments and sounds. Using Ileesha as another instrument adds to the other worldliness of the album, and combining this with gently picked classical guitar and a lighter curtain of sounds is simply wonderful. There is so much depth within this album, it just draws in the listener so that nothing ese exists except the new world of Karda Estra. It goes from lulling to something more frantic, and the switch between the end of "The Excavation Site" and the introduction to "Transference" is quite mean, as I found myself quite rudely awakened from a dreamlike state. I may be nearly twenty years late to the party, but I am so very glad that I finally got there.

 Constellations by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.07 | 43 ratings

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Constellations
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

This review is part of my attempt to catch up with some of Richard's albums that I missed the first time around for one reason or another, and here we are back in 2003. Within his musical chronology this was the follow-up to his collaboration with Artemiy Artemiev, 'Equilibrium', which is my least favourite of his albums, but really this should be viewed as the follow-up to 2001's 'Eve'. Between the two albums there has been just one change in line-up, with the addition of Sarah Higgins on cello, to add to the violin and viola of Helen Dearnley and Rachel Larkins respectively, and the line-up completed by Caron Hansford (oboe, cor anglais), Zoe King (flute, alto & soprano saxophones), Ileesha Bailey (wordless vocals) and Richard of course providing everything else (classic & electric guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion).

This album epitomises to me just what Karda Estra are all about, providing thought provoking modern classical music that is enthralling, beautiful, poignant and dramatic. Richard is rarely the lead musician, allowing others the opportunity to shine, with the woodwind often taking the melody line. This is an album to fall deep inside of, and then to be carried out along drifting on the currents of melody without any understanding of time or thought. It is simple, with loads of space and plenty of contrast, yet is also complex, with incredibly strong arrangements. One unusual aspect of this album is that there is also a cover version, here of Steve Hackett's 'Twice Around The Sun' where Richard has allowed himself to Karda Estra-ise a song so that it is both true to the original and to his own style. So, fourteen years on I have finally heard another true gem from Richard Wileman.

 Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.23 | 9 ratings

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Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars I was having a conversation one day with Richard Wileman, and had been looking through his back catalogue and noticed that I hadn't heard everything he had released. So, this how I have come about to be listening to this 2002 album which was a collaboration between Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev (synthesiser, sampler, electronics, percussion) and Richard Wileman (guitar, bass, electronic and acoustic percussion, loops, vocal and woodwind arrangements), along with Ileesha Bailey (vocals, breathing loop) and Caron Hansford (oboe, cor anglais). Apparently, this was one of four collaborative albums released by Artemiev in 2002, and he has certainly had a major impact on the overall sound as there are significant parts where I wouldn't have said that this was a Karda Estra release at all.

It is the songs where Richard has the upper hand, such as "Open Window", where the album comes to life. The background stays where it belongs, and Richard's guitar provides a repetitive motif that works well, but there are many others where this is an ambient electronic album where Richard is not able to make the impact that he would if it was all under his control. That the artists recorded separately, Karda Estra in England and Artemiev in Russia, probably says a lot about the album itself. That Artemiev's name comes first on the cover probably says even more.

I have been a huge fan of Richard for more than twenty years, long before Karda Estra back when he was working as Lives & Times, but although there are elements that I really enjoyed, overall this is just too ambient electronic for me.

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

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