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Kashgar biography
Kashgar is an innovative jazz-rock-world outfit that plays original music combining the hard edge of prog rock with jazz and world fusion sensibilities. Fronted by Anglo-Canadian guitarist Marcus Taylor (Broken Parachute, Crosswinds), the group also includes Ben Bell (Fusion Orchestra 2, Patchwork Cacophony) on keys, and Matt Snowden and Jeff Willet on drums / percussion. The tracks are original and dynamic, with searing guitar and hammond interplay over rich compositions that evoke bands from Santana and the Mahavishnu Orchestra through to the world fusion of Steve Tibbetts and Trilok Guru.

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3.05 | 2 ratings
3.03 | 5 ratings

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 Artefact by KASHGAR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.03 | 5 ratings

Kashgar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars This is the sophomore effort from the band KASHGAR, headed by Ontario based guitarist Marcus Taylor. He's responsible for the lyrics, plus the whole production as well. Keyboarder Ben Bell also seems to be a constant, contributes very appealing Hammond organ on this occasion. The new one 'Artefact' is a jazz respectively world fusion fundamented album, also garnered with some blues, samba respectively latin remarks. As for that they are offering progressive rock for sure, though not the purest, one can say, not all along the way anyhow. A great plus in any case, I'm pleased to hear Marc Atkinson participating, at least when it comes to three of the songs.

Regarding the prog scene a rather popular vocalist from the UK, with contributions for bands like Nine Stones Close, Drifting Sun, Riversea, and many others too. Provided by Candy Medusa, the album art is something speciaI, I'd say nicely complementing to the world music character. Apart from that I can't discover a strict concept here, unless you take the general attitude to weave diverse musical influences together, gathered throughout recent years most likely. What helps anyway, Taylor also delivers an interesting album accompaniment. Which means a track guide, in order to offer some insight concerning the particular approach.

Apart from the already mentioned aspects, the guitar playing is very pleasing, top notch overall. A preference for Carlos Santana's work comes to the fore in between due to Sabarito and Libertad. Examplarily the world music impact manifests with Transcendence, while drawing a distinct reference to the traditional South Indian Carnatic respectively Konnakol chant for example. With Atkinson being perfectly incorporated the fusion-esque Light Me Up finally turns out to be my favourite track. My conclusion: 'Artefact' is a good album with nice compositions and excellent sound mix, 3.5 stars.

 Artefact by KASHGAR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.03 | 5 ratings

Kashgar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Steve Conrad

3 stars Meticulous Musical Ministrations

Marcus and Pals' World Jams

Marcus is a restless musical soul, and shows a wide palate of influences from which he draws. When he and Ben Bell- who also collaborated with Marcus on BROKEN PARACHUTE- get together, some pretty steamy, bluesy, jazzy musical emanations can occur.

Artefact Is no Exception

KASHGAR itself is a chance for Marcus, Ben, and fellow-musicians to explore a heady brew of Latin, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other World music, and this sophomore release from KASHGAR brings us some fine examples. And Marc Atkinson (RIVERSEA) adds vocals to three tracks for a change of pace.

Despite his fine vocals, these tracks are my least favorite part of the album. I favor the instrumentals here because of the way these musical miscreants weave influences into intriguing compositions. The lyrics and vocals simply didn't help, and didn't add much.

Standout Tracks

For me the opener, "Uncertainties", with its slow-burning entry that builds in passion, using varying tempos, and that chiming Hammond, really sizzles.

I liked the Santana vibes on tracks four and eight, "The Unholy Four" and "Libertad" respectively, and a feature throughout Artefact is unexpected flourishes and touches, especially to these ears, some of the choral work.

Marcus' Guitar

Marcus' playing is impressive throughout. He uses tasteful guitar settings including fat, soaring blues licks, razor- sharp lead lines, acoustic guitar jazz licks, and what sounds like hollow-body electric guitar work. It's never overdone, and it always strikes me that there's some hidden heavy-metal fire in his soul; for me, he could unchain that some because when he and the band cut loose, like on that first track- it's a treat.


Ben's Keyboards

One word: Hammond. OK...two words. Hammond Organ.

Oh man, if there's a sweet spot for me in progressive rock- and other genres too of course- it's that fat, growling, sweet, chiming suite of sounds only produced by the Hammond organ. I haven't inspected his keyboard rig, but it sounds like the real B3 deal.

And Ben knows how to throw in the tasty backing chords as well as the chiming, melodic leads.

He also uses synthesizer lines and choral settings to great effect. Tracks four and nine are highlights, but there are numerous places throughout this album.

James' Drums

Crisp. Tasteful. Adroit. Some fancy fills. I'm no drummer, but James is a drummer I might have liked to know back in the day- that sort of playing enriches the sound of KASHGAR.

In Conclusion

For me, this is close to a four-star effort: "Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection." The world-music touches, variety of percussion instruments, tight, meticulous playing and production, fine compositions, exceptional attention to details, variety, all make for a great listening experience.

The caveats bring it back some to 3.5 stars: Good (and the half-star makes it better than good) but non-essential (although it's essential for you if you love fusion music, jazz, and progressive rock mixed with world-music vibes.

Caveats: the tunes with vocals don't work for me, although the vocals are just fine. The last track, "No More Time", uses spoken and sung lyrics in what may have been inspired by Gentle Giant to some extent. It was interesting, but not my thing either.

And if you use lyrics for more than just another sound to add to the mix- if they have meaning- why not make them easily available?

 Kashgar by KASHGAR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.05 | 2 ratings

Kashgar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Like a very promising act that goes for all the marbles KASHGAR self titled 2015 release shows up where this band is coming from, up front and straight. So! Santana, Di Meola, Beck (Jeff), McLaughlin, even S.R.V followers, KASHGAR is deeply influenced by these huge names in the Jazz Rock/Fusion district seasoned with Indo/Raga flavors and from there they construct this unpretentious, hearfelt and highly enjoyable ride.

What makes it tick beyond the "deeply influenced" or "tribute like" relies entirely on it steadfast simplicity which in no way means simplistic. Those names mentioned beforehand besides their obvious connection with the same instrument, created each their own musical idiom, far away from their performance virtuosity alone.

Kashgar's musical idiom sounds like a perfect blend in perfect dossages of those foreign musical idioms. As if after really studying these older teachers they picked up their best, filtered it off any kind of "guitar god" glitter and paraphernalia and focused into spilling their hearts out anyway these "old master's" ways lead.

Highly emotional (upbeat/downbeat), contemporary and recreative, a very promising first release that should easily find its way in any Jazz/Rock/Fusion, Indo-Prog/Raga Rock prog collection in some way or another.

***3.5 PA stars.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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