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Karfagen - Echoes From Within Dragon Island CD (album) cover

ECHOES FROM WITHIN DRAGON ISLAND

Karfagen

 

Symphonic Prog

4.12 | 223 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

BrufordFreak
5 stars How many people really have the time (not to mention patience and ability to focus) to really get to know a 53-minute piece of music? Though I've owned this for a while, it's taken me a long time to pull together a review. I had begun, in my now-usual style, to put together a minute-by-minute report by keeping notes from various partial listens, when frustration and time brought me to my wits end. So, instead, this is what you get. Impressions and comments.

1. "Dragon Island Suite (Part 1)" (17:17) Nice sound--very nice sound engineering despite the participation of many, many performers, many, many instruments, many, many themes, and, thus, many, many tracks.

Sometimes exotic instruments or nuanced inputs occur so fleetingly or subtly that I am sad to see them go while I keep distracting my attention by looking for their return. Many of the vocal appearances strike me in this way.

What is this story about? There are very few lyrics to give me any leads. Should I have to have a companion guide?

How many themes, motifs, and movements are necessary to tell this story?

The sound is really good! The instruments and voices, in their many, many layers, are recorded and mixed better than any other project that Antony Kalugin has put together. (Has he upped his keyboard selection and/or recording equipment?)

The vocalists have a great command of English! Very little accent--and sounds a bit like young Roger Waters. There is a lot of familiarity in this music to many of the themes published by Colin Tench over the years--and one of the main male vocalists to the narrative voice stylings of one of Colin's main men, Peter Jones. There's even a little of the best of Andy Tillison in the lead male vocalist as well. (31.5/35)

2. "Dragon Island Suite (Part 2)" (18:41) Very symphonic in a Tchaikovsky kind of way rather than Italian operatic (I think I'm being influenced by the strong Nutcracker themes in the second part of the Dragon Suite.

Beautiful lush theme in the 21st minute before going back to Nutcracker/Swan Lake melody themes.

22:00 - Ant Phillips' 1984! Wonderful!

Anton is doing a magnificent job of mixing the modern/electric instrumentation with the acoustic/traditional (like accordion).

26:50 - Genesis with accordion base?! Excellent Tony Banksian section from here into the 29th minute--beautiful--becoming more and more Genesis-like (even with accordion) into and through the 30th.

The group vocal in the 31st minute sounds so STRAWBS-like! The music builds, helped by the use of full choir, before then dropping off for a brief pianissimo piano part and then exploding back into a full-on whole group denouement with electric guitar solo to help cap off the end of Part 2 of the Suite. (38/40)

3. "My Bed Is A Boat" (2:45) is a beautiful classical guitar-supported flute and oboe piece that serves as a nice interlude before Part 3 of the Suite. (4.5/5)

4. "Dragon Island Suite (Part 3)" (16:32) Here is where we finally get into the syrupy New Age-y stuff that I'm used to hearing in an Anton Kalugin project. The guy could write great soundtrack music for children's television.

In the sixth minute a soloing electric guitar gets cooking before being joined and supplanted by some keys. At 6:50 there is a break as solo synth sets another, more mysterious mood before male voices join in with a chant about ancient stars. This is the beginning of the "Valley of the Kings" section. Eventually the chant is drowned out by a continuously thickening layering of fast-moving instruments. Sounds very, very much like THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE here with many instruments trading the spotlight and many solos overlapping or seeming to "talk" to one another. Silly chase theme in the thirteenth minute is highlighted by brief flourishes of Keith Emerson-like Moog. At 13:52 the pace changes as if some resolution has occurred and the army is collecting itself into a cheering march formation. Two themes are carried forward and echoed off one another until a slow down ushers in a calming outro in the sixteenth minute. (26/30)

Overall, there is very little that I dislike about this album--not even one theme--nor are there many deficiencies in awkward instrumentation choices or sound mix. I only wish I didn't feel that Part 2's main themes and form weren't lifted from Tchaikovsky and that the Part 3 opening and foundation weren't so syrupy.

Total time 55:35

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music and my favorite Antony Kalugin product in a long time.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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