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Antony Kalugin - Marshmallow Moondust CD (album) cover


Antony Kalugin


Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 110 ratings

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3 stars Some completely solo performances of ideas by the prolific prog maestro from Ukraine. Marshmallow Moondust offers some pleasant, upbeat fluff to distract people from the heaviness of the COVID-era.

1. "Marshmallow" (20:20) mostly prog lite: pleasant instrumental background music with a few nice passages and themes--especially in the 15th and 16th minutes--before the PAT METHENY GROUP Latin-and vocalised section. It's a little too cheesy and gratuitously upbeat for my tastes, but pleasant enough. And there is definitely nothing new, exciting, or innovative going on here. (33/40)

2. "Moondust" (20:20) I was 90 seconds into this one before I realized it wasn't the ending of the previous song! The opening is very familiar--similar to both Incantations-era MIKE OLDFIELD and the light-rock side of PAT METHENY(Secret Story). The "Sesame Street" themes used in the foundation of the third and fourth minutes are a bit distracting--but it is a nice, melodic, soft passage. At 4:40 there is a subtle shift to a new motif that could be an under-development GENESIS demo. Nice sound palette and melodic hooks--especially from the Tony Banksian keys--it's just that you know GENESIS would do much better with the guitars and drums. In the eleventh minute there is another slight shift in which male vocals whisper sing "marshmallow moon" in the background before Mellotron-like female choir voices do some DANNY ELFMAN/Harry Potter-like eerie vocal insertions. At 12:20 things are toned down for clunky bass and jazzy drums to take the Potter-theme into a jazz-lite direction--but this only lasts a bit before bare synth wash, acoustic guitar, "oboe & flutes" and fretless bass take it down into a pastoral New Age passage. Great guitar lead around the 16-minute mark before "harpsichord" and "vibes" and organ take it into a slow GRYPHON/PROCUL HARUM/FOCUS-like theme and passage--which takes us to an amped up end of multiple recapitulations of other themes woven into a cacophony of sound. (34.5/40)

I'm not even sure whether to count the condensed "medley" version of the two epics that are included with my Bandcamp "Digital Album" purchase. The version of "Marshmallow" (3. "Marshmallow Medley" [7:20]) is definitely more rollicking and captures the essence of the 20-minute version with the dynamics of an Emerson Lake and Palmer song cross-bred with a 1980s PAT METHENY GROUP song. (13.25/15)

4. "Moondust Melody" (7:20) opens as if it were the previous song, but then turns a different corner with its sound palette--though ends up still sounding like a KEITH EMERSON keyboard display over a WEATHER REPORT/GENESIS base. The slowdown section--here instituted at the end of the third minute--feels like an unnatural transition, but once you're there it still works in a New Agey jazz-fusion kind of way. Gone are the Sesame Street references but the Procul Harum/Focus motifs become "stately wedding" slow march music. The Danny Elfman/XII Alfonso-like convergence of themes that occurs in the finale is, then, amped up but shortened and a little less satisfying. It sure goes by much faster than the beautiful long version! (12.75/15)

I like the long version of "Moondust" much better than "Marshmallow" but it still suffers from a lightness that feels sometimes incomplete or unfinished. And then I like the condensed version of "Marshmallow" better than that of "Moondust." Go figure!

B-/3.5 stars; a nice prog lite addition to any prog lover's music collection. it's getting a lot of praise so, check it out for yourselves. There's a lot of ear candy here--and it's certainly better than Birds of Paradise--but some of it feels overly familiar, so let's let it percolate a bit before deciding on its final place in Prog World.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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