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Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Quite stunning debut from this project led by Ukraine musician Antony Kalugin. I heard he is behind several other similar one man works, but this is my first contact with his music and I´m quite impressed. Sansui9090 sent me a message saying I would love this album and he is right. Usually I don´t like those solo stuff: most likely than not they are just excuses for long self indulgent ego trips. Sunchild is one exception. Although Kalugin is obviously in charge here, writing, arranging, playing all the keyboards and even singing, he is also surrounded by several terrific musicians and vocalists that give the record a broad, collective feel, that works very well for the music.

Kalugin proves that his is, above all, a very good songwriter. The Gnomon is a double CD offering that shows his talents in writing great tunes with fine melodies and strong hooks. His musical influences are many: symphonic rock (Pink Floyd and early Genesis are the most obvious ones), classical music, neo prog, psychodelic/space rock, Canterbury sounds and even some local folk among others can be found on this very eclectic work. And, incredibly. it all sounds very coherent and strongly united in the middle of this variety of styles. A truly remarkable feat considering that Sunchild is basicly a solo work. But as I said before, there is no ego trip, everything here is for the music: every note, every instrument comes in and out at the right moment and there is absolutely no fat to be found, even if 4 out of the 9 songs clock over the 9 minute mark and that two are over 20 minutes long.

Production is quite good enhancing the exquisitely craft arrangements and fine playing. His voice may not be the strongest around but he has a nice tone and sings with true emotion. The additional female singers are also a plus. There are no fillers to be found and although some tracks are obviously better than others, they are all very good. Absolute highlight for me is the 26+ minute Sleepwalker. A great epic that won me over from the very first time I heard it, it has everything one migh t wnated from such massive prog opus: shifting moods, several tempo changes, great melody lines, fantastic guitar solos, orchestral keys, even a beautiful trumpet solo! This is truly one of those rare track-worth-the-price-of-the-CD examples.

Conclusion: a very nice surprise from the Ukraine! Very eclectic and yet very unified work that is a joy to hear over and over again. And with each time you´ll find another subtle, but very efficient, layer of sounds in this very well done work of art. I could talk for hours about The Gnomon. But you should just get it and judge for yourself. For me is one of the best records I found this year.

Rating: between 4,5 and 5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#313064)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wof ! There have been a long time since we heard such delightfull sound. The first thing coming to mind when earing Sleepwalker, the longest track was a mix of Pink Floyd (vocals, guitar) and Supertramp (piano), the whole thing on 20 000 volt. It even borrows the Division Bells bells around minute 21:00 and could have been the last Pink Floyd if Gilmour had been 30 instead of 50 in 1994. As Tarcicio notes it : - there is absolutly nothing bad in this record. Composition and playing is absolutly perfect from A to Z. I would just regret a nearly omnipresent and too proeminent drum set. - it's a feast of textures borrowed to the whole progressive and crossover domain, from folk to symphonic (mostly), in a very coherent opus. Hopefully, it does not verse into the hard/metal side, though, despite some high dynamics. But it actually rocks !

The Gnomo open the CD the way Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part I do. Astoria is a bit harsh for my symphonic-fed ears. Sleepwalker is the second best track, a much progressive track, while The Prayer of the broken heart is a bit repetitive. Adrift is more of an interlude slowing the tempo or Love Will Shine Like Gold, a piano driven and melancholic ballad. first class. Tempo is up again in Sunchild, except a church organ break around 4:00, quickly fading into a more synthesized keyboard, then Hammon. All in all this long track is exploring probably a dozen of different organ textures with coherence. Midnight Train, piano-driven ballad again, introduces warm femal vocals Wonderworld,weredrums are better controled, is the most melodious track and the clear winner with an absolutly outstanding interplay between guitars and keyboards. The second half is reminescent of Roger Waters and closing on a nice climax. This track will remain in your head long after the others have faded.

An absolute masterpiece.

Report this review (#343069)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was pleasantly surprised by this double debut album of Ukrainian band. Melodic multi layered very energetic symphonic prog in traditions of greatest genre's bands from early 70-s!

Plenty of keyboards are supported by many other instruments,including different reeds, guitars and other strings. Elements of Eastern European folklore are mixed with Jethro Tull-like folk prog, ELP influenced keyboards passages,some Floydian moments.

Musicians are all competent, and music is really played at quite high technical level. Even more - being a long and quite complex album, it sounds pleasant and not boring. I like female back- up vocals, whenever male vocals are more question of taste. Songs are quite long, of complex structure but generally of synth/keys symphonic prog domination in sound. Some tradition Ukrainian instruments (as bayan or harmonica) or tunes really add more colours into whole sound.

There are two main problems with this album for me though: first is being released in year 2008 this album sounds absolutely as vaults recordings from mid-70s. With bombastic (Gerard-like) vintage keyboards passages, dramatic and pathetic vocals - and seriously out of time. Second problem is in fact this music has very low level of originality if at all: experienced listener will easily hear where starts piece borrowed from ELP, Jethro Tull or Pink Floyd. Good and talented collection of strong classic symphonic prog influence, but it's hardly enough to name this album great release.

In all, quite pleasant album, possibly could seriously attract hot vintage melodic symphonic prog fans. For all others it's not a bad listening, but hardly innovative or original enough to attract any special attention.

Report this review (#343179)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Antony Kalugin's first album from his Sunchild project is essentially Kalugin and a wide range of guest collaborators taking us on a one and a half hour retro-prog journey, And that's exactly the problem - competently performed as it is, it's got the common problem of all too many 2000s-era retro-prog releases in the sense that it outstays its welcome. Sprawling over two discs, I feel like if it had trimmed away the filler and fat and presented us with the best 40-odd minutes of the material here it'd be far stronger.

In addition, Kalugin handles most of the vocals and unfortunately, his voice just isn't up to it. In particular, he's singing in English and it clearly isn't his first language; to be fair, his English is far better than my Ukrainian, but it's a rare vocalist who is able to sing as comfortably and naturally in a foreign language as they do in their own, and Kalugin's chops fall well short of that point.

Report this review (#2055592)
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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