Release Date: 2006

Track Listing
1)  Talos
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2)  Carmilla
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3)  Am I dreaming you? Are dreaming me?
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4)  The age of science and enlightement
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5)  The return of John Deth:
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i)  The red room
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ii)  Bones in the moonlight
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iii)  Nocturne macabre
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6)  Second star
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Member: Epilepticgibbon (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Epilepticgibbon)
Date: 4/20/2006
Format: CD (Album)

I've been listening to the music of Richard Wileman, the composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist behind Karda Estra, since the late 1990s.

It's strange to write of time when discussing the music of Karda Estra because it's essentially timeless, certainly when compared with the fickle and fly-by-night nature of musical fashions and popular trends. Which is great because although Karda Estra will never be as generally popular as Coldplay or as bizarrely hyped as the Arctic Monkeys, the music is all the better for it.

Two years have passed since the release of Voivode Dracula, a five-part suite, which took its inspiration from the various characters, settings, and scenarios in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. That album was typically Karda Estra, as is this one, again taking the almost trademark combination of progressive, classical, ambient and experimental elements, the sounds of haunting, other worldly vocals (provided here, as on previous KE albums, by the impressive Ileesha Bailey) mixed with powerful symphonic moments and dramatic changes in mood.

All Karda Estra albums tend to create an atmosphere that takes you to another world. In the case of 2003's Constellations that other world was outer space, the stars, the heavenly bodies of the cosmos, etc. and that album succeeded in instilling the listener with the extremes of awe and menace that one might experience whilst taking a tour of the galaxy. Voivode Dracula was more down to earth but still dealt with otherworldly themes, but those of a more supernatural and gothic variety. And The Age of Science and Enlightenment, for the most part at least, has more in common stylistically with Voivode Dracula than Constellations. So The Age of Science and Enlightentment feels less spacey and majestic, and more like the soundtrack for a classy and complex psychological horror film.

There are eight tracks in total, though three of the tracks (“The Red Room”, “Bones In The Moonlight”, and “Nocturne Macarbe”) make up parts one to three of “The Return of John Deth” and this 'suite' represents something of a departure for Karda Estra - I can't remember this kind of thing on any previous KE albums, i.e. one long conceptual suite split into three parts. It's a little different again from the album-long storytelling that dominated Voivode Dracula.

Otherwise though it's business as usual and the tracks are typically moody, atmospheric and gothic and, as always. I love the way that Richard's assorted guitars, keyboards and percussion are skillfully combined with Ileesha Bailey's vocals, and assorted string and woodwind instruments provided by Helen Dearnley, Caron Hansford and Zoe Josey.

As with previous releases, this album will appeal to lovers of dark classical music, horror film soundtracks and the prog rock and classical music of Steve Hackett (one of Richard's undisputed musical heroes).

My only criticism is that apart from the few subtle differences I've mentioned so far there's little to single this out from any previous Karda Estra albums. So although track three “Am I dreaming you? Are you dreaming me?” has slightly more of a rock feel to some of its guitars and a militaristic drum part, for example, and although I wrote above how “The Return of John Deth” represents something of a change in terms of its compositional structure, it's otherwise hard to pick out any track and say that it couldn't have come from any of the past few KE albums. Now that's not really a problem because the music here is as good as ever, but if you didn't like previous KE albums then you're not going to like this one, and it would be nice to hear Richard push the boundaries of the KE sound a little further before it does become over-familiar and formulaic. That said, we've not reached that point yet and there's much on The Age of Science and Enlightentment to tantalise, thrill, impress and move you, and if you've enjoyed previous Karda Estra albums then this is another must buy.

Best tracks: “Talos”, “Carmilla”, “The Red Room”, “Bones In The Moonlight”, “Second Star”.
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Member: rarebird (Profile) (All Album Reviews by rarebird)
Date: 12/28/2006
Format: CD (Album)

The music from Karda Estra, the group around composer Richard Wileman, can best be described as chamber prog. I’m not sure if this is correct, but it comes as close as it gets. One might label the music as classical as well, but perhaps that is too broad. It’s definitely not rock music, if one associates this with pounding drums and a heavy rhythm section. The age of science and enlightenment doesn’t bring a big change compared to his other work, as far as I know. The tone is rather dark and the music would really fit some kind of gothic novel playing in the nineteenth century London. Think Edgar Allan Poe, or Jack the Ripper. The music is mostly instrumental with some ethereal vocals from Ileesha Bailey. The use of violin, oboe, cor anglais, flute and saxophones definitely give the music some classical character. The use of electric guitar and synthesizers doesn’t interfere with the acoustic impression the music mostly makes. It’s quiet and held-back. Don’t expect any display of virtuosity, which doesn’t mean the music isn’t played well or is easy to play, but just that it isn’t music, which tries to impress the audience with fast runs and stuff like that. The music doesn’t need that to impress me. It creates an atmosphere of dark libraries lighted with candles or oil lamps, where some danger might be lurking in the shades.

The CD opens with “Talos”, which starts with some synthesizer-noise, which is stopped by some dark heavy piano-chords, after which the music is mainly carried by piano, playing mostly the accompaniment and cor anglais or oboe, carrying the melody. The other instruments add their parts and help to create a dark and gloomy atmosphere. “Carmilla” is a bit more romantic piece, with some ethereal vocals. The music is a bit more dreamy. “Am I dreaming you? Are you dreaming me?” starts with guitar and synthesizer. This is a more electronic piece with some mumbling voices, snare drum, flute and electric guitar. “The return of John Deth” is a three-part suite, which starts with “The red room”, which sounds a bit mysterious, with some melodies played on violin. “Bones in the moonlight” is the second part and sounds spooky and haunting, with some xylophone-like sounds and acoustic guitar. It would sound great during a walk on the graveyard. “Nocturne macabre” is the third part of the suite. It is short and I don’t think there is more to say. “Second star” closes the CD, which sometimes reminds me a bit on Joe Jackson – Night Music.
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