(All Album Reviews by Howlin Rev)
In the last few years I have discovered, stumbled upon, or have been led to more good music than I almost have time to hear. The Internet, music boards, total access, etcetera have opened up so much good music from so many good musicians, the problem now is having the time to hear it all. I shudder when I think of all the music, worthy of every ear, that I'll never hear. Luckily for me, I've now heard Richard Wileman and company- Karda Estra. Finding the time to hear this new release, Constellations (Cyclops Records- cycl-130), will not be a problem. Here, Richard Wileman hands us the stars as well as the space between them, in a classically-progressive amalgam of Holst and Hackett.
Karda Estra is an artistically developed merging of 18th century European music and the more harmonious components of progressive rock. Constellations has the classical leanings of Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett, along with hints of the more exploratory nature of Art Zoyd, and the like. At times, with its rhythms and reverse tracks, it's almost like “Classical In Opposition“ if there is such a genre. Then again, it's simply beautiful.
Constellations journey begins in the southern half of the celestial sphere with "The Southern Cross". Warm, angelic vocals chorusing above underlying layers of keyboards and guitar swells. Classical guitars to violins and violas, from oboes and cellos making melody. Next, while still in the southern skies, it's "Hydra". Very different from the first track, "Hydra" slinks in on the beat of a drum and piano. With a change of chords, the oboe starts a melody that seems meant to charm and mesmerize the serpent, as it does this listener. "Cassiopeia", daughter of Cepheus and Andromeda, was changed into a constellation. How brightly she shines in this composition. You can hear the pureness in the classical guitar and heavenly chorus. The vocals and lush arrangements are just gorgeous.
The next two songs, "Phoenix" and "Scorpio" are immediately my favorites. "Phoenix", because it's composition and presentation is such a vivid aural painting. It's that “seeing with your ears” thing. The idea of “new beginnings” painted for the mind's eye, musically. As for "Scorpio", well you just have to love a scorpio. Wileman calls this a self portrait. Track six is "Vela". "Vela" is just short of ten minutes and is everything you would hope this progressive-in-classical-in-opposition-expedition would dare be. Brilliantly beautiful.
In fact, the entire album is brilliantly beautiful. Each track following the next, in what sounds a seamless and stunning effort. Each note, bringing into actuality, fulfilling it’s purpose to the full amount. Constellations, a suite of six new songs and still a “sweet” seventh track for us all, a rendering of Steve Hackett’s ‘Twice Around The Sun’. How nice!
Vincent Van Gogh said “It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to..... the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.” Richard Wileman paints the constellations and puts the language of nature to song here, brilliantly. This journey through the constellations should not be missed.