Karda Estra Constellations
By Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Just the name Karda Estra rolls off of the
tongue with an exotic enunciation. It implies mysticism. It implies earthiness
as it does otherworldliness. Karda Estra. Something foreign, maybe a bit
strange, but something curious and potentially wonderful. Richard Wileman, as
Karda Estra, performs a soulful and cosmic ode to the stars, or as he puts it,
six Constellations to represent our all-too-brief spark.
The Southern Cross opens with a dreamy, translucent
journey towards the infinite and unfathomable, as Wileman describes
it. Wileman stretches his progressive-classical composition with a sweeping
bass, airy oboe, peaceful acoustic and electric guitars and celestial
background vocals by Ileesha Bailey. Hydra shrewdly assumes a Miles
Davis-like blue light pseudo scat with hard piano strikes that are swept by
upbeat mod reeds. Hydra feels like a smoky club improvisation until the
sliding guitars conveys an extraterrestrial presence, particularly with loud
percussion that jettisons the song into the stratosphere.
Scorpio begins with a brief spiral of hollowness, but
is seized by a colossal drum kit and assumptive army of bass/string/reed which
communicate free-floating moments that settle into a serene flute sequence. The
only weakness of Constellations comes on Vela, where the
free-floating sensation continues, but the track takes on an unexpected fusion
jazz moment that doesnt fully work. At 9:28, Vela tries to be
epic, yet it comes off more like a score to a seventies made-for-TV horror
Wileman rectifies himself with a grand cover of Steve
Hacketts Twice Around the Sun. It is a befitting tribute with its
Renaissance spirit that rings melancholic at times, but is constantly poignant.
The gorgeous execution by Wileman and his entourage of players makes for an
eloquent conclusion to a very worthy endeavor.
The emotional impact and triumphant majesty of
Constellations can hardly be described; in order to express it properly,
one would have to listen to it for him or herself. Wileman and company present
a nearly perfect recording of neoclassicism with a resoundingly high standard
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