CD Review

Karda Estra – “Constellations”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

ConstellationsJust 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 doesn’t 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 flick.

Wileman rectifies himself with a grand cover of Steve Hackett’s 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 of craft.

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