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Antony Kalugin - Stellar Gardner - CD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €19.95

 "Stellar Gardener" is the second solo album of Ukrainian progressive master Antony Kalugin, while the first one has been released only 4 months ago. Taking into account that Antony is the main and almost the only songwriter for his projects "Sunchild" and "Karfagen" we know well what his style of songwriting is. Moreover, he used to be extremely productive latest times having 4 albums released during last 13 months (so it is getting harder writing conceptually something new reviewing his albums). And yet, "Stellar Gardener" manages to surprise its listener in a great manner. It seems to me that it might be one of the best albums to introduce the Antony's style to the new listener while the old one still find something he expects together with a number of fresh ideas.

The album contains of two (in fact, only one) songs, "Stellar" and "Gardener" 20 minutes long each that introduce a single suite in a single monolithic structure. This LP-based tradition works well as it helps not to overload the album with too long instrumental structure (yes, the album is full-instrumental except of a few vocalizes). The sound is quite bright and light, typical to the latest Kalugin's works. However, unlike the ethereal "Marshmallow Moondust", "Stellar Gardener" sounds heavy and anxious from time to time. This provides the dynamics I require to be involved into listening and helps to follow the general idea of the album.

Although in general the suite indeed sounds very bright, mostly because of a clear sound provided by acoustic guitar and piano (both were recorded by Antony himself). Rest sounds have been produced electronically. Antony is a great pianist and composer and all parts of the album are great; however, I really would like to hear them played with "real" instruments ? especially for drums. The drum parts are mostly interesting; however, it is hard to enjoy them due to their "unnatural manner".

Not dwelling on the song description (just try to hear it, the album worth it!) I just shell mention few important points:

1) The beginning of the first part, "Stellar", with its light interlude and vocalizes reminded me of a sound of Pat Metheny Group from 1970-ies. It is very nice and also seems to be quite iconic as Antony seems to finally introduce the jazz nature of his musical ideas in the clearest possible manner.

2) Album contains numerous references to different albums of "Sunchild" and "Karfagen". The most clear are the quotation from "As far as the eye can see" and the allusion to the "Messages from Afar" in a vocalized part

3) It has become already clear that Antony likes to create a "hidden reprise" or the "reducted reprise" in his albums. Same here, the last part on the suite that usually repeats the first one, is quite short. However, it plays its role into the general structure and brings us to the final point in the best manner, so this is far from being a problem

To sum up: the album is great and any fan of progressive rock should pay attention to this piece of music. Despite a number of non-perfect points (lack of "live instruments"; absence of Antony's concerts latest years, even before the pandemic; a huge quantity of his albums these days), "Stellar Gardener" is an awesome product and I shell recommend it with all my passion.

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