Karda Estra - Infernal Spheres,
Richard is back with his fourteenth album, and I made the mistake of playing this in the car the very first time I listened to it, and only realised afterwards that I had driven more than sixty kilometres with no real recollection of having done so! When Richard is in his comfort zone of mixing and melding classical musical soundscapes with progressive overtones, then there really is no-one else who can match him. I defy anyone to listen to "Obelisk of Cruithine" and not been drawn into a labyrinthine world of melodies, dissonance, simplicity and complexity that defies description, yet makes complete musical sense always. How Richard manages to understand exactly what notes he needs where, and which instruments are to be used to play them, is just beyond me. Apart from Helen Dearnley providing violin, this song, amazingly, is one where he provides virtually all the instruments himself (he lists himself as providing acoustic, classical, electric, bass and prepared guitars, keyboards, samples, percussion, rastrophone, bouzouki, Appalachian dulcimer and zither on this album).
Yet he brings in guests on bass clarinet, oboe, cor anglais, violin, clarinet, tenor sax, bass trombone, tenor trombone and trumpet where he feels the need. There are also drums, but only one two songs, while Ileesha provides her amazing wordless vocals to just three numbers this time. I have known Richard for more than twenty years now, and I have yet to hear anyone else achieve what he manages with Karda Estra. He still surprises me in so many ways, as he moves so many different styles, yet all with a common theme of being visual: I always “See” his music as well as hearing it. It may be his fourteenth album but he shows no signs at all, of slowing down, and this is his finest yet. If you don’t believe me then find out more by visiting http://www.kardaestra.co.uk