Karfagen -
Messages From Afar: Second Nature

(CD 2024, 57:05, Caerllysi Music)

The tracks:
  1- Ride Your Dream(3:41)
  2- Fantasion(7:25)
  3- November Blue(4:34)
  4- Bond Of Love (Expanded Version)(7:02)
  5- Agora By Night(4:31)
  6- Daybreak(3:47)
  7- Bright Little Star(3:55)
  8- Searching For Mr. Kite (Expanded Version)(11:04)
  9- Second Nature(2:25)
CD Exclusively Bonus Tracks Featuring Music Of Dmytro Ignatov
10- Flying High(3:23)
11- Another Day(1:43)
12- One Last Time(3:35)

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I have been familiar with the Ukrainian multi-instrumentalist Antony Kalugin and his musical project Karfagen (which means Carthago) since the very first beginning, which was the debut album entitled Continium, from 2006, I was delighted with the dual keyboard work. Since then, Kalugin has turned into a prolific musician, releasing many albums with Karfagen, but he also founded other musical projects, from Hoggwash and Sunchild to AKKO and AKP. Last year I was lucky to witness Karfagen during a Dutch festival in the prog venue De Boerderij in Zoetermeer. He made a lot of friends with his wonderful music, and I bought a Karfagen t-shirt, after a short talk with Antony. He was very busy that evening, and the huge attention for him and Karfagen was fully deserved.

Listening to this new album again I am impressed by his skills as a musician and a composer. In the 9 tracks he delivers very melodic, harmonic and accessible music, often dreamy or slow rhythms, but he succeeds to keep my attention with beautiful work on keyboards, guitar and saxophone, along with pleasant vocals. My highlights.

Ride Your Dream has a slow rhythm, dreamy vocals and a flashy synthesizer solo.

Bond Of Love - Expanded Version contains first a mellow intro with female vocals, then a bombastic climate with fat guitar riffs, saxophone and a brassy synthesizer solo, and finally tender vocals and keyboards, topped with sensitive guitar runs.

Daybreak features a classical piano intro, gradually the music shifts to a tight beat with powerful saxophone and a fiery guitar solo.

Bright Little Star has a nice surprise, the distinctive voice of Colin Bass, in a dreamy atmosphere featuring mellow work on the saxophone and a moving guitar solo. The Camel fans will love it!

Searching For Mr. Kite - Expanded Version is an epic composition that has the focus on a long, harder-edged guitar solo, with a tight beat, and halfway a spectacular synthesizer solo.

Finally, the short but beautiful Second Nature with tender piano, in the second part blended with orchestrations, wonderful!

My CD version contains 3 exclusively bonus tracks featuring music of guitarist Dmytro Ignatov.

A slow rhythm with a long and compelling guitar solo in Flying High. Duo acoustic guitars that reminds me of early Dutch prog folk band Flairck in Another Day. And finally, One Last Time that starts dreamy with soaring keyboards, then a slow beat with an intense guitar sound evoking Camel, followed by an excellent build-up with howling and biting wah-wah guitar, fuelled by propulsive rhythm-section. Halfway a slowdown and then again bombastic and powerful guitar, and in the end tender acoustic guitar, wow!

**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)

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