Karda Estra - Voivode Dracula

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 143
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:25:00

Those well acquainted with Richard Wileman and his brainchild Karda Estra and have been able to follow his not-so-gradual progression from progressive rock into the field of full-fledged cinematic music, know that the Brit is more than capable of delivering the goods, and are probably fascinated by the development of his harmonic and orchestration abilities. Now, let us be frank. Constellations failed to meet the expectations that previous releases had set, thus putting into question whether or not this one-man army had seen its best years go by. After listening to Voivode Dracula, I must warn you: it hasn't. Wileman's latest release goes beyond all expectations. Way beyond. In fact, it is Karda Estra's finest release so far. Talk about coming back with a vengeance.

The fact that the album concerns itself with Bram Stoker's novel Dracula should not be surprising to fans of Karda Estra, as the previously released Eve gorgeously dealt with the trappings of another Romantic horror novel that instead resided close to Frankenstein's essence. Wileman is a natural for this type of setting, if anyone is. Not only that, but he also seems to be creatively stung by it, as his latest music has finally pushed him over the edge and beyond the realm of progressive rock, has seen his orchestration abilities become immensely sharpened, and has manifested itself into a harmonic language that was slightly hinted at on Constellations, but has finally exploded into brilliantly employed eerie dissonances and narrative chord progressions. In short, you get everything that you used to get with new Karda Estra releases, only better.

Particularly interesting in the development of Wileman's compositional scope is the fact that the purely abstract narrative that used to constitute his main arsenal of ideas has been excellently complemented with actual programmatic references this time around. Take the dark and unsettling waltz from "Lucy - Festina Lente," for instance, or the ghostly spine-chilling female chorus (all courtesy of Ileesha Bailey) theme that opens "Kisses For Us All" and reappears on occasion to give the piece structural and thematic cohesion, not to mention a disquieting nature. Tracks are no longer just broad-stroked impressions for Wileman, but rather an actual narrative that is accurately painted when need be. And he excels at the task, displaying a world that is full of ominous wonders and unspoken dangers solely by aural means.

In fact, much could be said about the particular details that make Voivode Dracula such an accomplishment in the history of Karda Estra, one of the most important being the dead-on use of oboe and English horn as carriers of certain melodies, but such a dissection would probably take much longer and be much more complicated than you, my loyal reader, would probably care to read. Suffice it to say that Wileman has created a work that will delight his followers, gain him new ones, and satisfy fanatics of Dracula. I would even hazard a guess that Stoker himself would have been rather pleased.

Similar artists: Dead Can Dance

Voivode Dracula (9:14) / Lucy ? Festina Lente (6:36) / The Land Beyond the Forest (6:07) / Mina (8:12) / Kisses for Us All (13:16)

Richard Wileman - guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion

Guest musicians:

Ileesha Bailey - vocals
Helen Dearnley - violin
Caron Hansford - oboe, cor anglais
Sarah Higgins - cello
Zoe King - flute, alto saxophone, clarinet
Michelle Williams - clarinet

A Winter In Summertime (1998)
Thirteen From The Twenty First (2000)
The Land Of Ghosts (2000)
Eve (2001)
Equilibrium (2002)
The Land Of Ghosts Vol. 2 (2002) (oop)
Constellations (2003)
Voivode Dracula (2004)
Alternate History (2004)
The Age Of Science And Enlightenment (2006)
The Last Of The Libertine (2007)
Weird Tales (2009)
New Worlds (2011) (free album download)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 3rd 2005
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.kardaestra.co.uk
Hits: 870
Language: english


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