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Kevin Kastning Mark Wingfield: Dark Sonatas

Whether intentionally or not, when I picked up Dark Sonatas by Contra-Soprano, Contraguitar, Extended Barotine and Alto guitarist Kevin Kastning and electric guitar player Mark Wingfield, I initially thought this release (and the Kastning, Carl Clements album Nowhere, Now Here released almost simultaneously) were both from the hands of the ever busy ECM label. However even with remarkably similar imagery, type-face and design to ECM's output, these albums actually arrive in our hands via Greydisc. However it does have to be said that if you enjoy much of the more eclectic, genre pushing that ECM indulge in, then you will also revel in the dark, atmospheric brood of Dark Sonatas.

Less a collection of songs and more an exercise in expressing emotions and atmospheres, this pair of "guitar explorers" seem intent on making unsettling, unnerving soundscapes which constantly shape shift and evolve, while always remaining dark and uncompromising. Yes, this is two guitarists going head on, and easy listening it is not. Rather Kastning's acoustic work prances and darts from idea to idea, never settling, never satisfied, while Wingfield offers sparkles of light, interspersed by scything feedback and stabs of sound. It is deep, foreboding, for the main devoid of melodic structure and unapologetic for being so. For some the lack of relief, or a willingness to open the door to inclusiveness will be the disengaging point, allowing them to dismiss this album as almost a random collection of notes blurted out and failing to be organised, while to others this will be the soundtrack to isolated, concentrated times, the weaving of ideas inviting new interpretation on every listen.

For me, the overriding feeling is that I am left impressed by what has been created here, yet somehow uninspired to remain engaged for lengthy periods of time. Ultimately while I can appreciate the layers of sound and the scope and vision contained on this album, I can't see myself ever being cajoled to revisit it on anything like a regular basis.

Track Listing
1. Incipit Opscurum
2. Sonata Tenebrae No. 1
3. Illustratio Triocha I
4. Contrapunctus Opscurum I
5. Langsam Velata
6. Andante Sostenuto
7. Sonata Tenebrae No. 2
8. Contrapunctus Opscurum II
9. Allegro Cimmerian
10. Sonata Tenebrae No. 3
11. Sonata Di Scuro No. 1
12. Sonata Di Scuro No. 2
13. Illustratio Triocha II

Added: November 2nd 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Kevin Kastning Online
Hits: 1476
Language: english

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