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Kastning; Kevin: Skyfields

Through his own greydisc label guitarist Kevin Kastning has now released over twenty albums and yet while I call him a guitarist, on his latest album, Skyfields, you may not even recognise what he does as guitar. Rather than the six, or even twelve string variety, what Kastning utilises on this solo outing is 15 string extended classical guitar and 36 string double contraguitar. If you've never seen either, then I suggest you seek them out as they are imposingly large, beautiful instruments. In many ways that's also an apt description of the music they, or more correctly, Kastning creates, the acoustic instruments used in flowing manner across the five part "Skyfields" suite. Instrumental in practice, there's still a lyrical ethos to the pensive, precise flavours that fill an inky void with sparkles and pin-pricks of unexpected colour, and yet in most cases the results feel almost downcast in nature. This isn't depressive, or depressing music, but then neither is there much of a smile raised and certainly never a playful jape revealed.

Across the hour's worth of plucked sound you are taken on a journey that mimics the forming and dissolving of clouds and while Kastning never promotes the theory that Skyfields is conceptual, it's quite easy to form that conclusion. Add in that the stark, lonesome setting allows the picked out notes to need no counterpart to convey their message and the more obvious melodies and flow you may expect from a 'guitar album' simply never appear. Instead you're left hanging on the space between the notes almost as much as you are the path they create. It's intense stuff and impossible not to admire. Yet as someone who spends much more of their time in the world of more conventional songs, it can often feel as if there's simply not very much going on.

Skyfields is an album for those willing to venture to the edges of what most consider to be the soundscapes they'd relax to (relaxing never seems to be on the agenda of this album, even if it is sedate in pace). If that is a place you like your musical tastes to reside, I suggest you take a trip on what Kevin Kastning has created here. Everyone else however may simply wonder why there's so little to grasp on to as they hunt for almost intentionally concealed satisfaction.

Track Listing
1. Skyfields I

2. Skyfields II

3. Skyfields III

4. Skyfields IV

5. Skyfields V

Added: July 19th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Kevin Kastning online
Hits: 1969
Language: english

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