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Karfagen: Land of Green and Gold

Antony Kalugin is one busy guy. In addition to being a prolific solo artist (he released two albums in 2021, Stellar Gardener and Chameleon Shapeshifter, both of which made my top 25 of 2021 list, and has just come out with another, Rebirth), he is also the mastermind behind Karfagen. That band also seems to come out with an album (or two) just about every year. Their most recent is Land of Green and Gold.

As expected, the album contains three epics, “Land of Green” (which is divided into three parts), “Garden of Hope” (which is divided into two parts), and “Land of Gold.” They clock in at about 20 minutes, 12 minutes, and 13 minutes respectively. All three are good symphonic prog songs, but they lack power in spots and arguably are too similar. Vocals are rare on Karfagen tracks, but Kalugin delivers some fine, softly delivered lines on “Garden of Hope.”

Some reviewers have noted that the album has a pastoral feel at times, not unlike some of Anthony Phillips’ work. I agree. This is especially notable on the enjoyable opening track, “Kingfisher & Dragonflies (Part 3).” Why “(Part 3),” you might ask, when there are no Parts 1 or 2 on this album? Because those two parts appeared on previous albums, The Space Between Us from 2007 and Solitary Sandpiper Journey from 2010. This is the sort of indulgence that turns off prog critics, but it works fine for me. The album also contains a short track simply called “Pastoral.” Though acoustic, it sounds more like a Steve Howe classically inspired instrumental tune than anything off, say, Phillips’ The Geese and the Ghost or Wise After the Event.

The album concludes with the two-part “Land of Jazz,” officially listed as bonus tracks. They find Karfagen venturing into new and productive fusiony ground. Which is much needed. If I have any complaints about Karfagen, it’s that their albums can sound too much alike. Still, there is not one in their catalog that I dislike, with the possible exception of the aforementioned The Space Between Us.

Overall, Land of Green and Gold is a solid four-star album, and it features another fine almost fantasy-themed cover. If you are unfamiliar with Karfagen, this would be a good place to start.

Track Listing:
Chapter 1: Land of Green
1. Kingfisher and Dragonflies (Part 3)
2. Land of Green (Part 1)
3. Land of Green (Part 2)
4. Solis Festum
5. Land of Green (Part 3)
6. Pastoral
Chapter 2: Land of Gold
7. Garden of Hope (Part 1)
8. Land of Gold
9. Garden of Hope (Part 2)
Chapter 3: Land of Jazz (Bonus Tracks)
10. Land of Jazz
11. Land of Jazz (outro)

Added: June 26th 2022
Reviewer: Aaron Steelman
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 553
Language: english

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