Here's one in the eye for those doubters who savage the internet as a good source of revenue for musicians, as well as for those who are cynical about the ability of lone musicians to compose and play fine music. Ukrainian Antony Kalugin, whose project Sunchild is, was "discovered" on the internet in 2005 by Will Mackie of Caerllysi Music in the UK. Will has both inspired and supported Antony in his endeavours since. Antony had started as a lone musician in 1998, gaining experience and confidence, before bringing other musicians on board, as he does with Sunchild. His other projects are called Karfagen and Hoggwash, as well as having a "new age" album released under his own name.
The Invisible Line is Sunchild's second album, following on from the double-CD Gnomon (2008). For this project Antony has invited a significant number of other Ukrainian musicians to assist him. The result, on the strength of The Invisible Line, is a sumptuously orchestrated piece of symphonic progressive rock that is following the Pink Floyd, modern-Marillion line, soundscape space that is now populated by peers such as Pendragon.
There's a couple of minor irritations on The Invisible Line but they pale into insignificance when compared with the excellence of the music. Since about 2001, Antony has written lyrics and sung in English. This is a boon to English speakers of course and outweighs the slight distraction of his strong accent. Another minor distraction is that on "Raindrops" it sounds for a time as if he is singing with cotton-wool in his mouth; but again, I'd rather have the colour of the vocal melodic line than a totally instrumental album.
In any case, these minor distractions vanish under the onslaught of some inspirational composition and arrangement. Compositionally, this may be familiar territory, but Antony's skill with the orchestration arrangements adds much beauty and interest to these eleven pieces. Some of the highlights include the occasional use of a female vocalist, Olya Kaganyuk, to complement Antony's singing; and the use of sax, oboe, trumpet and other similar instruments within the arrangements. Couple to that melodic writing of the highest order and you have the ingredients for an album of very beautiful music.
The passage in "Raindrops" with the sax and the female vocalisation is very Pink Floydian but very beautiful. On "A Moment in Time", the section with the trumpet and piano is sublime. "Time & The Tide" excels: first in heavenly melody, then gorgous harmonies, then more trumpet work, working beautifully in combination with the keys. "Recollections" is a short folk-rock linking piece with a baroque feel. Picking up, "Line in the Sand" starts with a stunning vocal passage: female lead, then wonderful harmonies; has some of the most pleasing rock guitar I've heard on a symphonic album for a very long time indeed, as well as some fine passages with sax - brilliant! To end the album, "The Invisible Line Part 2" treats us to another beautiful melody in the opening phase and a strong rock ending with the guitars and sax battling it out in time-honoured fashion.
There's much more other than these brief highlights to enjoy. If you're a fan of symphonic progressive rock then I can recommend this Sunchild album without hesitation. It is my introduction to the music of Antony Kalugin and he has made a positive impression - I will be looking out for some more!
1) Postcards from the past (pt1) (1:40)
2) The invisible line (pt1) (6:22)
3) Raindrops (6:29)
4) Amalgama (5:08)
5) A moment in time (5:13)
6)Time & the tide (11:20)
7) Fading light (3:31)
8) Recolections (1:33)
9) Line in the sand (14:36)
10) Postcards from the past (pt2) (5:20)
11) The invisible line (pt2) (8:21)