Band: Karda Estra
Band Website: www.kardaestra.co.uk
Label Website: www.gft.cyclops.co.uk
Release Date: 2008
A few years back I used the term Chamber Rock to describe the music of Karda Estra and while that’s somewhat accurate it could also easily be described as symphonic or soundtrack because all three of these styles are heard. Karda Estra’s 11th disc entitled The Last of the Libertine continues to deliver a unique and captivating musical performance unlike any other band I can think of. This is a concept album based on the idea of a man who sold his soul in exchange to be able to live a life of excess. While in no way a morality play, the music here finds the man at the end of his life and full of regret.
Karda Estra revolves around the musical talents of Richard Wileman who not only is the composer and arranger but also performs the majority of the music (guitar, bass, keyboards, bouzouki, rastrophone & percussion). Wileman once again has the able musical assistance from some very important players, namely; Ileesha Bailey (vocals), Helen Dearnley (violin), Caron Hansford (oboe, cor anglais), Louise Hirst (trumpet) and Zoe Josey (flute, saxophone). Wileman may be the backbone with this music but there is no question these other performers provide so much in terms of melody, harmony and subtle textures.
As on previous releases the primarily instrumental music of Karda Estra has the effect of being the soundtrack to some non-existent movie. Tracks such as “Atom of Warmth” (5:26) have chords that sound like a James Bond moment before the track moves onto to something else. The arrangement here are totally symphonic with the predominant lead instruments being the tenor saxophone, flute and violin. There is an over riding sense of melancholy which to me perfectly conveys the sense of regret felt by the hero of the story. The other musical element that runs through the disc isn’t so much an instrument as it is Bailey’s ethereal vocalizations. While much of the CD’s eight tracks tend to be softer, the title track “The Last of the Libertine” (5:44) also features some rather stinging guitar structured around a rather haunting musical theme. The next track “Black Sun” (6:23) starts softly with only a couple of instruments, classical guitar and some keyboard ambience before other instruments begin weaving their way into the melody. The music of The Last of the Libertine goes from spacious to lush, from melodic to spooky, from grand and majestic to hesitant and melancholy.
I’ve said it before, but this is one of those bands I love. The music is so powerfully moving and emotionally stirring. If you enjoy the music of bands such as The Enid, although not quite as bombastic as they can be, I heartily recommend you try Karda Estra and this disc The Last of the Libertine would be a great place to start. Highly recommended.