Surprisingly hot on the heels of the last Karda Estra album, Strange Relations, comes another 20 minute EP.
In a rather succinct and acoustic 20 minutes The Seas and the Stars chronicles the collision between the Andromeda galaxy and our own Milky Way. “The eventual end of everything, a celestial intervention and a return to where everything began – viewed from an impossible, empty shoreline.” Gulp!
If nothing else that is an ambitious target but once again Richard Wileman is up to the task and has gathered together another music shop full of instrumentation to help him do it. With the assistance of Ileesha Wileman’s vocals and assorted blown things from Amy Fry, Richard has once again produced an exquisitely realised set of pieces that seldom rise above sedate in tempo but firmly hold the attention. And that is the key to Richard’s music: pay attention. Let your mind wander and you’re likely to miss something wonderful.
Given the premise you’d be forgiven for expecting epic but The Seas and the Stars is certainly not all cataclysmic end of everythingness. Wileman has constructed a suite that looks at the event as a somewhat detached observer rather than someone wrapped up in the whole thing, as if watching it all happen in microcosm within the confines of a bell jar. This is unimaginable force on a finite scale with intricacy, beauty and detail taking the place of bewildering destruction. Let’s face it, the event would be a wonderful thing to watch as a spectacle if you could remove yourself from thoughts of those consumed within but Wileman has managed to imbue the scene with an emotional touch that makes the experience all the more human.
From the opening strains of Tidal (which sort of reminds me, in a good way, of the original theme to The Clangers if I squint my hearing enough!) the scene is set, Lighthouse opening out the sound, piano at the heart surrounded by all manner of organic acousticals that entwine around it.
Having started out with the seas, we now move to the stars, the purity of Ileesha Wileman’s tone on Andromeda Approaches! reminiscent of the likes of Annie Haslam, adding an angelic narration to events of star melting significance. Multitracked, Ileesha becomes a heavenly choir serenading the end of everything – as far as we are concerned anyway. The sense of ‘well you can’t do anything about it’ comes through clearly and the inevitability brought home by the addition of the ‘!’ to the title is underplayed by the thoughtful delicacy of the piece. A hauntingly beautiful and immensely moving centrepiece.
The Big Freeze is at odds to the rest, atonal, dissonant and uncompromising but a beautifully realised conception that resolves itself into strident piano chords. The detailed embellishment makes it all work wonderfully well and I can’t imagine the effort taken to put all this together.
Moving into The Sleepers of Gliese an initial sense of foreboding is lifted by an acoustic guitar interlude, Amy’s clarinet forging an undulating pathway to another gorgeous vocal from Ileesha. The second half brings in percussion and brass effects to interact with the guitar for a fascinating section that fades to nothing. Finally we Return To Singularity, a rather bleak place, but I guess that’s what happens at the end of everything!
With Bandcamp tags of “experimental futurist gothic mondo progressive soundtrack Swindon”, what more could you ask for and limited to an edition of 51 copies get in there quickly if you want one. Andromeda Approaches!
01. Tidal (1:16)
02. Lighthouse (5:15)
03. Andromeda Approaches! (3:58)
04. The Big Freeze (2:11)
05. The Sleepers Of Gliese (6:07)
06. Return To The Singularity (1:20)
Total time – 20:07
Richard Wileman – Acoustic, Electric, Classical, Prepared & Bass Guitars, Keyboards, Melodica, Accordion, Kalimba, Appalachian Dulcimer, Rastrophone, Bouzouki, Glockenspiel, Percussion
Ileesha Wileman – Vocals
Amy Fry – Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Flute
Year Of Release: 2015