From the start, the delicate guitar intro to The Veil shows a more gentle and introverted side of Karda Estra mainman Richard Wileman in his first, nominally at least, solo venture. Elements of the more elaborate Karda Estra sound, including Amy Fry’s enigmatic clarinet, add depth and variety to the music, but there is a very different feel to this release.
The pieces are all brief – too brief in fact, giving merely a snapshot of what Richard might have up his sleeve for a full scale solo work – the second being a venture into singer/songwriter territory with a beguiling song which is delivered beautifully, Richard’s easygoing voice adding just the right amount of world-weariness.
So, the question is, as Karda Estra is Richard’s project and he can take it in whichever direction he wishes, why does he need to release under his own name? Richard explains this as, “… kind of what follows KE now. I still obviously have interest in instrumental music, but I’m enjoying songwriting again too… I have a few new songs either written and/or recorded and sung them live informally. So both a bit of a change but not completely giving up on KE elements I still enjoy.” As such, Ghost sits comfortably alongside the Karda Estra discography, and we’ll have to wait and see whether Richard’s solo work breaks away in a direction entirely distinct from KE.
Ensuring continuity with his main body of work, the final two tracks are reworkings of themes from previous Karda Estra pieces. Andromeda Variations for Guitar follows on very nicely from Ghost and revisits Andromeda Approaches from The Seas and the Stars in a vibrant solo guitar version filled with the mystery of the original. Finally, Chaos Theme for Clarinet, Amy returning for the melody line, in what is as expected a clarinet re-imagining of a track which originally sountracked the end titles to the film Chaos in 2000, previously appearing on the Alternate History and Land of Ghosts compilations. It’s a choice pick of an obscure piece that deserves wider hearing, slinky clarinet replacing oboe in a stripped down version that sounds much more contemporary than the original.
As to potential future developments, “Small steps… I don’t have much free time, but doing bits and bobs”. We’ll just have to wait and see where Richard’s muse takes him next, but as a brief peek into his current thought processes the immaculately presented Ghost EP is as intriguing as any of his work, although the brevity of the running time leaves you wanting more.
01. The Veil (2:14)
02. Ghost (3:34)
03. Andromeda Variations for Guitar (1:56)
04. Chaos Theme for Clarinet (3:32)
Total time – 11:16
Written, Performed and Produced by Richard Wileman
Amy Fry – Clarinet (tracks 1 & 4)
Record Label: No Image Records
Date of Release: 31st August 2017