Released in late summer last year, the Ghost EP was the briefest of calling cards to mark the start of Richard Wileman’s musical career outside the Karda Estra brand, within which he has worked for the last 20 years. This could be seen as a shift to a solo career in name only, as Karda Estra has involved Richard doing most of the work himself, but branching out has allowed him to widen his horizons, taking in a hitherto undisclosed singer/songwriter persona amongst other things.
Whereas Karda Estra’s music could be described as a mix of Gothic classical, atmospheric soundscape and chamber rock, Richard has chosen a more stripped down approach for his solo work, as exemplified in opening track Ghost, and Wine of the Cosmos later in the set, voice and acoustic guitar accompanied by occasional textures of electric guitar, subtle percussion and other additions. It’s appealing and haunting, an extension to Karda Estra rather than a completely new direction.
All of the tracks from the Ghost EP are included here, along with the Mephisto Portrait single released last October, but with Veil we get the full picture of where Richard’s solo work differs from Karda Estra. Last Grains initially sounds like Karda Estra, due to the depth of the sound field and the arrangement of the backing, but the predominance of acoustic guitar and the harmonising vocals of Richard and Amy Fry set it apart. The Sea Witch is more reminiscent of KE, clarinet and brass featuring in a deft and atmospheric instrumental. It’s a beautifully put together piece, as one would expect, and adds to the otherworldly backdrop that is a constant feature of Wileman’s music, as evidenced in the delicate spookiness of Mephisto Portrait and Alice Afternoon‘s ‘music for a film that hasn’t been made yet’. It’s all a very seductive mix. Likewise, Unmarked on Any Map takes all of the elements at Richard’s disposal and finds a suitably beguiling home for them.
Amy’s clarinet gets the lead role for Cassiopeia, a delightful and delicate piece, light as a feather but full of detail, and Introduction And Ceres where it winds beautifully around the acoustic guitar.
Three Occultations is not as dark as you might suspect, Richard’s voice and piano to the fore, with touches of brass hinting at a skewed ’60s vibe. Another interesting diversion is the cover of Paul Giovanni’s The Tinker of Rye from the soundtrack to the classic 1973 horror film The Wicker Man, Richard and Amy’s voices working well in duet. Redacted from the Bandcamp version of the album as it contravenes their policies on only offering original music, it’s a fun retelling of probably the most suggestive and lewd song ever written; innocent enough on the surface, it’s positively obscene underneath!
The album concludes with another surge of Karda Estran oddness in the epically foreboding Golgotha Dancers, bringing to a close a quite lovely experience that takes the listener down a number of paths, all linked but with their own distinctive feels. Richard has successfully integrated his previous work into a future which is bright with possibilities, enthusiasts for his existing catalogue can buy with confidence and it will hopefully encourage new listeners to explore his wonderful musical world.
01. Ghost (3:34)
02. Last Grains (3:48)
03. The Sea Witch (3:21)
04. Mephisto Portrait (3:53)
05. Cassiopeia (3:33)
06. Three Occultations (4:15)
07. Andromeda Variations For Guitar (1:56)
08. Chaos Theme For Clarinet (3:32)
09. Unmarked On Any Map (3:26)
10. The Veil (2:14)
11. Introduction And Ceres (2:25)
12. Wine Of The Cosmos (2:40)
13. Alice Afternoon (4:32)
14. The Tinker Of Rye (2:26)
15. Golgotha Dancers (1:45)
Total time – 47:20
Richard Wileman – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Samples, Percussion, Bouzouki, Vocals
Amy Fry – Clarinet, Vocals
Jo Court – Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
Lauraine Phelan – Trumpet
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 16th February 2018