From the shimmering guitars that introduce Particles of Light, you’re immediately on notice that there is something distinctly ‘other’ about this collaboration between the Prince of Gong, Kavus Torabi, and Karda Estra’s uncanny composer and solo artist, Richard Wileman.
Heaven’s Sun contains only two tracks, each running to an impressive 19 minutes, with a rich vein of mystical orchestration and found sounds colouring their progress. There are set-piece songs embedded along the way, but in unorthodox ways, often split with parts placed within other songs, woven into the fabric to give the pieces a convincing completeness. Particles of Light sees a mix of acoustic and electric guitar tones take us into the first vocal section, Richard and Kavus taking alternating verses, each adding their own personality and coming together to duet on the choruses. The distinctive nature of each of their compositional contributions suggests which bits were written by whom, but who knows whether that is entirely accurate as the piece evolves. That initial song frames a fragile Kavus piece that suggests a hidden world within a world, the integration of ideas making this album a much more interesting listen than it might have been as a collection of individual tracks.
The elements and tones bring to mind the pair’s individual work, but brought together it opens new possibilities. Dulcimer adds a haunting quality that is well set in the swirling mysticism of strings and keyboards, ghostly vocals adding to the ethereal nature as an atmospheric soundtrack evolves. It’s symphonic in breadth and realisation, a journey through the imagination that holds the attention throughout. Time really does lose all meaning and it’s over before you know it.
Richard is an old hand at the spooky soundtrack and knows how to build atmospherics, and Kavus seems to take great glee in being able to contribute his ideas. Guitars return for a melancholic shift, gently swirling around each other in liquid form before Kavus leads the next set-piece, which sounds like it could have come from a Knifeworld album. It’s spacey and elevating but with one foot remaining grounded, merging into one of Richard’s songs that accentuates that feel whilst adding new colours and textures. The two distinct pieces are beautifully integrated to flow back and forth to mesmerising effect, moving effortlessly into a beautiful piece of Karda Estra orchestration, with Amy Fry’s oboe adding new sounds to bring the first half of the album to a majestic and magnificent close.
The Derelict Creation is well-named, and a different beast entirely. Largely instrumental, it opens on a more desolate soundscape, a bleak landscape of devastation caused by some undefined calamity. But there is movement amid the ruins, undefined but distinct, gradually emerging into electric guitar, which soars over plucked acoustics and toy piano. The oboe again adds warmth to the desolation and there are signs of hope, Kavus’ guitar moving into a rhythmic dance. It becomes quiet once more, bubbling sounds and fragments of instrumentation piercing the void in an extended slow-build coloured by the whirring of machinery. An electric piano picks out a cyclical theme, embellished as it proceeds, resolving into treated organ and opening out into an expansive sweep highlighted by brass. Finally, Kavus’ voice emerges in a spiralling song that hints at the cause of the dereliction, again flowing into a song from Richard and then back again. The arrangement is once again fascinating.
And it’s over before you know it.
The way this album actually seems to shift time when you immerse yourself in it is remarkable. I’ve not yet listened to it and been anything other than amazed at where 40 minutes can go in the blink of an eye, and that’s a definite sign of quality.
If you have a liking for the work of either of these musical mavericks, you’ve no doubt already got hold of a copy of this album, and I heartily recommend it to anyone with a liking for songs with that additional je ne sais quoi that live in a world of their own. There’s a definite ‘songs within a soundtrack’ vibe that works very nicely, taking elements of each’s solo endeavours and weaving them together into a true collaborative work. It’s a fascinating album that lives in its own time and space, not raucous and in your face but subtly inviting you in, and paying rich rewards if you let it flow over you completely, and as such it should be treasured. Music to inspire heart and mind: this is why I do the reviewing lark.
01. Particles of Light (19:46)
02. The Derelict Creation (19:04)
Total Time – 38:50
Kavus Torabi – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Richard Wileman – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Amy Fry – Clarinet, Vocals
Caron Hansford – Oboe
Mike Ostime – Trumpet
Record Label: Believers Roast
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 2nd June 2023