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The Land Of Ghosts
Image 2000 Karda Estra 

(11 December 2000) The latest album from Richard Wileman's Karda Estra entitled The Land Of Ghosts is a collection of previously released tracks and previously unpublished rarities. Swindon-based Wileman has substantial earlier work that includes two albums by Karda Estra (review) and five by the progressive Renaissance-like group Lives and Times. His most recent work, including the Karda Estra albums and the final Lives and Times album features the stunning vocal work of Ileesha Bailey whose voice has been favourably compared to Sandy Denny previously. Lives and Times came to a conclusion at the end of 1997 when Richard and Ileesha gave birth to Karda Estra. The Land of Ghosts showcases Richard Wileman's soundtrack themes.

In The Land of Ghosts, Richard (piano sequences, classical guitar) is supported not only by Ileesha's vocal work but also Caron Hansford (oboe, cor anglais) and Zoe King (flute, saxophone). Instrumental arrangements are highly thematic throughout featuring guitar-based textures. Ileehsa's vocals seem to be denser and more heavily layered. And mixed up further she seems to be far more prominent in the arrangements than the earlier Karda Estra material.

The album recalls tunes from Karda Estra's first two releases A Winter In Summertime and Thirteen from the Twenty First. These tracks include "... From A Deep Sleep," "Transference," "Dorothea's Nightmare" and "The Ribbon Of Extremes." The album's first brand new track recorded earlier this year is the dynamic and moody "Avatar" which blends rhythmic percussion, straight guitar and heavily processed instrumental excursions with a brief yet lovely vocalise melody.

The dark moody opening title and vocally lush main theme from the movie Chaos occupy track positions six and seven on The Land Of Ghosts. One has to adore the way Richard Wileman has balanced the instrumental arrangements with Ileesha's vocals. We also enjoyed the sensual oboe solo in the main theme. It is complimented wonderfully by Ileesha's vocals and the saxophone part and is truly a wonderful main theme.

The Land of Ghosts includes two moody orchestrally arranged instrumental numbers written and released in 1993 and 1995 respectively for the Lives and Times albums. "Lizard Baby" appeared initially on There And Back Again (1995) while "Two Broken Circles" is from The Pull of a Tide (1993). Richard told us, "They point the way to the atmosphere of Karda Estra and I thought it would be nice to include them here." "Two Broken Circles" is an orchestral piece with classical influences while "Lizard Baby" is a harder edged piece. Neither of the latter two tracks have vocal parts.

Karda Estra is currently working on their new project that will be entitled Four Elements. Until its completion, the group's largely retrospective work The Land of Ghosts is certainly one to pay attention to. Based on demos our editors heard earlier this year, we are keen to hear tracks from the new project. Until then, this latest album is certainly worth further exploration. Visit the band's website for ordering information. It is a very nice listen!.

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