A Far Reflection: Reviews
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements - A Far Reflection
"For this go-round, eclectic acoustic guitarist Kevin Kastning has chosen to partner with woodwinds specialist Carl Clements, performing on tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute and bansuri flutes (from India; like the Japanese shakuhachi, pitches are bent).
Playing the 36-string Double Contraguitar, and 30-string Contra-Alto guitar, sometimes with the aid of an E-bow, Kastning engages duets with Clements that are reminiscent of Ralph Towner's collaborations with Jan Garbarek - particularly because Kastning's guitars have doubled courses, a la the 12-string guitar. The music is quasi-impressionistic, favoring color and texture over chops and histrionics.
On average however, Kastning's harmonic language is rather more dissonant (with a sometimes steely edge) than that of the French school. The very low register of Kastning's custom guitars, however, sets this music apart. A Far Reflection certainly would be at home on the ECM label."
-- Progression Magazine (US)
Kevin Kastning - Carl Clements: A Far Reflection (greydisc)
"Kevin Kastning only just released a solo album and an album together with
renowned guitarist Mark Wingfield last year and now here is another duo release,
this time with Carl Clements. Both have worked together before and quite
successfully so. Kevin may be considered a master on the guitar, not in the
league of the Satriani's, Vai's, or other flashy players that are around these
days, but in the league where thoughtfulness go hand in hand with introspection
and a sense of pastorality. Carl Clements is an accomplished reed player who
plays both soprano and tenor saxophone and a variety of flutes.
Where Mark Wingfield's electric guitar provided quite the accent to Kevin's open playing before, here it is Carl who paints the picture with Kevin, again, providing the detailed and beautiful surroundings. Let's compare it to taking a ride on a bicycle through beautiful landscapes. Being all caught up in riding the bike, you might lose sight of what you're actually passing by, yet if you succeed in taking the surroundings in, only then it can really get to you. Thus, it does take some attention to fully take this album in.
Here, you can find yourself listening to the interplay between Carl and Kevin and wonder how they came up with the songs and how they recorded them. After all, the album is all about improvisation. And, even though they only are played by two people, they have managed to improvise in eleven tracks. In that, the two men have created an album that just flows from beginning to end. Dissonants come and go, but never just for being dissonant. It is an album that has Carl and Kevin complementing each other with instruments very different from each other. While jazz might be at the core of what is on the menu here, it is quite likely that this album will be liked by those into prog with an open mind for other types of music as well."
-- Dutch Progressive Rock Page
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements: A Far Reflection (Greydisc 2016)
"Last year I discovered and reviewed one of the most amazing guitarist and
one of his albums entitled Otherworld last year on the music of the other
side of the room. This year he released the album number 21 and his fourth time
working with the woodwind Carl Clements. Carl Clements plays Tenor / Soprano
Saxophone, Alto Flute and Bansuri Flute.
He received a BM in 1987 for Jazz Composition and arrangement at Berklee College of Music, one year of study that he finished it 26 years ago in the DMA program in World Music, New England Conservatory, PhD in Ethnomuiscogology in 2010 CUNY Graduate center on the thesis of Pannal Ghosh and Bansuri the twentieth century.
Is next to Kevin Kastning, Clements himself has played and recorded with people like Sundan Shor, Jean-Yves Jung, Latin Jazz Evolution of Ed Byrne and Alex Syndman. He has also released four albums with Crosscurrent and played at festivals, including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, New York and Boston to name a few. Now I am very new to the music of Carl Clements, but for me when I listened to Reflection Far, is a surreal touch between the music of Free Jazz, Avant-Garde, buzzing, World, House and classical.
He has a dark cavernous atmosphere that makes you feel that you are asking the sounds an abandoned house haunted. You can nearly hear a pin drop at this time something went wrong inside the house. The music really tough hit and both Clements and Kastning are the tone and the landscape of what is happening through 11 compositions they wrote and pointing at 70 minutes and 59 seconds.
With its Carl on wind and Flutes, I can hear aspects Lol Coxhill, Gheorghe Zamfir, Didier Malherbe (Gong) and Mel Collins of king Crimson ( lizard era). It sends shivers down my spine when I put the CD on and played all the way from beginning to end. Both of them gave me a chill throughout the entire album. It was nearly as whether something had crawled on the back of my neck tingle with cold to the bone.
Clements nail down, but he and Kevin are a team so it is a rivalry, but more collaboration and honor they have between the two of them. The development here is the sequences that is powerful, emotional, sinister, and raw materials. Overall, this is another achievement of both Kevin and Carl Clements Kastning. I hope that one day they could make a film score together.
Whether you like Free Jazz, Neo-Classical Music, Chamber Music and World Music, then dive in deep, dark caves and hidden A Far Reflection."
Olsen Webzine (Czech Republic)
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements: A Far Reflection (Greydisc 2016)
Adventurous sadness for guitar and reeds that, not trying to mirror each
other, focus on one’s inner world.
"Following down the path of their “an album a year” pattern to land on its fourth element, polymaths KK and CC explore introspection further on to give a progressively abstract bent to it. The duo’s limited instrumental palette may be deceptive, with two types of saxes and flutes at Clements’ disposal and up to 36 strings on Kastning’s frets, but their scope is not orchestral here: rather, the players’ sonic expansiveness touches emotional fringes of a mainstream melancholy to make sense of the record’s title. Inner turmoil is best examined from a distance as suggested by “A Misted Gaze Within” – vague yet enveloping – and what’s the best way to look at it if not to go for a sort of astral projection?
Still, whereas the faux-piano daubs color “The Swirling Return To Yourself” as a retrofuturistic baroque piece, there’s “An Open Window Of The Past” to let some air in on jazzy terms – well-structured improvisation, elegantly sustained notes – that become transparently vibrant in “Surrendering Realms Of A Near Presence.” The beginning of it all seems rather chaotic, though, “Should Not The Ancient” tapping into primal perception of tone, as sparse strum is wrapped in woodwind with no clear melody in sight, while a snippets of groove behind “Pretext And Figures” reveal a fabulously fractured tune in both high and low registers which is bound to embrace the ever-rarefied space and to get passed on to “Rendered In Forms” for a clearer view of the performers’ perspective.
Their interplay is tightly intricate in “From A Falling Gesture” where Kevin and Carl have equal exposure solo-wise, and that’s when inner dialogue turns external – just like a mirror is. It’s not easy to look at oneself from afar, and this is not an easy album to listen to, but it’s ultimately rewarding, if infinitely sad."
Let It Rock (USA)
Kevin Kastning + Carl Clements: A Far Reflection
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements: A Far Reflection
"The two musicians Kevin Kastning and Carl Clements have a prestigious shared past behind them. Carl Clements, saxophone and flute player, in the second half of the ’80s was a member of The Kevin Kastning Unit. In the last three decades they have worked on their own projects; however, they have had the opportunity to create some duo albums. The first duo album called Dreaming As I Knew was released in 2012. A year later, the album Nowhere, Now Here, then in 2014 the album Watercolor Sky followed it. Their latest album is A Far Reflection, a 70-minute long album and contains 11 tracks which shows that this time the average track time is between 6-7 minutes. The Kastning-Clements duo plays so fluently, without any effort, and how they react to each other's ideas is just brilliant. Their compositions have a very sophisticated harmonic world, due to Kastning's special and modern harmonic concept. Each piece is a story. We can explore episodes inside the compositions which are interpreted with high intensity. All the elements of the pieces show intelligent, consequent, unavoidable; and all these properties make the album so exciting. There are some pieces where we can experience the innovative ability of the two musicians, like An Open Window of the Past, The Swirling Return to Yourself, Constellation and Distance, and finally Surrendering Realms of a Near Presence."
KEVIN KASTNING & CARL CLEMENTS / A Far Reflection: Kastning takes his 36-string guitar to the opium den--or does he? His latest, a duet with sax/wind ace Clements finds them squaring off again and refusing to retrace any steps already taken. A mysterious audio excursion, these two modern masters seem to be in a small circle of contemporary musos that can take flight on a purely creative date and not have it run off the rails at some point. An introspective date that could counter intuitively widen their fan base, this is as much of a head trip of any of the genre's best from the 60s. Well done.
kastning / carl clements: a far reflection
(2016, cd, usa, greydisc gdr3529)
"Kevin Kastning and Carl Clements have a brand-new album out.
A Far Reflection" is the duo's fourth release on Greydisc Records.
The result is a beautiful voyage, directed by Kevin Kastning's 36-string double contraguitar, his 30-string contra-alto guitar and ebow, and by Carl Clements' tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute and Bansuri flutes.
A journey in sounds.
Combining the beautiful tone and a huge range of Kevin's guitars with Carl Clements' Bansuri flutes is unlike anything I heard before.
-- United Mutations (The Netherlands)
Kastning, Kevin and Clements, Carl: A Far Reflection
"Guitarist and guitar designer born in Kansas in 1961, with a strong successful musical training at the renowned Berklee College in Boston, Kevin Kastning is one of those musicians inventive, open to mixtures of genres and experimentation. A jazz instrumental strongly imbued with classical and acoustic music seems to be his favorite base. This prolific artist has released over twenty albums where he likes to meet other artists of his stature. Saxophonist and flutist Carl Clements, also passed by the Berklee College, is one of those. Besides the jazz at large, his interest is focused on Indian music he studied and practiced with Indian musicians. Teaching also occupies much of its activities. He has collaborated several times on stage and on record with Kevin Kastning. Acoustic and instrumentals, these eleven tracks, all of good quality, seen as a welcome breath of fresh air. Despite their fundamentally different original character, guitars and wind instruments are ideally blend in calm and serenity. Saxophones bring indisputable jazz tones, flutes soften the remarks and sometimes causes a welcome shift towards ethnic music, and towering guitars create a great fit due to their wide register through their positioning between guitar, lute, and harp. Periods of dialogue among instrumentalists at the top of their game are tasty and tasteful. Mutual respect shown throughout this invigorating trip. In the end, " A Far Reflection" is a balanced and successful album of undeniable finesse. The sensitivity of Kevin Kastning seems to fit perfectly with that of Carl Clements, even better than that of Mark Wingfield, although the level of compositions proves equal. Listening to this CD, I must admit that the image of Steve Houben appeared to me at every moment. It would be perfectly melted in this universe. Another time perhaps."
Music in Belgium (Belgium)
Kastning & Carl Clements: A
Mere months after the release of his first solo album Otherworld, Kevin Kastning reunites with collaborators of long standing on two new collections. They're both high-quality affairs that enhance the considerable discography the acoustic guitarist has amassed since he began releasing music in 1988.
No unusual concept drives A Far Reflection, Kastning's fourth Greydisc release with woodwinds player Carl Clements, but the result hardly suffers for its absence. The impression created is of two long-time friends coming together after a couple of years for the pure pleasure of creating music. And unlike the Wingfield set, the Clements release sees both participants playing a variety of instruments. Such change-ups add significantly to the album's effect, especially when a given track's character alters so much depending on whether Clements is playing saxophone (soprano and tenor) or flute (alto and bansuri); for his part, Kastning once again plays 36-string Double Contraguitar and 30-string Contra-Alto guitar, though in this case replaces the other album's classical guitar and mandolin with Ebow (on one track only, however).Recorded on two days in 2013 and 2014, the seventy-one-minute collection takes flight with a prototypical flight of fancy, “Should Not the Ancient,” wherein Kastning's 36-string Double Contraguitar nicely meshes with Clements' sinuous soprano. “Pretext and Figures” and “Solves Into Zero” prove memorable for the way the partners blend rapid unison playing and call-and-response expressions, with the dark timbres of the alto flute an ear-catching contrast to the chiming textures of the guitar. Even more arresting are the two pieces on which the Bansuri flute appears for the ancient character they add to the material; both “A Misted Gaze Within” and “Into the Early” sound like they could have been brought into being three hundred years back as much as a few years ago. Contemplative, meandering reveries such as “An Open Window of the Past” and “Surrendering Realms of a Near Presence” rub shoulders with pieces of a more animated disposition (e.g., “From a Falling Gesture”) on this excellent meeting of the spirits, and the two players are in suitably fine form throughout. Whether armed with a concept or not, Kastning's recordings, these two perfect examples, always reward one's time and attention.
Textura Magazine (Canada)
KEVIN KASTNING / CARL CLEMENTS - A Far Reflection
Within print magazine cloisters, it's true I've been condemnatory whenever negative criticism was called for over the last three decades, much more so than I've been in cyberzines, and then rhapsodically enthusiastic whenever something arose proving to be overtly charismatic no matter where I appear, but, well, that's the nature of an aesthete, so waddaya expect? I can't help myself, it's my nature. In that respect, I named the last Kastning/Clements outing, Watercolor Sky, as the #1 best release of 2014 in FAME and Perfect Sound Forever, something I'd never done before anywhere, as so few releases within an extremely gratifying avalanche of great musics each and every year has stood so far and so plainly out.
Well, guitarist Kevin Kastning decided to re-team with reeds player Carl Clements in the opening of 2016, and the result is once more extraordinary in so many ways that it's damnably frustrating to try to set down in print all the sidereal virtues. For starters, though, A Far Reflection at times exposits some of the jazziest spontaneous "compositions" and passages Kastning has ever participated in, music in the ECM vein that in the 70s created new classifications.
When the nail is driven and things come down to it, Kastning’s oeuvre is 'outside music' just as much as the work of Braxton, Subtonick, Teitelbaum, Ra, Morris, and others. The difference? Kevin’s FAR more informed by elder mannerist wonts than the just-named musos. He’s motivated by the absolute necessity to not only limn earthy/earthly depictions but also the fabulist dimensions within, beneath, and above them, providing the abundance of mysteries so attractive to fellow musicians and listeners.
Sax / flute player Clements also tops himself in a number of ways in Reflection, allowed a tremendous vista of narrative. Perhaps it’s the austere Garbarek-ish qualities flanking the guitarist’s Towner-esque neoclassicalism that's so riveting or maybe the sheer flood of literary essences ceaselessly arising and misting into successive landscapes Romantically eerie while familiar and oddly reassuring that composes the ear’s captivity. I'm quite sure my own past immersion in speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy) accounts as well, all Greydisc label issuances being so austerely kindred to the zenith works of Zelazny, Silverberg, Ashton Smith, Delaney, even Hodgson, Lovecraft, and Eddison, that keeps tugging the subconscious up into an ebon night of delirious perceptics.
On the other hand, there was brief golden music period in the 70s I often refer to, a time when Friesen, Stowell, Coryell, Oregon (blessed be their name above all others!), Horn, and a legendary roster of free-minded individuals pushed the walls aside and ushered in new vocabularies and syntax. That's precisely what's been resurrected in Reflection, that halcyon spark of…well, one cannot truly call it an era, though I do, as the span was too brief and then insufficiently resurrected (Kevin Eubanks gave it a great shot for a couple of CDs) - encasing the precious evanescent something that neither artist nor critic can name, a transitory estate wherein the depths of the human mind and spirit emerge, re-defining reality, saving us from the stultifying madness of now.
I will essay that only if one is of an advanced ethos and framework will one be able to relish just how trenchant this far-side set of opuses is, and I'll warn that what's required is a surrender of mind and soul to pure creativity, to cognizable lands unseen, to emotions rarely experienced, to sounds stirring primal racial memory, then turning it inside out, forcing a reconsideration of Nature and man's place in it. Only art has that power, and only certain individuals possess the discipline and unfettered freedom to elucidate not just mundane ecologies but transcendent planes and spheres as well.
With self-invented guitars (here: 36-string double contraguitar and 30-string contra-alto guitar, as well as, surprise of surprises!, an e-bow) wrought by exceptional luthiers, and with saxophones and alto and bansuri flutes, these two gents have re-surfaced and re-exalted a realm of music-making that could not possibly have been manifested by orchestral, chamber, or similar trad gatherings. True, Kastning’s been doing so all along for many years and gaining increased notoriety among cognoscenti here and abroad for it, but, as much as I'm enamored of all his work and pairings, these duets with Clements are pure arcane magic.
…and did I mention you get 70 minutes, a two-fer, in this CD? More, if you're able to get out of the depths of the couch after an ecstatic listen, I'll petition the upcoming Olympics committee to award you some kind of medal. I, however, won't be able to share it with you, as I'm still enstupored with a face-splitting, narcotic, hazy smile and have no desire to break the trance. If someone will make sure I get fed, showered, and obtain a change of clothes until further notice, I'll much appreciate it.
KEVIN KASTNING / CARL CLEMENTS
A Far Reflection
The 2016 CD release by the duo of Kevin Kastning and Carl Clements—A Far Reflection is one of the most sonorous yet challenging albums yet on the Greydisc label. Music fans may call this unique sound avant garde or experimental but unquestionably, the balancing act music they make is more like a hybrid form of 21st century neoclassical that can only come from the hands and minds of musicians who are totally in sync with each other. The music here is uniquely meditative and totally spacious and introspective, just to mention a few words that flute & sax player Carl Clements himself has used to describe their sound. Kastning’s use of the 36 string Double Contraguitar is so totally revolutionary sound-wise and can only be accurately described by actually listening to his playing of it. Clements has described Kastning’s unique guitar palette as being orchestral and rich in textures and after listening you’d very much agree with him. Speaking about A Far Refection in his 2016 interview on mwe3.com, Kastning states, “We wanted this record to be more actively contrapuntal, with additional lines moving in and out of each other”. Comparing their two recent albums, Clements adds, “It’s interesting to compare Watercolor Sky and A Far Reflection, as they both arose from a set of recordings done within the same time period. I think both represent a progression in our conception of our duo interaction. That said, on A Far Reflection, I think we chose tracks that reflect more overt diversity of character in terms of tempo, texture, varied forms of musical interaction, etc.” A Far Reflection is truly the most free-spirited album yet from the Kastning and Clements. From meditative soundscapes to a contrapuntal, free form mix of neoclassical and avant garde sound explorations, A Far Reflection is improvisational instrumental music at its 21st century best.
-- Music Web
Express 3000 (US)
Kastning, Kevin/Carl Clements: A Far Reflection
Kevin Kastning is an American guitarist born in 1961 in Kansas. He has built up a formidable body of work in the jazz genre but has also touched upon classical and chamber music. On his new album A Far Reflection he has teamed with Carl Clements who adds a variety of wind instruments like tenor and soprano saxophones and alto and Bansuri flutes.
Dissonant, haunting, moody and brooding are just a few words I can use to describe this music. With only two musicians you can well imagine the music is quite sparse with plenty of space between the notes. The tracks are quite similar to one another so describing individual tunes does seem to be a bit futile. I will say the first track "Should Not the Ancient" is representative of what you will find here; moody and spacious guitar notes blended with sax and flute exuding a grey-like quality that wraps the soundscape in a pastoral blanket of sound. Although I am not overly familiar with chamber music this certainly would seem a prime candidate. Other tracks seem born out of mystical properties and are more exotic, like the Eastern infused "Rendered in Forms".
Although there is a pastoral element at work, this is far from an easy listen and might require plenty of patience for the uninitiated. Whether or not I will reach for this again is almost beside the point as there is no doubting the prowess of the musicians involved hence the 3.5 star rating. If you dig acoustic music bordering on the ethereal, by all means check it out.
A Greydisc Records release.
Sea of Tranquility (US)
Kastning, Carl Clements, A Far Reflection
"Kevin Kastning, as this blog noted earlier in the year for another album, has created a wonderful new sound out of the 36-string double Contraguitar and the 30-string contra-alto guitar. The latest, a very uplifting duo recording with reedman Carl Clements, A Far Reflection (greydisc 3529), brings us another dimension in the universe of possibilities.
Carl has an explorative voice of his own on tenor and soprano saxes, alto flute and bansuri flutes. He has a beautiful sound on each instrument. It compliments Kastning's special sonarity in poetic ways. The deftly imaginative Kastning harp-guitar multiple sounding melodic-harmonic emanations have a wind counterpart on these thoroughgoing two-voiced improvisations that fulfill the sonic promises the music contains in potent reserve. You might say that the music comes to full completion through the silences between, before and after the music sounds. The space between the notes are an equal partner in all this. It is in the soundings and the silences working together that we feel palpably the musical space that is so integral to the magic of this duet set.
This is music of great atmosphere but also of intelligence, of creative sonic-decision making. Not only does the music speak in a lush carpet of sound, each strand interrelates finely to the others like a treasured hand-made rug from earlier times. And whether listening in broad terms or subjecting each set of phrases to microscopic scrutiny, the music bears forth with cohesion and depth.
In short, this is music of ravishing improvisational artistry, a seventy-minute adventure of near breathtaking presence. Kastning and Clements come through with a gem worthy of their considerable abilities. Hear this!'
Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog (US)