The First Realm: Reviews and Quotes
"For The First Realm, I have never heard you play better. Again and again you attempt daredevil
feats of improvisational and technical abandon and always somehow manage to pull
them off without faltering.
This is not only a different branch of your work, but a different branch of music. A sort of “classical” music—but from a planet that never was. In a word, outstanding. I love this album."
"I think your playing on The First Realm is just incredible. I'm constantly blown away by what you're doing. Your playing has really reached to new and higher levels both in terms of invention, thematic composition, and technique. You're just flying on your instrument on all the tracks, it's amazing. You are, to my ears, on another level. You create amazing musical vista after amazing musical vista. what you are doing is just so amazing and compositionally powerful."
- Mark Wingfield (UK)
Kevin Kastning & Soheil Peyghambari - The First Realm (Greydisc 2021)
The nature of the album paired
with the Iranian clarinetist Soheil Peyghambari is different: it is in fact the
first collaboration between the two artists and according to the liner notes,
the agreement between the two was such that it could evolve into an ongoing
project like the one with Wingfield or with other colleagues.
As always, these are elaborate compositions that develop around ten minutes each, but without electrical and piano connotations: here Kastning dedicates himself only to his creatures, the double-necked Contraguitar (a sort of guitar that is played vertically like the double bass and has thirty-six strings), and the hybrid classical guitar, which has seventeen strings, in
spite of superstition. Soheil Peyghambari, who lives between his country and France, has a shorter curriculum, being younger, but his productions have already aroused many interests in the fusion field, and it did not go unnoticed in the ears of Kastning who last January (the record is therefore very fresh from recording, as well as printing) wanted him by his side.
The result of the collaboration is a disc with acoustic and dark atmospheres in which the brightest tones of the American's multi-strings combine with the very low tones of the bass clarinet of his partner. If in the album with Wingfield we can talk about soundscapes, in this the classification escapes and the address seems to be more closely related to that conception of contemporary classical music so dear to the guitarist.
- Late for the Sky Magazine (ITALY)
Kevin Kastning & Soheil Peyghambari - The First Realm
Kevin Kastning, American guitar wizard - both in the skill of
the game, and ingenuity in creating new versions of the instrument - our readers
have already learned from reviews of his albums Ethereal IV with Sandor
Szabo and Balász Major and Rubicon I with Mark Wingfield. But we meet
with his new partner on this project, The Iranian clarinetist Soheil
Peyghambari, for the first time. So, a few words about him. His first album
Assumption was warmly received in both of these countries and brought Soheil
the first awards. It is clear that the young Iranian is still significantly less
known on the international stage than his eminent American partner, but the fact
that Kastning wanted to play a duet with him, already says a lot about his
talent and potential.
The First Realm album, their first experience of co-creation, was recorded in New York and Tehran. Mixing and mastering was carried out in Hungary by an old friend of Kevin's, Sandor Szabo, and the cover of his album musicians owe to the Russian Georgi Korunov - this is an example of musical globalization, in principle characteristic of today's world. But let's go directly to the music. The combination of Kastning's unusual guitars with Peyghambari clarinets (he played here on both the usual and low-voice bass clarinet) is unusual in itself, which has already given the sound of the album a unique specificity. The album features only five tracks, long, extended canvases that Kevin loves so much (three out of five run over ten minutes). If usually Kastning gravitates to ambient style, his Iranian partner unexpectedly introduced into the music (especially on the bass clarinet) features dramatic, emphatically emotional, which, I confess, I did not expect. The music of the album, in my opinion, only benefited from it. Nevertheless, the ambient remained its basis, as, indeed, the definition of "modern classical music" here will also be quite appropriate. In any case, it is a very curious work, worthy of your attentive listening.
- Jazz Square Magazine (RUSSIA)
Kevin Kastning & Soheil Peyghambari - The First Realm
I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve listened to Kevin’s music recently. Maybe a few years or more. I’m not sure. So it’s time for to delve my toes into the water to see what I had been missing. While we’re living in tricky times since everything came to a screeching halt in March of last year when both COVID-19 and the Pandemic hit, Kastning has always given us a chance to lift our spirits.
His collaboration with Iranian clarinet player Soheil Peyghambari are brought together with the release on the Greydisc label, The First Realm. This album takes you into the smoky, heavy evenings around midnight that can make your skin crawl. Kevin and Soheil can take the listener into these deep, dark atmospheres that can send chills down your spine.
This here is a perfect combination. Between Kevin’s 36-string double Contraguitar, 17-string hybrid classical guitar, and Peyghambari’s Bass and B-flat clarinet is like thunder and lightning that would hit at the right moment. When you listen to The First Realm you can almost feel a pin drop as Soheil plays his clarinet by channeling the late Lol Coxhill and some of the arrangements that David Bedford would have written for him.
It’s almost going into the dark secrets that Alice had left behind during her time in Wonderland and thru the Looking glass, but it is the nightmarish quality of going into the heavy forests. And it is a place that you do not want to go near. If you do, it can bring out these horrifying visions. But Kevin and Soheil are here to take the listener into that area to help them confront their demons once and for all.
This was another challenge for Kevin to tackle. And with The First Realm, it is part middle-eastern, free-jazz, neo-classical, and a movie inside our heads. I hope that he continues to give us more brainstorming ideas in the roaring ‘20s and hopefully once everything is back to normal, we will one day see him perform again in front of a live audience.
From the Other Side of the Room (US)
Kevin Kastning & Soheil Peyghambari -- The First Realm (Greydisc,
Guitar and Bb & Bass Clarinet. My two favorite instruments: guitar and bass clarinet. Maine based guitarist Kevin Kastning's is paired up here with Iran/France based Soheil Peyghambari on their first recorded collaboration The First Realm. Like the previous album, it features Kastning on an assortment of unusual guitars that he has invented, which extend the standard range of the instrument in multiple directions. Peyghambari's clarinet meanwhile adds its own expressive range to the mix. Opening track 'Sleep Memory Walking' starts off in the lower registers of one of Kastning's extended guitars, shortly thereafter joined by soft, low tones from Peyghambari. The two engage deliberately and offer gently unfolding counter melodies, extending each other's melodic ideas. The next track 'As stranded declination tendrils' plays out differently. Kastning creates an ephemeral atmosphere for Peyghambari, who adds tentative, short flowing passages. Each of the tracks evolve with their own unique approaches, for example the closing track 'Perduring toward obsidian transferal' offers moments where the guitar provides a moving base-line low-end (I'd write bassline, but it would not be quite correct) under wisps of Bb clarinet, while the track 'Beside shadows calling forward' is grounded by harp-like arpeggios for the clarinetist to react to. The general mood is subdued and dreamlike, the dynamics are hushed and little changes make for big differences.
- Sound in Depth Magazine (US)
Kevin Kastning & Soheil Peyghambari -- The First Realm
Turning to jazz or contemporary music, I would like to draw attention to a special album. The composition of the band is not something you see everyday: Kevin Kastning (US) plays a 36-string double contra-guitar, while Soheil Peyghambari (Iran) plays bass clarinet. Perhaps needless to say, I can hear my own compositions on this album, which I was able to listen to in the WAV format sent by the label. The formation plans to cooperate in the longer term, which obviously means newer discs.
AVX Cafe (HUNGARY)
"On The First Realm, you two are are pretty much in perfect synchronicity. Really nice work, very impressive! Your playing is superb, I can rely feel the fun you had."
- Dieter Kaudel
K&K Pickups (US)
Suigeneria Music [BMI]