Antony Kalugin Project – A Message of Peace Tour (2024)


I have known for a long time that the sympathetic Ukrainian Antony Kalugin is a busy man and that sometimes makes it difficult for me because there is so much music released by this man that I sometimes can't keep up with it. All these projects have just as many names such as Karfagen, Sunchild and Hoggwash and to be honest, I don't think everything is equally good. Nevertheless, I have several CDs in my collection of various projects. I was very impressed by last year's Sunchild album, Exotic Creatures and a stolen Dream, and that was mainly because Antony has opted for pure prog rock on this album without too many jazzy influences and only a few saxophone parts.

Now there is a live album out with recordings of a concert in Alphen aan de Rijn from 2022 and I wasn't even aware that this recording existed, but what a mistake that is! Again triggered by the magisterial artwork of Igor Sokolskiy I decided to watch, and listen to,  a few songs on you-tube and my goodness this is incredibly beautiful.

Kalugin has put together a super setlist and also brought along a guitarist who really plays fantastic, Anton Barsukov. He also sings better and better and he has added a few excellent female singers to the line-up who also provide a beautiful picture optically as can be seen on the very nice images of the concert. (Strik/background magazine) It's an absolute shame I didn't attend this concert because I really missed out on something.

Alright, to the album. Right from opener Another Friday Night, the prog goes into the swing of things and it sounds really great. Beautiful keyboard solos alternate with equally beautiful guitar solos and this band changes atmosphere and tempo wonderfully as befits a good prog band. Okay, vocals technically it could be a bit tighter, but as soon as the ladies come to support this is no longer a problem. What I really like is the fact that there is a real band on stage in the classic line-up of vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass and drums and a few singers. That's it.

Invisible Line and Out of the Darkness are the highlights for me and are both of an unprecedented high level and the often somewhat sullen-looking Kalugin shows why he is seen by many as one of the better keyboard players within the genre. The first minutes of Invisible Line are beautiful with an orchestral intro from his Korg after which the band joins in and one great guitar solo after the other is played and the music changes from rock to sensitive and back again. Wonderful melodies and lyrics that describe the actual situation in Antony's homeland, such passion. Apparently, Out of the Darkness is Kalugin's favourite song and I understand why. This hitherto unknown song, for me,  is definitely a prog epic with all the trimmings. I would really label the style as pure neoprog.

There are several instrumental tracks between the songs with vocals and here too Barsukov and Kalugin distinguish themselves by providing technically advanced solos with buckets full of feeling and emotion. The song Father is so very moving even without lyrics and Amused Fair is not inferior to this.

Rain Drops is a somewhat shorter song with more than six minutes but the chorus is so catchy and bombastic with wonderful harmony vocals that it becomes a real hymn and of course full of tasteful guitar work, so beautiful. Closing track A Day without Rain is even more beautiful, what an euphoric melody and for me, that's how you close a concert.

The rhythm section is really good and tight and that makes the swirling music even better. The shorter songs are also good and it doesn't matter which Kalugin project they come from, it all really sounds like a cohesive unit and that's a real accomplishment.

And then about the sound quality, which is really good and that is remarkable because I don't assume that there was an infinite budget on the table to record this concert. I've heard more than enough live recordings from more renowned bands that don't even sound half as good.

If it hasn't become clear yet, I can recommend anyone who loves Arena, Pendragon and other neoprog bands to listen to this album. You'll be surprised and it's about time Antony started getting an even bigger fan base because he really deserves it.

Why am I so late with this review? That's because the CD version of this concert is, as far as I know,  only just available and as you know, I'm old school and I still prefer to listen to the physical product. And again I am very impressed with the artwork despite the small size which is bound to the CD format.

Dear readers, go listen to this album and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do and support this sympathetic man by buying some music from him.


Music 90

Cover 92