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KEVIN KASTNING/ SOHEIL PEYGHAMBARI – THE SECOND REALM (2024) (Greydisc)

An international enterprise involving: Kevin Kastning on 36-string double contraguitar (which he invented), 24-string double subcontraguitar, 30-string contra-alto guitar, 17-string extended hybrid classical and 12-string contraguitar (Yes, you read that right!). Kevin studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston (and privately with PAT METHENY), and has composed more than 200 pieces for soloists and chamber groups, with a discography of over 50 albums AND Soheil Peyghambari who studied clarinet and music composition at Tehran Conservatory of Music. On this album he plays bass clarinet and Bb clarinet. Sandor Szabo mixed and mastered the recording in Hungary. The cover art is by George Korunov from Russia.


There are six tracks: on ‘Aspect Element’ the instruments used are the 15-string subcontraguitar and the Bb clarinet. On ‘The Sphere of Further’ it is 12-string contraguitar with bass clarinet. ‘Dimension Scope Radius’ has the 3string contra-alto guitar and bass clarinet. On ‘The Prahlic Expanse’ Kastning plays the same, with Soheil on Bb clarinet. ‘A Delphic Purview’ features a 12-string baritone guitar with the bass clarinet, while ‘Aspect Element II’ has the 28-string double contraguitar with the Bb clarinet.


This fascinating album is full of ‘eastern promise’ (as on the first piece), as they say; ethereal, haunting interchanges between the instruments and a lot more accessible than you might imagine. The bass clarinet playing is particularly mellifluous (and to the front) on ‘Dimension Scope Radius’. The music overall is more atmospheric than melodic.


For guitar heads in particular who like to study technique and pure sound, “The Second Realm” will be a real treat - witness the twangy and harpsichord-like sounds in ‘On the Prahlic Expanse (the sustained pleading tone of the bass clarinet provides a marvellous counterpoint; this is the I am drawn to). The stirring arpeggios and harmonics on final number, ‘Aspect Element II’, are also most efficacious to my ears; that is not to say there is anything not to like. One of the great qualities of this music is that is it such an equal partnership; the chemistry between the players borders on alchemy.

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