Spontaneous disturbance of inner peace as a way to look beyond the clouds.
No man’s land is where Kevin Kastning’s imagination is always headed to roam, and it’s this spiritual place’s uncertainty that makes his trips so riveting. The American artist’s second solo album in almost three decades, “Skyfields” – a follow-up to 2015’s "Otherworld" – won’t be lost among his couple of dozen records as it may be KK’s most “in the moment” work: laid down live in the studio with no overdubs and no treatment of original sonics. With Laotzi’s quote “Change it, and you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it” as the only rule to drive them, the five epic parts of a titular suite exist rather ephemerally, and what could seem abstract isn’t formless in such circumstances.
It’s the entire picture – rendered rich by use of 36-string Double Contraguitar and 15-string Extended Classical – that matters here, pregnant pauses creating tension in the exotic pseudo-patterns in “Skyfields I” before broken baroque pieces are revealed, and “Skyfields II” is picking up this fragility in a suspended filigree fashion, translucent and full of promise. And the promise is fulfilled on “Skyfields III” with an unhurried yet delicate, tender even, procession of dewdrop notes, while “Skyfields IV” – the shortest cut on display – is sparsely serious as if it was anticipating a storm. And “Skyfields V” is the storm – seen from the eye of the hurricane, as smithereens of a dream spin around in slow motion.
Still, the overall impression is one of vapor trails being observed – not toxic yet intoxicating. These skyfields are ready for reaping.