Composer Richard Wileman has claimed he was persuaded to ‘come out of retirement’ for this new Karda Estra album, although given that his previous outing, 2013’s Mondo Profondo, dropped barely 18 months ago, his has been a brief hiatus.
But his head seems to have journeyed even further out than usual during that time, as Strange Relations is a seriously trippy affair, full of spacey avant-jazz, wrong-footing anti-rhythms and free-form instrumental exploration. That’s surely partly down to the co-writing contributions of Muffins drummer Paul Sears, whose stuttering, scattershot percussion is all over the six-track suite that makes up the first three quarters of the album. Pick of these is the nine-minute Strange Relations 5, its staccato timpani and echoing guitar shot full of foreboding, with haunting horns and airy banks of ghostly female vocals. You’re not sure whether to feel soothed or unsettled by it. To ease into it, you could start with the final two tracks, Ylla and The Wanton Subtlety Of Monna Tessa, which offer gentler, less jarring slopes of meandering, melancholic soundtrack textures. Either way, this is music in which to get lost, then find yourself all over again.