Eleven Rooms: Reviews

Kevin Kastning - Mark Wingfield: Eleven Rooms (greydisc)

"Kevin Kastning, who is most notably known for playing both a 36-string double contraguitar and a 30-string contra soprano guitar, joined forces again with Mark Wingfield. On this album, Kevin also plays classical guitar and mandolin while Mark Wingfield plays the electric guitar.

This is their fifth collaboration in album form. This time they took inspiration from paintings by Johannes Vermeer, the Dutch painter from the 17th century. Most famous perhaps for his Girl with a Pearl Earring, his work excelled in the duality of shadow and light and the balance between stillness and mystery on the other hand. They set off to get inspiration from eleven paintings in eleven rooms, hence the title. This album is the aural expression of their experiencing Vermeer's work.

The music on the album is mostly introspective and the eleven tracks are fine improvisations where light and shadow interplay all the time. Whereas Kevin provides the scenery or background so to say, it is Mark's electric guitar that paints the refined details in the whole of the aural picture. The background is never just that. Kevin's craftsmanship goes way beyond a mere background as the playing is always very warm and rich.

What struck me the most about the album, is how the two have managed to complement each other so easily: the album was recorded live, just in one go. Given that the tracks are all based on improvisation, that really made an impression. There is just that moment, just you and your guitars and you make it happen. It can only be there and then. That to me is the basis of the album's appeal: two great musicians finding a creative peak together in improvisation.

The music on the album does not per se qualify as progressive rock. Yet progressive the tracks are for sure. Whether you have your mind wandering off while listening to this music and reaching a dreamlike state or just enjoy the intricate instrumental parts, this is an enjoyable album."

-- Dutch Progressive Rock Page magazine (HOLLAND)
   July 2016


Kevin Kastning & Mark Wingfield: Eleven Rooms

"The collaboration between the the two guitar players Kevin Kastning and Mark Wingfield is not newfangled. The new album called „ Eleven Rooms” is the fifth album they recorded together. The first CD, the „ I walked into the silver Darkness” was released in 2011, then a year later the „ An Illustrated Silence „ followed. In 2013 the „ Dark Sonatas” and in 2014 the „ In Stories” came out, and now the „Eleven Rooms” is here.

Some kind of inherent calmness can be felt from this almost 70 minute long album. The compositions based on mutable music textures where the alternations of dignified pulsations and the more gentle parts create a good harmony on the album. Both players utilize the technical possibilities of their instruments. They use different way of playing techniques to make the music expressive. They are masters of their instruments. Their musical communications are constant dialogs and as such it makes their music so poetic. In spite of the extremely much colours they used in this album the end result is a very concentrated ,strong and homogenic music material. The main curiosity of the „Eleven Room” is the piece called „A Letter at a Window: Opening” . It determines at once the gripping and inward atmosphere which is always so typical for Kastning-Wingfield duo albums. The sometimes playful and sometimes deep compositions – in a strange and catching way- sound in a serene balance after each other.

We can find three tunes on the CD which built up in more parts like the three part „A Letter at a Window…”, as well as the 2 -2 part „Shadow and Folding” and „Balance in Light”. The acme of the album is the 15 minute long piece called „A Letter at a Window:Epilogue” which built up of rich and colourful musical ideas. The Eleven Rooms album features powerful effects, great contrasts, nice sounds, and precise playing."

-- Hangzasvilag Magazine (HUNGARY)
   May 2016


Kastning, Kevin/Mark Wingfield: Eleven Rooms

"Kevin Kastning has been very busy the last few years releasing albums at a fairly brisk pace. On his latest titled Eleven Rooms he again teams with English guitarist Mark Wingfield to produce an intriguing album of guitar sounds. Kastning is getting quite famous for his own custom made guitars, like the 36-string double contraguitar and 30-string contra-alto guitar. He also plays classical guitar and mandolin. Wingfield adds electric guitar.

This is one of those albums that you just need to sit back to and concentrate on the music. Kastning turns in another virtuoso performance as his delicate flutterings, arpeggios and chordal structures offer highlight after highlight. Wingfield compliments his style nicely offering mostly softly lit ambient lines and ethereal textures.
The album was influenced by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), so you can think of these pieces as impressionistic soundscapes, improvised by the artists. The paintings were placed in different rooms, hence the album's title.
Instrumental guitar does not get much more complex than this as the different layers create colour and depth, just like the paintings these pieces are based on. Fans of avant-garde guitar and instrumental music might find this a very interesting release and worth checking out.
Released on Greydisc Records."

-- Sea of Tranquility (US)
   July 2016

Eleven Rooms arrived in my box yesterday, and yes, I am speechless… but for all the good and right reasons. There are so many things to enjoy that I would need a thesaurus to put all my thoughts into words. You and Mark sound really great; and as always, the recording quality is superb."

-- Mike Metheny (US)

"Eleven Rooms is filled with a wide range of sonic surprises! Great work, I think it's the best collaboration yet with Mark Wingfield..."
Releasing a CD every year for the past five years, Mark Wingfield and Kevin Kastning return to the recording world with the 2015 CD release of Eleven Rooms. Improving with every album release, the duo hit yet another new high with Eleven Rooms. There’s always some concept or approach taken with every one of their album releases, and on the eleven track Eleven Rooms, the concept focuses upon the works of the obscure Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). From the liner notes of Eleven Rooms, the duo add, “For most of the pieces on this recording, we placed prints of Vermeer’s paintings in front of us while we recorded.” While all of the albums by Wingfield and Kastning have certain similar sonic elements of surprise, perhaps the most illuminating aspect on Eleven Rooms is the excellent sound quality they achieve in Kastning’s Studio Traumwald in the Boston area, while Wingfield deftly handles the mixing and mastering in The Gravity Factory in the U.K. Renowned for his avant garde excursions that feature custom guitars, with astronomical amounts of strings, Kastning’s guitar setup is relatively modest here with the CD featuring his 36 string Double Contraguitar, the 30 string Contra-Alto guitar, 6 string classical guitar and mandolin. The mandolin sound, unheard on earlier albums, adds in yet another new sonic texture and in and of itself it adds in a kind of impressionistic Americana sound in places. On the fast track towards becoming a world renowned jazz-rock fusion electric guitarist Wingfield, fresh from his 2014 album Proof Of Light, sounds quite energized throughout Eleven Rooms, never dominating the soundstage or over saturating the audio spectrum—instead adding sonic depth, with ample reverb that brings towering drama to Kastning’s geometric, multi-string mosaics. Even with a string of fine albums already released by this guitar team, it’s worth restating that Eleven Rooms is the best sounding and most revealing album yet from Kevin Kastning and Mark Wingfield."

-- Music Web Express 3000 Magazine (US)
February 2016



"Kastning is the kind of musician that almost makes you want to cheat by going into your archives, pulling up an old review, blowing the dust off it and rerunning it. A wild innovator that experiments in three dimensions and never rolls off the rails, we find him here in his fifth set in this duo mode. Finding that spot that made so many ECM albums classic and adding his own special sauce to boot, this guitar duo doesn't rest on past laurels and continues to drill their chops deeper. A mighty guitar statement that transcends genres and pigeon holes, this is the place your ears want to wind up when they crave living, breathing art that isn't preserved in amber. How much better can it get?"

-- Midwest Record magazine (US)
   December 2015

Kevin Kastning, Mark Wingfield: Eleven Rooms

"The days when you could say to yourself, "oh, I think I know what this sounds like" may still be with us, but it seems to me less and less so. I get a fair amount of music that I cannot say I have any intuitions about, and then others where I know the artists well enough to have a good idea. The latest album by Kevin Kastning and Mark Wingfield, Eleven Rooms (Greydisc 3528) was one of those "huh?" albums. But then when I put it on something wonderful, I mean pretty darned wonderful came out of the speakers.
It is an introspected, open-formed series of duets with Kevin Kastning on 36-string double Contraguitar(!), 30-string contra-alto guitar, classical guitar and mandolin plus Mark Wingfield on electric guitar.

The combination is pretty unearthly. The 30- and 36-string guitars sound incredible, almost harp-like and Mark's electric guitar has a wonderful electric tone and noting way about it that makes him a standout player.

This is their fifth album, and it is a winner. The multi-string guitars (which Kastning invented) lay a luminous, musically distinctive backdrop (as does the classical guitar and mandolin) overtop which Wingfield crafts some wonderful ambient electric guitar lines, which are in the tradition of the ambient guitarists we know and love, yet there is a special tone he gets that distinguishes him and what he plays is marvelously musical and original.

The two together make a magic blend that takes you elsewhere in a sort of post-ECM neo-psychedelic space, but not in a predictable way. Each has a musical vision that when combined make for music you've never heard quite like this before.

It is a beautiful experience and a set of musical inventions that intrigue and keep your attention fixed at the foreground. It may be "mellow" at times, but never without real musical content. Very recommended!"

-- Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog (US)
January 2016

"Last week, I received "Eleven Rooms" a beautiful collaboration between Kevin Kastning and Mark Wingfield.
Kevin Kastning, as you might know, explores the sounds of the acoustic guitars, performing on a 36-string double contraguitar, a 30-string contra-alto guitar, a 6-string classical guitar and a mandolin.
Mark Wingfield is an electric guitar player. Last year, Mark released the impressive "Proof Of Light" on the MoonJune Record label.

On "Eleven Rooms", the duo pays tribute to Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. The liner notes explain that it's the combination of light and shadow, the stillness and the mystery of the paintings that inspired the music.
11 tracks.
11 mysterious soundscapes,
A beautiful combination of electric and acoustic sounds.

Out on the Greydisc label.
www.kevinkastning.com - www.markwingfield.com
Recommended listening."

-- United Mutations (The Netherlands)
   February 2016


Kevin Kastning & Mark Wingfield: Eleven Rooms 
Greydisc Records

Mere months after the release of his first solo album Otherworld, Kevin Kastning reunites with collaborators of long standing on two new collections. They're both high-quality affairs that enhance the considerable discography the acoustic guitarist has amassed since he began releasing music in 1988.

The set with electric guitarist Mark Wingfield (the duo's fifth release on Greydisc) is especially interesting for the approach adopted, with the two drawing for inspiration from the paintings of Johannes Vermeer for most of the album's eleven pieces. Kastning and Wingfield positioned prints of the Dutch artist's paintings in front of them as they recorded, the idea being to transmute his renowned handling of light and colour into musical form. Though some listeners might have preferred otherwise, I'm pleased that the titles of the paintings used for the tracks aren't identified; had they been so, the temptation to look for ties between a particular image's content and the related musical work would have been perhaps too strong to resist. As it is, the connection is present but more as an allusion, and consequently one's focus isn't hijacked by the album concept. Consistent with that notion, the cover shows but a tiny detail from the artist's Girl Interrupted at Her Music, leaving the listener to imagine the original in its entirety.

All of the material was recorded live sans overdubs in July 2014, with Wingfield playing electric and Kastning 36-string Double Contraguitar, 30-string Contra-Soprano guitar, classical guitar, and mandolin. The combination makes for an effective contrast, the electric acting as the common thread and the acoustic instruments providing changing colour from one track to the next. An explorative sensibility is in place from the outset, with the two weaving intricate lines in amongst one another and responding in the moment to the other. Both players possess distinctive sounds: notes regularly bend and liquefy in Wingfield's hands, the outcome at times similar to that of a guitar synthesizer; Kastning, by comparison, complements the electric with strummed, picked, and plucked webs of crystalline clarity.

Moods vary from the mysterious to the contemplative, and track times vary also, from as little as two all the way up to fifteen minutes. Interestingly, the most striking settings turn out to be the quieter ones, be it “The Slumber” (one of two tracks featuring mandolin) or “A Balance in Light I,” a delicately rendered exercise in meditative melancholia featuring Kastning on six-string classical guitar. Describing the musicians' approach as painterly is too easy yet not off-the-mark. Just as it is in a visual work, texture, colour, and value are central to the players' shared undertaking, and the seventy-minute recording is a document of two seasoned and gifted instrumentalists enjoying the company of one another.

-- Textura Magazine (Canada)
 March 2016