Reviews and Quotes for The Book of Crossings


The Book of Crossings

Kevin Kastning / Sándor Szabó

Greydisc Records - GDR3512

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

"I've been quite entranced with the past work of this duo and am always looking forward to more, that's a given. The Book of Crossings, however, is fleshing out new wrinkles in the work of Kevin Kastning and Sándor Szabó, guitarists decidedly forever in rare form. The initial cut here, Vorspiel even embeds a sense of playfulness not all that apparent in the back catalogue, a vivacity that lifts the prevalently somber, albeit eternally exploratory, refrains up into a new level. Then Narthex jangles the ears with abstract wafts shining in profoundly lustrous cross beams of light and shadow, and we recall what it was that hypnotized our oh-so-willing ears in the first place.

To Carthage Then I Came might be best indication of the more clearly narrative structure of a lot of Crossings, possessing a very distinct foreground in the opening quotation but one that submerges, re-emerges, and goes through many shifts of emphasis. Too, with 21 chapters to this 72-minute 'book', many many transitions occur, and Intarsia I is a segue to the darker and more exotic Second Transversal, inhabited by staccato plectrum and definedly angular arabesques, everything thence to the initially pacific Verax, which slowly twists within itself.

For this release, a total of 8 different guitars was employed as well as piano (highly unusual for Kevin), e-bow (just as singular), and Szabó's use of a guzheng (Chinese zither). Strikingly, while Kastning employs the e-bow in Carthage, Szabó wields his 16-string as though it were a combination of guzheng and koto (you'll detect the true guzheng's distinctive tones elsewhere). The perennial Towner/Abercrombie milieu is omnipresent in these cats, thank God, but so is Kastning's love of classical structures ancient and modern, so while the duo's work remains indefinable, it nonetheless possesses an abundance of reference points. You just have to take them all from Mars, Jupiter, or Piranesi. If that's disturbing, then just back slowly away from your computer and turn on reruns of Hawaii Five-O instead, but if it's the sort of surreal immersion you know you desperately need lest you go mad on this monkeyhouse Earth………then why the hell are you wasting time reading my review???"

- FAME Magazine September 2012 (USA)




The Book of Crossings
Kevin Kastning & Sandor Szabo

"This year 2012 has been especially fruitful for the musician and composer Kevin Kastning. Now comes the recent launch of his new work entitled "The Book of Crossings" with the great Sándor Szabó. Issued by the GREYDISC RECORDS label, the album "The Book of Crossings" contains twenty-one compositions written by Kevin Kastning (14-strings Contraguitar, Alto 12-string guitar, bass-baritone 12-string, baritone classical guitar, 12-string Octave guitar, Ebow, and piano) and Sándor Szabó (classical guitar, 16-string guitar, guitar 10-string viola caipira and guzheng). Hearing each of these pieces of music is a unique experience in this extraordinarily beautiful instrumental virtuoso display. Recorded on March 23, 2012 in Madách Müvelodési Központ (Vac, Hungary), this album has been mixed and mastered by Sándor Szabó at Tandem Records Experimental Studio (Hungary), showing the use of 24-bit mastering, this outstanding quality, allowing sound to give a harmonic richness that will leave you very surprised.

Furthermore, the admirable work of album art is the photographic work of artist Chris Friel. The art is a success, offering an elegant and distinguished visual appearance of the musical works. Some nebulae and chromatic textures in faded ocher are symbolically presented to reflect this perfect trip to the mental abyss where the entire record is stored in our memory. A source of musical creativity inspired by the elusive haze of born-again experience, this.

We started hearing this wonderful album entering into the musicianship of Kevin Kastning and Sándor Szabó in "Vorspiel," instrumental virtuosity to overwhelm readers of Lux Athena Webzine and music lovers of impeccable musical performances. A sensory emotion is continued in the beautiful composition "Narthex," with the theme "First Transversal" the first walk through this delightful melody divided into three sections of exquisite music throughout the album. With "Arc I", the magic and energy of impregnation materially stimulates our living spirit, making the theme "To Carthage Then I Came" in one of the most captivating musical experiences on this album. "To Carthage Then I Came," pure genius! An atmosphere that will surround, illuminated by the sacredness that permeates the composition "Intarsia I," while the melodic take on a special resonance in the "Second Transversal.” "Verax," the growing influence of the authentic and what is inextricably tied to the first glimpse of the primitive. In "Aliorsum I," this strong show of art and alert performing talent leads directly to the essentials while enjoying the theme "Verus." Maintaining the composition "Modus Novus I," that mysterious halo of sound that both attracts and seduces us into the works written by these two great composers. For this reason, the magnetic spell of philosophical testimony will be presented with the theme "Intarsia II," leaving the air around us in an almost sacred realm. "Aliorsum II" as a prelude to the existentially perfect inherited and can breathe in the wonderful pristine purity of theme in "Intarsia III." Here, the incomparable musical beauty of "Third Transversal" psychologically absorbs us by stimulating our mental focus to be more receptive to sonic detail that gives life to the "Arc II." "Arc II", an extraordinary musical composition! With this radiant soul music still flying over our being, the magic of the extraordinary composition "Intarsia IV" will take hold of us, being "Modus Novus II" the clever melodic turn arranged to re-stimulate our minds to more expansive and complex dimensions, making the issue "Veritas" in another of the most enjoyable performances of this album. Finally, after the richness of sound that defines the perfilamientos and definitions of "Fifth Pleochroism" and that floods our being with the ambrosia of concentrated vital essence in "Nachspiel," the dark night will be responsible for closing this sublime musical work created by Sándor Szabó and Kevin Kastning. "The Book of Crossings", music, culture, and intellectuality admirably integrated with these dazzling technical interpretative performances. Enjoy it!"

- Lux Atenea Magazine (SPAIN)
August 2012



"I think "The Book of Crossings" is your best yet with Sandor. The music really breathes, and is -to my ears- slightly infused with central European and eastern tonalities. Great work."

- Laurent Brondel (USA/FRANCE)



"The Book of Crossings" sounds again superb ! Great interplay and intriguing sounds, rhythms and melodies."

- Gilbert Isbin (BELGIUM)



"The Book of Crossings: Music at its best!"

Ralf Gauck (GERMANY)


"Kevin Kastning's latest CD releases - An Illustrated Silence with Mark Wingfield and The Book Of Crossings with Sandor Szabo are each sonic masterpieces."

- Music Web Express 3000 magazine  (USA)


"Dear Kevin,

The Book of Crossings with Sándor is the deepest one probably in my opinion. It is like talking on a higher level than any poem could ever show up... I'm really proud about helping you with the recordings again! It was a very nice day and a good memory also to me.

I wish you all the best, good music and inspiration,"

- Roland Heidrich (HUNGARY) (recording engineer for The Book of Crossings)

Kevin Kastning/ Sándor Szabó: The Book Of Crossings

"Does not matter from where we approach the topic, the final result will be the same: that what Kevin Kastning and Sándor Szabó create in the acoustic guitar scene that is the peak of the modern contemporary acoustic guitar music. Listening to their latest album, one has the feeling that there is no way to any higher levels. Then a new album arrives and we have to modify our previous statement and we can step up to an even higher level and we can walk into the eternity. The American and Hungarian guitar players and composers found each other more than half a decade ago, and their first common work was the Resonance in 2007. Then this album was annually followed by others. The we came to August of this year and we can hold the latest album the The Book Of Crossings in our hands. This is the fifth album from the Kevin/Szabó guitar duo. The album as usual has been released on the Greydisc Records in the USA.

People who never heard them live in concert or from recordings can imagine two guitar players who go on the stage or into the studio with a single guitar. They are mistaken because they use plenty of guitars and other instruments on concerts and in studio, too in order to get the result they want. (They toured twice in Hungary in larger towns and the audience could see their fantastic instrument arsenal.) It is worth mentioning the instruments they used in The Book Of Crossings. Sándor Szabó used his old 16-string nylon string guitar with a special tuning, a 10-string Brazilian instrument called viola caipira guitar, a Ziata classical guitar, a 21-string Chinese zither called the guzheng. Kevin Kastning used his 14-string Contraguitar, a 12-string bass-baritone guitar, a classical baritone guitar, 12-string octave guitar, e-bow, and a grand piano. As we listen, their themes are played with the precision of a brain-surgeon.

We can find certain themes on the album interpreting them from different aspects like Arcs I and II, Intarsia, Aliorsum and Modus Novus. The way the listener comes to its conclusion is very exciting as soon it goes ahead in the pieces and merges into the depth of the music. The album contains 21 tracks but sometimes we can have the feeling this is a long one-piece album with nice inner structures."

HiFi Portal Magazine (HUNGARY)



The Book of Crossings
Kevin Kastning & Sándor Szabó

“The instrumental array here comprises conventional as well as unorthodox, even peculiar acoustic guitars including classical (nylon string), baritone classical, 12-string bass-baritone, 12-string alto, 12-string octave, and 16-string guitars, 10-string viola capira, and 14-string Contraguitar, plus Ebow, Guzheng, and piano. With them, Kevin Kastning and Sandor Szabo play in the classical tradition: fingerstyle, performing their own, modernist compositions.

The extended range of some of these instruments adds a nice low end missing in so much classical guitar music. The musical style includes spikey dissonances, but is rooted in tonality, albeit tenuously at times. A clear point of reference is Ralph Towner, especially with the combination of classical and 12-string and other double-course (i.e., 14- and 16-string) guitars. Most of these works fall in the range of much 20th century classical guitar music, often filtered through ECM-style production. The music tends to be relatively safe: modern, with doses of dissonance, without being off-putting. So, in very loose terms, more Stravinsky than Stockhausen. At once challenging and pleasant.”

- Dean Suzuki

Progression Magazine (USA)  Summer 2012 issue