Reviews and Quotes for Resonance

Gondola Magazine, Hungary

The Great Masters Of Resonance

Sandor Szabo/ Kevin Kastning: Resonance

"Sandor Szabo is a determining figure of the Hungarian acoustic guitar life since decades. In 1986 their first record had been released (Ritual Of A Spiritual Communion) together with Balazs Major percussionist. With this album he entered the international scene of the acoustic guitar.

In the last decades Sandor played and collaborated together with countless musicians. A few weeks ago he played a tour with Dominic Miller ( the guitar player of the Sting Band) and Kevin Kastning composer/guitar player from the States. Sandor and Kevin played some duo pieces from their first album called Resonance I am reviewing now.

I think they could not have found better title of such an album as Resonance. Most of the people has attraction to any kind of resonances because they instinctively know that the resonance of the music is an elementary phenomenal of the universe. They noticed that certain kind and quality of resonances can change their mental as well as the spiritual state.

When we start to listen Sandor Szabo/Kevin Kastning: Resonance album we enter the world of resonances where the sounds can almost be touched, where the resonances simultaneously contact our physical and mental entity but which is even more important they contact the deepest layer of our soul in a timeless dimension.

That is why the Resonance can be classified as „multi-layer” album. There is a surface layer which for certain listeners can be entertaining but never in a popular way, and a much deeper and stronger spiritual layer. Due to this latter the music unawares burgle to our consciousness like the smell of our favorite drink or meal. But while the smell is physical the music creates a spiritual thirstiness in the perception.

There are 13 pieces on the album, each of them are common compositions. It is enough to have a look at the titles of the pieces ( for example Another Face of the Beauty, The Long Tale of the Ocean, the Two Pilgrims; One Path, etc.) our spiritual fantasy starts immediately. The musicians thought it is worth to walk around some themes more times, so The Totem has two, the Tanz Grotesque has three versions.

This album offers something very special; not only musically but also in sound quality which is far beyond and above the commerce so it is worth to listen it carefully several times."

Features: Szabó Sándor / 6 és 12 string baritone guitars, Kevin Kastning / 6 és 12 string extended baritone guitars 

- Czékus Mihály


Resonance places in The Perfect Sound Forever 2007 Writers' Poll Top 10 Albums for 2007
"Abstract guitar duets a la Towner & Abercrombie; quietly beautiful and rarely done with this much perspicacity."


Sándor Szabó and Kevin Kastning - Resonance
Greydisc Records

"The abstract expressionist painting on the cover of "Resonance" is fitting. This collection of haunting baritone guitar duets is a thrilling reminder that music is art as well as entertainment. Kastning, a Massachusetts native, is a pioneer in modern acoustic guitar composition, a world seldom visited by mainstream listeners.

In his latest offering Kastning teams up with Hungarian virtuoso Sándor Szabó to produce thirteen puzzling pieces that may be best described as acoustic soundscapes. The album is unmelodic and occasionally atonal (there isn't a single track you can hum), so you won't want it for your daily commute. But the staccato back-and-forth of "Resonance" can be disturbingly peaceful and inspiring for those with enough time to develop an intimate relationship with it. Listen to this disc alone while you're writing, painting, cooking, or whatever it is you consider your art, and see where it takes you."

Buy it at CD Baby.

--Justin S.

- Yankee Magazine (USA)


Sándor Szabó & Kevin Kastning, "Resonance," 2007 Sándor Szabó's and Kevin Kastning's first collaboration, "Resonance," is a remarkably accessible collection of modern experimental guitar duets. The release is also the first-ever recording featuring the extended 12 string baritone guitar in a duet setting. Kastning has recently released several critically acclaimed albums for Greydisc, while Szabó is a Hungarian virtuoso with over twenty solo albums to his credit on European labels. On this recording the two kindred spirits adventurously explore a variety of musical pallets from chamber to symphonic and from modern to traditional folk. Together they construct beautifully written and performed compositions which feature sensitive dialoguing and improvisation. All of these sonic explorations are captured on 24-bit digital technology resulting in a recording that is as rich and lush as the spacious musical sketches the musicians create. This album is highly recommended for all listeners wanting to hear music that challenges the boundaries of acoustic guitar in a provocative but thoroughly engaging manner. © James Scott

- Minor 7th Magazine (USA)



  SZABÓ/KASTNING: Resonance. Sándor Szabó, Kevin Kastning, baritone guitars. Greydisc 3503. 56 minutes.

"On the basis of this disc, I feel confident saying that Sándor Szabó and Kevin Kastning are both remarkable guitar players and remarkable musicians. Their disc of baritone guitar duos feels like a summit meeting of players in complete sympathy with each other, operating on the same wavelength. (For those wondering about the baritone guitar, it has an intimate, smoky sound, and can be heard doubling the voice on “Into the Fire”, from Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising.)

The music on the disc is a collection of pieces that Szabó and Kastning composed together. There isn’t enough documentation with the disc to tell how written out the pieces are or how much of the composition took place in studio. In either case, they are meticulously planned and executed pieces, mostly tonal and contrapuntal, with some excursions to the edge of pantonality. The pieces are well-constructed, with a casual, lived-in feeling.

The recording is excellent. The sound of the guitars is clean and warm, with clear attacks and no distortion." 

- Sequenza21 magazine, (USA)



Sandor Szabo & Kevin Kastning “Resonance”  2007 Greydisc Records

"Kevin Kastning & Sandor Szabo are both acoustic guitar players who excel in creating experimental guitar music which consists of creating musical sound escapades with deep layers. As well Kevin Kastning as Sandor Szabo received critical acclaim in the press and by the audience for their earlier released CD's. The compositions on “Resonance” consists of duets for 12 string extended baritone guitars. Both players interact extremely well on all the mostly improvised pennings. There is a constant flow of emotions going on of the unconscious mind, painted in a creative and experimental setup. The opening track of “Resonance,” “Another Face of the Beauty” excels in great dynamics and at times it has a feeling of a classical and complicated composed piece of art. On “Song of The Wind” deep basses and high tones weave together in a universal feeling. “Intense Chemistry” has a lot of structure and has a evocative setup with intense chemistry between the two guitarists. “Long Tale of the Ocean” is a constant communication between the soul and the ocean, both are merged together. On “A Solitary Cypress” there is a process going on of opposite directions. “First Confluence” is a sound sculpture of the progression of two souls connecting. The music of Sandor Szabo & Kevin Kastning is very demanding for a listener, one has to be open for new experiences on processes going on in the human soul and Mother Nature's elements who try to connect with each other. Enjoy the journey!" 

 - Henk te Veldhuis, Bridge Guitar Reviews, (The Netherlands) © 2007



Sandor Szabo / Kevin Kastning

Greydisc GDR 3503

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

"This disc will most definitely not be for everyone, but those for whom it has been specifically crafted will be delighted, a set of spacious, abstract, and airy penseés on the intelligently pastelline—albeit darkly hued—virtues of two acoustic guitars joined in structured improv dependent only upon the moody cast of the entire selection's grey shadowy flavors. Many years ago, two giants, John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, came together to create ECM's killer Sargasso Sea, and it set the standard, a highwater mark rarely attempted let alone pulled off. A lustrum beyond, they issued the return meeting, Five Years Later, to general ecstasy. Resonance is like the third meeting, this time with Towner & Abercrombie being joined by Bill Connors in his ECM heyday. That is to say: Szabo and Kastning are a good deal darker than Ralph and John had been, following Connors' Mist and Melting peregrinations.

Now, it should be known that Abercrombie & Towner cannot be surpassed, that's just the set rule, but this duo has made the finest task of it to date. Many hoped Larry Coryell might have braved the venture in his many collabs with Steve Khan, Philip Catherine, and such—somewhat as he had in earlier ensemble releases, The Restful Mind and Spaces, almost catching the quintessence but not quite —but, as thrilling as those LPs were, they weren't of the order of Sargasso Sea. Resonance, however, comes damnably, impressively close. Very satisfying, it persistently etches itself in mercurialities, evanescence, and threnody, boasting a use of baritone guitars exclusively, hand-crafted instruments yielding rich tones and meaningful shades.

It's ironic that one of the players shares a surname with a revered elder now passed on, Gabor Szabo, because the thoughtfulness and choices demonstrated by Sandor are akin to Gabor's consummate playmanship. I was fortunate to catch Gabor at Redondo Beach's long-famed Lighthouse not long before he died, apparently of complications arising from heroin addiction, and, even in the throes of his struggle with the drug, he could peel off some of the most fascinating lines amidst what had then become a descending lite jazz denouement in his career.

Fortunately for guitar romantics, Sandor possesses none of these problems and embraces what Gabor had displayed in such classics as Mizrab while pushing well beyond. This CD is an hour-long spree of slowly shifting Dantean environments and atonal wanderings in fields close by yet far from the safe pastures of urbanity. Wild is the heather here, foggy the banks, and mysteriously does the day pass in reveries and echoing tastes. Like many such releases, it works beautifully as background chiaroscuro or closely followed fare. Either mode repays the attentions given, but it is not—and I can't stress this firmly enough—of an ilk with the New Age duets the disc might initially be mistaken for (the cover is very pleasant two-toned abstract canvas). Such things are 99% milk-blooded tomfoolery, while Resonance breathes, whispers, cajoles, sulks, and hypnotizes in an extremely literate fashion. Therefore, do not send to know for whom the muttering minor chords ring, they beckon thee."

Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange (USA)
© 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.


"It's been a really satisfying challenge working with Kevin on his special instrumental needs. He seems to be able to imagine a voice for a composition and then tries as articulately as possible to describe these needs and his ideas of an instrument that might be able to provide those voices. For us it is uncharted territory so it is a big jump in faith you might say on both our parts, yet in every case we have managed to provide Kevin with an instrument that not only satisfies his need but in fact usually exceeds his expectations. This has been a tremendously gratifying experience working with him on these and current projects and we look forward to continuing our work with Kevin...

It will be fun for you to hear such unusual instruments. We are proud to be represented in this genre by such a prolific and interesting artist!"

Daniel Roberts,
Santa Cruz Guitar Co. (USA)



"Having been an avid listener of Kevin's work for many years, I was just stunned at the huge leap his music has taken with this collaboration with Sandor Szabo. I was honored with the privilege of designing the graphics for the album, and so I am quite close to it and possibly slightly biased, but still when I first heard the pieces here I was very excited at having my work associated with something so special.

Kevin's abstract style combined with Sandor's almost at times almost frantic one seems to have conjured something extraordinary, and altogether different for the both of them {although I have only heard one of Sandor's albums}. Kevin's extended baritone in particular, just resounds orchestrally, its deep tones complimented perfectly by Sandor's higher-pitched baritone, especially in Intense Chemistry, which at times even gets a little funky. While the instruments themselves sound amazing, I believe it's Kevin and Sandor's combined styles of playing them, their beautiful improvised pieces that sound so pre composed, that give the guitars such a wonderful voice. The recorded sound quality is so crisp and clear that it seems like I have these two playing right here in my living room. The final track, Fantasy for door harp, is a delightful little sign-off to the album.

It is also quite exciting that this is the first ever recording of 12-string baritone duets, hardly surprising as Kevin invented this "piano like" instrument. With the subsequent invention of the extended baritone, and a new guitar design underway, I think we can expect more interesting and wonderful sounds from this duo in the future.

I truly love this album and enjoy it more each time I play it, each time hearing some new little nuance I had missed previously. I am indeed very proud to be a part of it."

- Lea Hawkins, artist and graphic designer (Australia)


"Dear Kevin,
Your new album arrived, and I hastened to listen to it. A wonderful new world for me, and I want to thank you for this seductive exploration in the world of sound. Is it too predictable that two of my favorites were "The Totem" (Nos. 1 & 2), and "Intense Chemistry?" "

- Dr. Glenn Watkins, author and musicologist; University of Michigan  (USA)


"After listening repeatedly to "Resonance," I can hardly wait to hear the second Szabo/Kastning effort, especially since, amazingly enough, it is already "in the can," so to speak. The first thing coming to my mind is how the two players hit it off; Kevin's understated and sober playing blends wonderfully with Sandor's more flamboyant and virtuosic style, although sometimes it is difficult to know who plays what when the music becomes more sparse. The guitar tones are gorgeous; although in baritone-land, the sound is never muddy nor lacks definition. And definition and purity is all about how this CD has been recorded. I was always impressed by the tone of Kevin's recordings; it is rare to hear such unadulterated, rich and pure guitar sounds. The music spans a diverse range of influences, much more than what I'm accustomed to hear with the Kastning/Siegfried duet, becoming sometimes a tad jazzy, poppy (as in "accessible melody"), but always rich in polytonality, coherent in style and I want to stress, easy to listen to. No need to hold a PhD. in musicology to enjoy Resonance. I am not sure how much is improvised vs. composed and written music for each track, but it all sounds as if it's coming from the same well; another testament to the musical brotherhood quickly forged between these two players."

- Laurent Brondel, producer and/or mixer: Cuong Vu, Myra Melford, Bill Frisell  (USA)


"Kevin...You are a creator of "Visions of Loveliness." Your music truly does stir one from within. Not a lot of that around much anymore. Seems to have departed with the Masters; particularly Beethoven and Handel. Intellectual music; totally unique expression.  I'll bet "they" have a difficult time fitting You into one of their convenient little categories!"  - Lora Buchanan, (USA)


"Hey Kevin! I listened to the clips from your new CD. I feel a real connection to "A Solitary Cypress." Love it!"

- Jacki Geary, artist  (USA)