GROTON-- A technical writer by day, music is both a second job and fundamental passion for Kevin Kastning.
Broadly speaking, Kastning's genre is modern acoustic guitar composition, a pursuit he's translated into roughly a dozen studio albums and a recording contract. However, he cautioned that his art includes tuning guitar-family instruments to his own unique keys, along with some instruments he invented to help fulfill his compositions. In short, he said it's a unique type of music, which makes it hard to categorize.
"In my mind, it could be called contemporary classical chamber music, but I've been told that the Canadian Broadcast Company has been playing it on their jazz and new-age programs," he said. "It seems like everyone I talk to has a different take on what it is."
Whatever it is, Kastning said the music -- which is alternatively described as "pensive" and "hypnotic" on its Amazon.com review -- has picked up a "pretty good" following in Europe, including a Hungarian fan named Sandor Szabo who since has become his favorite recording partner.
It began over the Internet, when Szabo contacted Kastning to talk music. Soon they were sharing work back and forth, and Kastning said the styles were such a good fit that they met to record an album, which was released in 2007.
The duo's third disk, Parabola, was released earlier this year, and Kastning said they recorded another album while touring Hungary in September.
Explaining how it's possible to thrive with an overseas recording partner that he sees maybe three weeks out of the year, Kastning said the chemistry is such that they usually record a disk in one day. He added that's not a gimmick, but instead a mark of how well their styles mesh.
"We don't set out and say we're going to record an album in a day, but at the end we've got eight or 10 new compositions and they're done," he said.
Kastning also described the latest recording session as memorable, if short. He said the tracks were laid at an old church with great acoustics in a tiny Hungarian village named Nograd. It had maybe a dozen homes and was overlooked by picturesque castle from the 9th century, which was also a good spot for a lunch break, he said.
When not recording, Kastning said they toured much of Hungary with longtime Sting guitarist Dominic Miller, adding they met some very dedicated fans, like one Hungarian who drove 250 kilometers to see them in person.
In the big picture, they have a recording contract through a small Boston-based label known as Grey Disk Records, and while they have yet to cut a gold album (500,000 record sales), Kastning said he's always surprised at how well they do.
As the son of musician, Kastning said he quickly developed a strong interest in music, picking up his first guitar at age 11. Having been weaned on jazz and classical, Kastning said compositions would often spring fully formed into his head, though he quickly figured out they were outside the norms of those genres. Even so, he continued to develop them.
That process of bringing compositions to life has been very rewarding, explained Kastning, who said he knows firsthand that music can change people's lives -- and that he's honored that some people have said the same about his work.
"I don't think success is measured by how much money you make," he said.
"I get e-mails from around the world from people who like my music, and I'm very thankful for that," he added at another point.
Information about Kastning is available at www.kevinkastning.com.