Titles are arranged alphabetically with recent additions highlighted in yellow.
With classical and jazz chops galore, After Crying have shown they can match ELP and King Crimson when they want to. After appearing at two Baja Prog festivals and NEARfest 2001, a lot of fans on this side of the globe realize that this is a world class progressive ensemble, and probably the best band Hungary has produced.
Their first studio album since 2003, Creatura (2011, 63-minutes, super jewel box) shows significant evolution for After Crying. The first part of the album seems to continue in the direction established by Show, but it doesn’t stay on that trajectory, mixing all sorts of styles in schizoid arrangements. King Crimson remains a slight influence; the rest is After Crying being After Crying. Though predominantly instrumental, the vocals and spoken word are mostly in Hungarian, a little English. It may be that an understanding of the story running through this concept album is required to make sense of the music. If the listener can live with a degree of confusion and the lack of stylistic homogeneity, the brilliance of After Crying shines through. These guys excel at everything from chamber music to orchestral classical to jazz, world, and very contemporary forms, not to mention conventional prog rock, so it’s natural for them to put it all on one album. Whether listeners can keep up with this forward-looking band is another matter, but then they are giving you a lot of time between albums! Read the ProgVisions review.
Show is not a live album but rather After Crying’s 2003 studio album, their first in six years. It is by far their most forward-looking album, rendering comparisons to earlier prog bands meaningless, even if they still slip in a King Crimson quote. They have a new singer (lyrics in English), though the music remains heavily instrumental. But mainly, After Crying have incorporated modern music technology and styles to an extent that hasn’t been done before by a band with prog rock chops like this. It’ll take a while to catch your breath after this 72-minute album, and longer than that to digest it all. Read the DPRP review.
Bootleg Symphony is a 2001 live album recorded at the Academy Of Music in Budapest with a 40-piece symphony orchestra. Why this is called bootleg is unknown as it is quite legit. This may be the best fusion of rock band and symphony orchestra ever!
Live: Struggle for Life is a good place to start for the uninitiated. This 2CD set contains 1999 live recordings plus a 1997 recording of Starless with John Wetton, plus CD-ROM material including mp3s of additional songs.
After Crying 6 (1997) was their breakthrough album and remains one of their best studio albums. The 11-minute track Conclusion (A Tribute to Keith Emerson) could be called A Tribute to Pirates.
De Profundis (1994, 74-minutes) is After Crying’s fourth album. It is a realization of the symphonic sound they were formulating on the second half of Föld és ég. The music is typical After Crying, a mix of the styles from their previous albums: grand, sweeping cinematic symphonic; medieval vocal work; chamber music; acoustic instrumental solos and duos; a bit of Emersonian piano; and some full-blown symphonic prog rock. The vocals are excellent. Their chamber-rock ensemble style might be likened to the Swedish band Isildurs Bane, but with more emphasis on acoustic instruments and a more solemn mood. The music tends toward brooding and somber, with a near-religious feel, yet there is enough lighthearted music and upbeat moments to offset that.
Föld és ég (1994), their third, marks the beginning of After Crying the rock band, as it is their first album with a drummer. It is their most ELP-influenced and keyboard-heavy album, but would be the last for keyboardist Csaba Vedres.
Overground Music (1990, 74-minutes) is After Crying’s CD debut. Though this isn’t the album to start with, for those who’ve heard later albums, it’s worthwhile to see how it all began. There is a significant classical and chamber music influence here, given the prominent role of cello and viola, as well as the absence of drums. The tonal colors are created mainly by piano, cello, viola, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, and flute. The centerpiece here is Vedres Csaba’s piano work, which is lyrical and beautiful, though a bit sparser than on later albums. The interaction of piano, cello, and brass results in a lot of wonderful counterpoint.
Opus 1 and 1989 were both originally released on cassette in 1989 and so they predate Overground Music. They were reissued on these CDs in 2009. Opus 1 contains live recordings from three different theaters or concert halls between 1988-89. 1989 is studio material composed mostly by pianist Vedres Csaba.
Android was formed back in 1980 at a Hungarian university, but their first CD East of Eden was not released until 2009, shortly after the band reunited. That music actually dated to 1995. According to the band: “The music of Android is rather unique. It combines classic progressive rock with new age, jazz, and folkloric song motifs. It is predominantly for those who have grown up on the music of SBB, Fermata, Yes, Pink Floyd, ELP, Mike Oldfield, Tomita, and Kitaro and who like complex rock music.” While East of Eden was instrumental, Midnight Ball (2011) has vocals and spoken word from several singers. Watch the official video. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Progwereld.
The 1999 self-titled debut CD from Carpathia Project contains excellent rock-oriented fusion in the vein of the Dixie Dregs, Jean-Luc Ponty, Jan Akkerman, and Mathematicians, featuring violin and flute. Or as the CD booklet says, “The style is a mixture of progressive rock, jazz, latin, and ethno, spiced with a bit of metal.” It took until 2011 for II, the second Carpathia Project CD, which is heavier but otherwise similar.
ColorStar are a psychedelic progressive band in the Korai Öröm, Ozric Tentacles, and early Porcupine Tree vein, mixing electronic trends (acid, trip-hop, jungle, rave, whatever) with progressive rock. They have a full sound with huge grooves and earthshaking bass, using hypnotic rhythms and seductive sequencer patterns overlaid with Middle Eastern-tinged melodies and some English vocals. Both Heavenicetrip! (1998) and Via la Musica (2001) include a CD-ROM track.
This is the 2013 debut CD by The Cosmic Remedy, an Internet-era transnational band headed by Transylvanian guitarist Bogáti-Bokor Ákos, known for his work in the Yes-influenced bands Yesterdays, Tabula Smaragdina, and You and I. The drummer is Finland’s Kimmo Pörsti, who also plays in Paidarion, Mist Season, Strandberg Project, and The Samurai of Prog. The male lead singer is Brazilian, the bassist is Italian. Then there are the guests, who include German Ulf Yacobs (Argos), the flute player from Yesterdays, the drummer and bassist from Tabula Smaragdina, and three female singers. One is the first lead singer of Yesterdays, one is the lead singer of German band Klima, and one is the lead singer of a Romanian Led Zeppelin tribute band. Everyone sings in excellent English; in fact the whole album sounds extremely English. The CD consists of 14 songs organized into four suites. The first suite is the really proggy one, Yes-influenced and close to the sound of Bogáti-Bokor Ákos’s other bands. The remaining three suites are more Beatles-influenced, lighter and more open, with an unmistakable late-60s vibe. Mellotron strings are used to add proggy flavoring to these lighter songs. Read the Background Magazine and The Progressive Aspect reviews.
This is a symphonic rock work featuring a large choir, orchestra, and (on one track) the vocals of Márta Sebestyén. Much of this sounds like Vangelis at his most powerful, playing with an orchestra. There is also one track of symphonic Celtic music, and some rock elements that Vangelis never used. If this was a Vangelis album, it would rank among his very best. Read the allmusic review. Watch the video for the track Life.
On Kisember (2002, 57-minutes), the D Sound style seems to be derived primarily from Pink Floyd, but with a heavier guitar sound. In certain tracks, the influence of Mike Oldfield can also be felt. The album is more than half instrumental, with Pink Floydish vocals in Hungarian. All in all, quite an intriguing and novel blend.
Balkan (2005, 61-minutes) is their second CD, and while Kisember was good, this one is great. Here the Mike Oldfield influence is stronger, but the spacey Pink Floyd style is still present, and new symphonic rock elements are introduced. It is mostly instrumental, but what vocals there are are very good, as there are four guest singers adding choir type vocals. Not only another great prog band from Hungary, but one that is unlike any of the other Hungarian bands.
During their early years, East was Hungary’s best symphonic prog band. Játékok (Games) and Hüség (Loyalty) are reissues of their first two albums, from 1981 and 1982 respectively. These are their best albums with vocals, with Hüség the better of the two. East recorded an English-language version of Játékok titled Blue Paradise. It is little known because the record company manufactured only 4,000 copies of the LP, which was not enough to supply the Hungarian market, let alone international collectors. This 2014 CD edition of Blue Paradise (digipack) is a pleasant surprise then, and it adds two 1979 singles as bonus tracks.
On their third album Rések a Falon (1983), East started to move away from symphonic prog and “modernize” their sound, but as a transitional album, it still has some good progressive rock.
East’s 1984 fourth album Az Áldozat (Szodoma), which translates to The Victim (Sodom), is entirely instrumental and a return to form, an excellent symphonic prog album, but the last good album East would make. This CD comes in a super jewel box. See also the Janos Varga Project CDs below.
This is one incredible album from 2000. Róbert Erdész is Solaris’ keyboard player, joined here by Márta Sebestyén, other Solaris members, Janos Varga, and some very talented folk musicians. On the cover, it humbly says Hungarian world music. This is huge, majestic, powerful, symphonic progressive world rock. In this emerging genre, it is significantly different from Paranoise and Azigza; we’d go so far as to say that this is the most sophisticated blending of world music and rock we’ve heard. There are elements of Solaris, especially their Nostradamus album, but the arrangements are more sophisticated, the music more modern, varied and grander in scope. One can hear the influence of Mike Oldfield, Adiemus, Afro Celt Sound System, and of course East European and other folk musics. There are lots of vocals, but they are usually wordless. It is always rhythmic and exciting. Listening to this album after hearing other world music albums is like turning off the TV and going to the cinema. Make that an IMAX movie. Here is an mp3 of the track Israel (5:12). Watch the video for Ritual Song.
The name of this Romanian band is a misnomer for two reasons. One, this is 1970s-style symphonic prog, pure and simple, so have no fear of an atonal headache. The band does date to the 1970s, so the name made more sense then. Two, there are only four band members on Atlantis (2012, digipack). They originally had a flute player as the fifth member, but as he couldn’t be located today, the flute parts on this album were played on a keyboard, though it isn’t obvious. Given that they’re now a quartet, the band sometimes use the shortened name Experimental Q. They did record material during the 70s but never released an LP. Atlantis is a new album but contains re-recorded material written during the 70s. Three of the musicians are original members, with a new young drummer. The music is almost entirely instrumental, with both keyboards and guitar sharing center stage. The keyboardist favors organ, so the organ-prog bands of the 70s come to mind, sometimes ELP, though less flashy, while instrumental Greenslade is sometimes a better reference. But Experimental Quintet have a guitarist who sometimes plays angular leads, then the music is something different. And when both flute and guitar are present, the music leans toward Solaris. The recording is faithful to 1970s sounds such that it not only sounds like a lost album from the classic era, it probably would have pushed Phoenix and Progresiv TM off the top spots in Romanian prog had it been released back then. Listen to the long track Quintet no. 2 on YouTube.
This is a very good album of electronic prog rock with strong world music elements, primarily samples of Native American singing/chanting. The group is a trio of keyboards, bass, and drums, with additional people helping with the samples. F&J go for a huge sound -- no meditative noodling here. Long tracks of symphonic electronics, pounding percussion, and exotic instrument and vocal samples. Despite a more rock-oriented approach, this will appeal to fans of Deep Forest, Enigma, and their ilk.
2007 CD of progressive-flavored guitar-based rock instrumentals from a Hungarian quartet, somewhat similar to the Janos Varga CDs. There are keyboards in a supporting role; the drums however are programmed.
Another impressive band from Hungary. Folk Iván is the name of the bandleader, but on Sea of Glass (2002), this is a quintet playing fusion-tinged, mostly-instrumental progressive rock. One song has male vocals in English, another has beautiful wordless female vocals. The rhythm section owes a debt to modern King Crimson, but the music has a very organic feel, since the lead work is done on soprano sax, violin, and acoustic guitar, with a supporting role for keyboards. The soprano sax playing is very melodic, similar to the way Happy the Man uses it, while songs with violin in the lead sometimes bear a resemblance to The Dixie Dregs. Hungarian folk melodies are sometimes subtly integrated, but that’s as much folk as you’ll find in Folk Iván.
Fugato Orchestra blend symphony orchestra and rock band, something the Hungarians do particularly well as many of the musicians are products of music conservatories, and Fugato Orchestra are no exception. The orchestral instruments are augmented by drums, bass, and keyboards, plus beautiful female vocals on some tracks. On their debut Neander Variations (2004), the classical in their classical-rock hybrid is of the romantic variety, light (as opposed to dark) in character, with an early music influence present in several of the pieces. This first CD has a CD-Extra section and it is substantial, including not only three videos but 17 more tracks in mp3 format, one of which is a great medley of Vangelis compositions.
Noé (2010, 68-minutes, super jewel box) is their second CD, and their drummer now is Zsolt Madai from After Crying. This is more sophisticated than their first and covers more ground, including more contemporary classical and jazz influence as well as loops/samples and Cirque de Soleil-style world music. It’s hard to think of a more accomplished blending of all those influences, as this is one amazing album and the best thing coming out of Hungary now. Watch the official video trailer. It would be great to see this band at a festival on this side of the Atlantic, but the large size of the ensemble makes that unlikely. At least we have these CDs.
This 2002 Hungarian album is powerful electronic rock music, firmly in the post-1980 Tangerine Dream style. Symphonic and grandiose, melodic and rhythmic, if this was a Tangerine Dream album, it would rank among their best. 59-minutes.
On their 2003 debut, this Hungarian group play instrumental progressive rock with a lineup of guitar, keys, bass and drums, plus two female vocalists on one track. This is 56-minutes of skillfully-arranged and played symphonic prog, melodic and generally upbeat, perhaps more upbeat than we normally associate with East European bands. Yet another great Hungarian prog band -- no one should be surprised by now at the quality of the bands coming from that country.
Seven Gates of Alhambra (digipack) is a posthumous album from the guitarist of Solaris, completed by the rest of the band in 1999 after his death. Overall it’s somewhat more peaceful than the Solaris albums, with more world music stylings, but similar enough to appeal to the same fans. Here is an excerpt from the track Personal Gravity. Listen to the title track on YouTube.
Kolinda are Hungary’s internationally-renown progressive folk band. They’ve been around since 1975, but more recently they must have listened to Clannad or Capercaillie because this 2000 album, their 10th, sounds a lot like the Eastern European equivalent of Clannad (during their best period). The addition of a rhythm section and vocals has changed their sound and made them much more appealing to prog fans. This has state-of-the-art production and great musicianship. Now out-of-print, last copies.
Korai Öröm are a psychedelic progressive rock band, often sounding like a combination of Ozric Tentacles and Santana’s rhythm section. In particular, their use of percussion is reminiscent of Michael Shrieve. Tribal percussion, pagan flutes, shamanistic trance rock, ambient soundscapes, burning guitar leads, Eastern European folk influences... it’s all in there. Korai Öröm have arguably been producing more interesting music than the Ozrics for some time now.
2000 Sound & Vision (digipack) contains 48 minutes of music plus three videos. The first mp3 icon above links to the band’s MySpace page. The other mp3 icon links to a Hungarian download store where you can preview the tracks (click the headphone icons).
Reflected (2003, 76-minutes) contains remixes of 18 Korai Öröm tracks by all sorts of people including three band members, with a number of different approaches. These aren’t just techno drum loops with some samples from the original; these are very creative constructions. As the band says, this is really a compilation of the new Hungarian electronic music with some Korai flavor.
This long-lived ensemble is the premiere Eastern European progressive folk-rock band, who at times sound like the Hungarian Jethro Tull. Hungarian Rhapsody (1988) should also appeal to fans of Celtic folk-rock, with East European folk melodies substituting for Celtic.
The 69-minute Istenem magyar volt, szóljon aki látta was recorded in 2001 and 2003 by the current Kormorán lineup. It contains re-recordings of songs from their entire career, selected by the Kormorán Fan Club from over 60 albums, concert recordings, film soundtracks, rock operas, and other rare songs. An excellent overview of their career. Memories / Emlékek appears to be Volume 2 in this series of re-recordings, this one recorded in 2005 and 70-minutes long.
After countless albums, Kormorán have established a rock music based on Hungarian folk music traditions and have served as Hungarian music ambassadors to the rest of the world. Still, we were unprepared for their 2005 album A Székelyek Szentje, which is the most progressive and epic album we’ve heard from the band. Whereas Kormorán are usually a vocal-heavy band, A Székelyek Szentje is instrumental aside from some wordless female vocals. The fast tempo songs often come close to Solaris, only with stronger folk melodies. Other parts of the album are majestic orchestral rock pieces that could serve as the soundtrack to a suitably epic film. Electric guitar, synths, bass and drums sit alongside violin, flute, something that sounds like a bombarde, and probably other folk instruments. Though nothing sounds too unfamiliar, there is no one else making music like this. A brilliant work.
Bálványosvár Legendája (2008) was released under both the Kormorán name and violinist Gáspár Álmos, so it could be considered a solo album with other Kormorán members assisting. Either way, it’s an exceptional album of instrumental symphonic progressive rock, with folk instruments and melodies just part of a tapestry that also includes orchestral textures and a few instances of wordless female vocals. But it is primarily progressive rock, featuring some Camel-like guitar, and the musicianship is top-notch. Shame there is little if any English-language coverage of this album, as it deserves to be much better known. Listen to the track Attacca Affrettando.
War of Angels (1997, 61-minutes) is powerful symphonic synth music, closer to prog rock than electronics. The intensity level stays fairly high, and there’s plenty of percussion. Imagine a cross between Solaris and Synergy. Read the DPRP, Aural Innovations, progVisions, and Prog Archives reviews.
Mindflowers’ 2002 debut Improgressive (67-minutes) contains extremely good instrumental progressive rock with touches of fusion, including a 22-minute epic composition. The talented quartet of guitar, keys, bass/Stick, and drums play a no-nonsense style that has been done many times before, but rarely as well as on Improgressive. Other instruments are used in spots, notably violin and percussion.
Nuances (2005, 69-minutes), their second, is no less well-executed, but Mindflowers have taken a big step in the direction of fusion. No Stick on this one, but the bassist does play a handmade 7-string bass as well as fretless.
The first Musical Witchcraft is a 1998 “solo” album from Solaris’ flutist, but it includes the rest of the Solaris members and sounds like a Solaris album, only with more flute. Musical Witchcraft is in most respects a continuation of Solaris, so fans of Solaris will relish these CDs. Here is an mp3 of the track The Dark Middle Ages (5:25).
With Musical Witchcraft II: Utopia (2002), Kollár dropped his name and began calling the band Musical Witchcraft to underscore that this is a band and not a solo project. What distinguishes Utopia from its predecessor is its acoustic tracks, which tend to alternate with the electric tracks. These acoustic tracks often have a medieval or renaissance flavor; they add much needed variety and make this album even more appealing. Here is an mp3 of the track The Tower’s Room Lost in the Fog (4:58).
The third Musical Witchcraft CD Psalms & Soundtrack (2006) is divided between new studio recordings and a concert section. The six main tracks of the concert section are new tracks, followed by two previously released concert bonus tracks. This album has a lighter feel than the others but is full of beautiful melodies. The concert tracks are in fact acoustic. The studio tracks are in the light, slightly jazzy Jethro Tull style exemplified by tracks such as Living in the Past. The concert tracks and some of the studio tracks are Musical Witchcraft’s revisions of old psalms and hymns of the reformed church. The flute is still in the lead, more prominent than ever, but joined on most tracks by violin.
Nostradamus is the continuation of the band Solaris Fusion (who released only a 9:30 CD-single), who in turn are an offshoot of Solaris, perhaps the most famous Hungarian progressive rock band. Testament (2008, 64-minutes) is the first CD under the Nostradamus name, and it is simple to describe: prog-metal Solaris. It sounds more or less exactly like Solaris with chugga-chugga metal guitar and double-pedal drumming. So if you know Solaris and have heard any one metal record from the past decade, you should be able to imagine what this sounds like. Don’t worry, there are gentler passages where it just sounds like Solaris. The album is instrumental except the last track, which is listed as a bonus and has English vocals. Listen to the tracks Shadow in the Rain and Divine Comedy on YouTube.
Random Deeds are a Hungarian progressive quartet singing in English. Their debut CD Basis of Comparison (2006, 65-minutes) is very Pink Floyd influenced (between Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall), a sure bet for Floyd fans.
One Round Zero (2009, 61-minutes) is their second. Most of the songs still show a strong Pink Floyd influence, but Random Deeds inject more of their own personality and widen their range on this CD. In addition to the songs from this album on the band’s MySpace page (mp3 icon above), there are more on YouTube: Violant Mode, Summer Shower.
Spartacus (1998), the debut by Rumblin’ Orchestra (who could use a better band name), is major-league classical progressive rock, heavily influenced by ELP and predominantly instrumental. The final track is a cover of Keith Emerson’s arrangement of America. With their second album The King’s New Garment (2000), Rumblin’ Orchestra prove they are unmatched at combining rock and orchestral music. Their only weakness here is that some of the tracks are too light and playful and end up sounding like a rock version of some Rodgers and Hammerstein production. (The Enid had a similar problem with their affection for Gershwin.) But with a playing time of 72-minutes, there’s still a whole album’s worth of the serious stuff. Fans of the Craft album should check this out - Rumblin’ Orchestra are even better, if not as consistent.
Solaris are Hungary’s well-known instrumental symphonic prog band who use flute extensively, lending comparisons to Jethro Tull and Camel’s The Snow Goose, but Solaris have their own distinctive style that incorporates Hungarian folk melodies. Their 1983 debut The Martian Chronicles is their classic, for many the best Hungarian prog album and one of the top instrumental prog albums period. Martian Chronicles II (2014) is the sequel to that album. As with Tubular Bells and Thick as a Brick, nothing boosts sales and press coverage like naming your new album the same as your classic album and appending a “II”. But we think few will be disappointed with Marsbéli Krónikák II. Watch promo video 1 and promo video 2.
Nostradamus (1999) is their most ambitious and mature work to date. To their familiar style, they’ve added various world music touches and, most significantly, a choir consisting of four guest opera singers. Here is an mp3 of the track The Lion’s Empire (6:41).
Archive 1: Back to the Roots features archival material (mostly live) covering the earliest days of the band (1980). The sound quality is decent and the style heard on The Martian Chronicles was already pretty much in place, so this material will sound familiar to fans of the band.
Subtitled 1980-2005, NOAB is the second in the Solaris Archive series and contains the tracks: NOAB (21:48), Szép, új világ (Brave New World) (3:57), Marrakech (7:44), Toatelle (5:54), Újjászületés (Reborn) (11:09), and Dr. Mabuse ezR szeme (Dr. Mabuse’s Thousand Eyes) (5:31). The most important of these is the title suite. NOAB was one of the core Solaris compositions and should have been the A-side of the first Solaris album. The band picked out short pieces from this concept track for use on The Martian Chronicles and Los Angeles 2026. There was no complete recording of this composition of adequate quality, so the version on this CD was assembled from 11 different concert recordings. It was a huge task for the Solaris members and is one reason why this album took as long as it did to get released. This album does not sound like a collection of leftovers and second-rate tracks. It’s on a par with the rest of Solaris’ work. The sound quality is excellent except for the last track, probably why that one is listed as a bonus. See the related bands Musical Witchcraft, Nostradamus, and Tompox.
The name of this band translates to Scythia, an area inhabited by tribes that the Romans used to write about in classical antiquity, while the title of their 2007 debut CD Kétezer éves ének translates to Two thousand years of. Szkítia play rock infused with Hungarian folk music. Kormorán are the best known proponents of this style, but Szkítia are actually a better rock band than Kormorán are now. Szkítia are equally adept at the rock and folk aspects, and the music on Kétezer éves ének (73-minutes) is lively, energetic, and full of progressive appeal. The biggest challenge to most prog rock fans will be the Hungarian-language vocals, which are in a style you probably aren’t used to hearing, ensemble singing with both female and male vocals. This traditional style is similar to that in Bulgaria in that the singing is often loud and forceful. We really like this stuff, and the Periferic label, responsible for most of the Hungarian progressive rock on CD, obviously does too. While at the Szkítia site looking for audio samples, it may be helpful to know that ‘Belehallgatás’ translates to ‘Listen’. Videos here.
Szkítia’s second CD Tiszta szívvel, úttalan útakon was released in a leather-bound book which has made it too expensive to stock. The title of their third CD Hajnaltűztánc (2010, super jewel box) is a compound word that translates to Dawn Fire Dance. Here is an mp3 of the track Örökké lobogjon.
Tabula Smaragdina is the band of Bogáti-Bokor Ákos, founder of the Hungarian/Romanian band Yesterdays and guitarist of the Hungarian band You and I (check below for both). Tabula Smaragdina actually dates to 2002, had a period of intense live activity, but was put on hold due to Bogáti-Bokor’s commitments to those other two bands. Here he assumes the roles of lead singer, guitarist, composer and producer, joined by a keyboardist, bassist and drummer. Both You and I and Yesterdays show a strong Yes influence while maintaining a distinct personality, and that’s also the case with Tabula Smaragdina on A Szavakon Túl (2009). The sound is mostly classic 1970s prog, with vintage keyboard sounds, some Steve Howe-like guitar and Chris Squire-like bass. A female singer with a sweet voice sings lead on one song and backing vocals elsewhere. While there are some more energetic songs than Yesterdays, there are also a lot of dreamy songs floating on Mellotron clouds. The lyrics are in Hungarian, and as is usually the case, the singers sound natural singing in their first language. There will always be listeners who prefer English-language vocals from non-English speaking countries, even though lyrics invariably lose a lot in translation and the English may be accented. Our preference is that music not all sound the same. And after all, the title of this CD translates to ‘Beyond Words’. Read the DPRP review.
Tompox is the new band of Solaris bassist Tamás Pócs. Hungarian Eclectic (2012) is their debut, The Dark Side of the Sun (2013) is their second. Tompox began playing Solaris songs exclusively, but as time went on, they wrote more and more songs, leading to a debut CD of mostly original material. (There is one King Crimson cover and a short homage to Solaris on Hungarian Eclectic.) Tamás says that the band aims to recreate the atmosphere that characterized the golden age of progressive rock, bearing in mind that we are well into the 21st century. The music is quite similar to Solaris and will appeal to the same fans, who by now are probably starving for more. And yes, there is flute.
Ferenc Torma is the guitarist of After Crying. On his 2011 first solo album, Torma plays guitar, bass, synthesizer and organ and is joined by 16 other musicians and singers, including After Crying bandmates Balázs Winkler (trumpet) and Zsolt Madai (drums). “This is a brilliant debut album by After Crying guitarist Ferenc Torma, a monumental concept album based on the life of John the Baptist. As usual with musicians belonging to the After Crying clique, we are talking about a full-fledged, almost symphonic scale work with rich orchestral arrangements, choir, and a strong classical music influence. The list of participants includes twenty musicians, who play a plethora of instruments and sing either lead or chorus lines. Some prog enthusiasts might find this music slightly ‘too serious’ for their liking, but honestly this is prog at its very best: intelligent, musical and challenging, with no clichés or boring repetitions. Admittedly a serious listening is required in order to fully appreciate this beautiful piece of music, but the intellectual and aesthetic pleasure it bestows upon the listener is truly wonderful. Connoisseurs of the After Crying legacy will have no trouble enjoying this music, but I certainly hope others will discover it as well, as it truly deserves to be discovered. Most warmly recommended!” [Adam Baruch - The Soundtrack of My Life]
Ádám Török has been on the Hungarian scene since the early 1970s, and Mini was his progressive band during the 70s. They gave many concerts but recorded few albums. This 2001 album of long instrumentals is by far the best work of the band, flute-driven progressive rock with influences of Jethro Tull, Focus, and Solaris. Like Solaris, there is some of the Hungarian folk influence here, but overall Mini are more classically-influenced and symphonic sounding than either Tull or Solaris. The production is first-rate, and so here is another world-class Hungarian progressive band that we can recommend highly.
An inventive 1997 prog rock album from an offshoot of After Crying. The music has some enjoyable vocals (in Hungarian) but is more than half instrumental, dominated by keyboardist Csaba Vedres, who favors piano and a Keith Emerson style and has the chops to match.
Transylvania is the western part of present-day Romania, where Romanians, Hungarians, and many other ethnic groups live together. TransylMania are a band similar to Kormorán, combining rock with Hungarian folk music and using many progressive arrangements. TransylMania use a full electric rock band lineup (keys, guitar, bass, drums) augmented by flute and pipes (or some instrument with a similar nasal sound) and featuring female and male vocals in a unique singing style. Legyen úgy, mint régen volt (2004, 60-minutes) translates to May It Be As It Was. El ne add az ősi házat (2006) translates to We Do Not Sell the Old House. Mert tudnom kell (2008) translates to Because I Need to Know. Great progressive world rock. Watch videos here.
Janos Varga was formerly the guitarist for the band East. His music has its roots in the mid-1970s. Apparently East was an instrumental progressive rock band in the 1970s (their first album didn’t appear until the early 1980s and contained vocals) and for unknown political reasons, their instrumental material was never released. On The Wings of Revelation I (2000), Varga teams with ex-East drummer Istvan Kiraly and After Crying’s synth/piano player Zoltan Lengyel. On The Wings of Revelation II (2002), Varga again teams with Istvan Kiraly, this time with bass/Stick player Peter Hary and keyboardist Szabolcs Nagy. The resulting instrumental music is certainly more guitar-centric than East, a progressive workout with mostly high-energy tracks offset by a couple introspective acoustic tracks. Aside from East, reference points include Camel, Pink Floyd, Dixie Dregs, and a more symphonic Jeff Beck.
You and I’s third album Exit (2001) is a monumental achievement. After the relatively commercial Go, You and I have made not only their most progressive album but one of the top melodic prog albums of the new millennium. They have a world-class female vocalist in Szomor Fanni Völgyessy, whose voice is comparable to Joanne Hogg of Iona. After Annie Haslam, there isn’t a better female singer in progressive rock today. After two albums with English lyrics, here they revert to their native Hungarian (English translations provided in the booklet), and they’ve now got the vocal/instrumental balance right. As you might surmise from their name, You and I are primarily Yes-influenced, but not overly so. In fact, this is often better than what Yes seems capable of now. For a concept album based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, this is certainly filled with life energy! Read the Musical Discoveries review.
Go (1999), their second, has more song structures and pop stylings than their other albums, but it’s all extremely well done, with some sophisticated vocal multi-tracking. The real reason for prog fans to get this album is the 12-minute Invisible Ties, as fine a piece of Yes-inspired prog rock as any produced in the 1990s, an absolutely outstanding track. If you hate melody, songwriting, and positive emotions, avoid this CD.
Their self-titled 1995 first album falls between Exit and Go on the progressive spectrum, coming across as more sedate than Exit. It’s a very fine debut; it’s just that the instrumentalists take a back seat to the vocals. Because singer Fanni sings in English with only the slightest of accents, You and I sound like an English prog band on this album. They even include a traditional English song Wedding Day (She Moved Through the Fair).