lunedì 30 dicembre 2019


Fermáta are a rock band from Bratislava and their first four albums are all highly regarded by prog nerds. 
Entirely instrumental, "Huascaran" is their third studio work and it stands out for its dedication to the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Peru in 1970. In a nation such as Slovakia, where rock music had been put in chains, naming an album to the brothers of a distant country could be considered a political act. 

This line-up of Fermáta was composed by four fantastic musicians, able to merge the angular jazz-rock of Mahavishnu Orchestra and the jazz fusion smoothness of the Weather Report. Guitarist František Griglák dominates the former side, whilst keyboard player Tomáš Berka stands out on the latter. Some parts are closer to symphonic prog, submerged by layers of futuristic string synthesizers.

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mercoledì 27 novembre 2019


Dežo Ursiny was one of the most consistent Slovak musicians, both artistically and from a human character perspective. In the mid Sixties he refused to leave his country to seek success in Germany, and during the communist normalization he had the courage to sing in English, condemning his music to be boycotted by the authority. 
He decided to sing in Slovak only in 1978, convinced by the lyrics his friend and poet, Ivan Štrpka, offered him. The result was this cult album, perhaps too complex to win over mainstream audiences. 

Symphonic prog, jazz fusion, and baroque pop are mixed in five tracks which combine the staple instruments of rock music with chamber strings, harpsichord, brass and wood instruments (including an unusual English horn). Keyboards are played by Jaro Filip, another legend of Slovak music.

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venerdì 22 febbraio 2019


When posting more than one album by the same artist, I usually go by chronological order. Having already discussed Locomotiv GT's debut album, some may find it odd that I'm skipping to their eight one. However, as we are talking about my favourite album by this band and one of my favourite Hungarian albums in general, I just couldn't wait.

By the time this album was recorded, Locomotiv GT had a completely different line-up, with Gábor Presser being the only constant musician. The other three members joined the band between 1973 and 1977.

"Loksi" became their best selling album up to that moment, especially thanks to the weird disco-funk hit "Embertelen dal". In its 17 songs you can find lots of different influences, ranging from yacht rock ("A dal a miénk") to prog ("Prológ és trialóg"), from piano ballads ("Ha eljönnek az angyalok") to boogie rock ("Szentimentális rakenroll"), from soul ("Gondolj rám") to electronic music ("Áldd meg a dalt").
The production is excellent, with many keyboard instruments and experimental sounds, but this does not come at the expense of its songwriting. I would describe the overall sound as "art rock", since every song is extremely refined and smartly arranged.

Gábor Presser
vocals, synth, piano, percussion, bells, vocoder
Tamás Somló 
vocals, bass, sax, harmonica, percussion, brasswinds
János Karácsony 
vocals, guitars, percussion, synth, piano
János Solti
drums, percussion

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venerdì 8 febbraio 2019


Collegium Musicum were founded by Slovak composer and keyboard player Marián Varga in 1969. 
The band was entirely built around his virtuoso style, influenced by classical composers (especially from the baroque era and Eastern Europe) and coeval rock musicians such as Keith Emerson. 
That said, the Emerson comparision, although quite fair, is often exaggerated, since Varga had a very original style and a "Slavonic sense of timing, coming in that millisecond early or late, similarly to traditional folk music" (this is a definition given by a ProgArchives user, which I endorse).

"Konvergencie" is the second album of the band, and it is composed by four long suites, with lots of Hammond organ fugues, piano and pseudo-harpsichord parts, intricate rhythms, and guitars with folk and blues influences.

"Piesne z kolovrátku" is the only track actually sung by members of the band, whilst "Suita po tisíc a jednej noci" and "Eufónia" are both instrumental, and "P. F. 1972" contains two short parts with a children choir.
Most of the music has no lyrics, since the band was trying to find a way around the strict censorship.

Collegium Musicum:
Fedor Frešo - bass guitar, mandobass
František Griglák - guitars, mandolin
Dušan Hájek - drums
Marián Varga - organ, piano, synth, bells

Vocals on "Piesne z kolovrátku": Fedor Frešo, František Griglák, Pavol Hammel

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venerdì 1 febbraio 2019


S Vremena na Vreme are one of the most important folk bands in Serbia. They became famous for mixing the Balkan tradition with the Western world sound, influenced by Simon & Garfunkel and the American West Coast. 
This is their debut album, which also reflects a strong progressive rock approach, due to some unusual song structures and to the presence of electric and electronic keyboards (Hammond organ, Roland synthesizer).

S Vremena na Vreme:
Miomir Đukić - acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, prim, šargija, backing vocals
Vojislav Đukić - acoustic guitar, prim, backing vocals
Asim Sarvan - vocals
Ljubomir Ninković - vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, synthesizer, organ, šargija, congas 

Robert Nemeček - bass guitar
Nikola Jager - drums
Ivo Umek - organ (tracks 6 and 10)
Bato Popović - congas (track 7)
Maja Elman - flute (track 9)
Studijski Orkestar RT Ljubljana (tracks 4 and 10)

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