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(54 min, Poseidon)
TRACK LIST: 1. Introduction 1:37 2. Were I Able to Fly 4:37 3. Szurgundejnem 4:45 4. Shikadam 4:41 5. Kalimba 7:21 6. I'll Run 7:24 7. Night Train 7:27 8. Mountains Should Move Though 7:00 9. Fifteen 9:23 LINEUP: Csaba Hajnoczy - guitars Gabi Kenderesi - vocals Hu Grencso - wind instruments Tamas Olveczky - drums Arpad Vajdovich - bass
Prolusion. The Hungarian band KAMPEC DOLORES was formed in 1984 by the first two musicians whose names you can see in the personnel above. As far as I could figure out from their website, "Earth Mother Sky Father" is their sixth studio album, following "Kampec Dolores" (1988), "Levitation" (1991), "Eye of the Needle" (1993), "Rapid" (1996) and "Sitting on the Buffalo" (2000), most of which were released in Europe via the ReR label, which is run by the famous avant-garde guitarist and composer Fred Frith (formerly of Henry Cow). This is my first acquaintance with Kampec Dolores.
Analysis. It is probably necessary to live very many years to reason like Ecklesiast, who immortalized his name by saying: "What was that will be, what was doing that will be doing, and there is nothing new under the sun". I believe there is, still. "Earth Mother Sky Father" sounds extremely fresh to my ears, unlike anything else I've heard before, which is far, though, from being the only virtue of this effort. Upon the first spin I didn't get into the album, having found it to be too accessible (yeah), but its highly uncommon nature touched something in the dusty attic:-) of my subconscious and forced me to take another dive into its sonic waters. And then all at once a hot volcano boiled up in my brain, my mind's rational component stiffened and, the next moment, fully capitulated before the magical beauty of this music. Be patient, in the event you get this album. The main reason you would associate it with Prog Rock after an initial listen is that there are two compositions that are notable for some major digressions from the prevailing style. These are I'll Run and Night Train, following one another right below the album's conditional equator. Each reveals highly intricate RIO-like arrangements in the finale, though otherwise being overall in the same vein as the other songs. I won't list them, but be sure that all are also compelling, coming with a strong storyline and persuasive mysterious ambience. In the majority of cases the music is atmospheric and isn't overly complicated, but the arrangements that swing around the basic chords are always in a state of development, steadily increasing tension, and no flashy melodies that would stick in your head! All of which undoubtedly lifts this music far above the notorious pop Rock, so it would be blasphemous to define it this way. Each of the nine songs presented also features textures that reflect Hungarian folk influences. When Gabi Kenderesi's amazingly beautiful and expressive vocals quit the play, clever wind instruments (sax, flute and more exotic) emerge to lightly improvise over the subtle counterpoint created by guitar, bass, drums and percussion, all solos being done exclusively in different directions. In other words, much of this music gains its power not from kaleidoscopic changes in theme and tempo, but from well-conceived and perfectly executed contrasts in soloing, structure and dynamics.
Conclusion. The subtle delights of this work will reveal themselves with repeated listens, which is always a sign of essential music. At least at the moment, I sincerely consider "Earth Mother Sky Father" to be one of my most favorite pop-tinged progressive albums, as I do with regard to Landberk's "Indian Summer" for instance, which, though, is a horse of a quite different color.
VM: April 1, 2006
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