From Aural Innovations #38 (Jan 2008)
The Hungarian music scene has always fascinated me since the first times I heard The Galloping Coroners (Vagtazo) and Korai Öröm. My grandfather was born and lived in Budapest until he was in his 20’s and he immigrated to the USA before the 2nd world war. It was in the early 90’s that I ran across the Galloping Coroners and was turned onto Korai as well. Over the years I have corresponded with and met some of these great people and have tried to keep up on some of the cool bands. This article is to try to give people an overview of some of the coolest bands (I am sure there are more out there as well…) that we know quite a bit about and hopefully we will turn you onto some cool music.
On string that ties a lot of these bands together are their interesting use and integration of ethnic music, instruments, themes and the way they use them to create quite a unique sound. You can go to the Hungarian music web site (www.songs.hu) to check out these and a lot of other bands as well. Most, if not all these bands have myspace pages as well. Anyway, let’s start with the oldest band.
Vágtázó Halottkémek (the Galloping Coroners)
Vágtázó is a very old band, started by Attila in 1975! The band was one of the first to play outside of Hungary, developing a following in Germany in the early 80’s. They even came and played in Denmark in 1982 at the old Ungdomshuset (which they recently tore down and you might have read about the riots that occurred around the time of it’s closing). The band had a bit of a break through in 1991 when Jello Biafra’s record label (Alternative Tentacles) released their first real record. 1992, the amazing Hammering at the Gates of Nothingness. The band created two really excellent records in the late 90s, called Reconquering Eden 1 and 2 and these would be the last of this incarnation of the band. The music is a mixture on intense spoken (or shouted) poetry, message mixed with quite intense psychedelic rock. Early on the band was very influenced by punk and later more a hard rocking psychedelic freakout sound evolved. The leader, Attila Grandpiere is also holds a PhD in Astrophysics and explores a lot of interesting ideas and theories in his research that clearly come up I his intense lyrics as well.
The original Vágtázó disbanded in 2000 after 26 years
and in 2005, Vágtázó reappeard in a new incarnation now
called, Vágtázó Csodaszarvas, which means The Galloping
Wonder Stag. This new band has the same attitude as the original band but uses
ancient instruments and is like a folk rock version of the old Vágtázó.
They have released only one CD, Pure Spring and it is fantastic! So far the
band has only performed to great appraise in Hungary. Look out for more.
1988 Teach death a Lesson
1990 Jumping out the World-Instinct
1991 Jumping out the World-Instinct (US release)
1992 Hammering at the Gates of the Nothingness
1994 Giant Space (Live)
1997 Reconquering Eden
1998 Reconquering Eden 2
1999 Dancing with the Sun
Korai Öröm (which means Early Fun) has been around since the early
90’s and have produced many great instrumental ethnic psychedelic records.
This is the band that is probably the best well known in Europe of any of the
bands in this genre and they used to tour in Germany, Denmark, Holland and other
countries quite regularly the last many years but not recently. Via my tape
trading network I got a hold of the original Early Fun tape from 1993 and was
instantly loving this band. It was finally released on CD a few years back by
the band, along with some other great music. The first CDs simply entitled 1995,
1996 and 1997 showed a cool progression into more and more tranced out and intense
mostly instrumental groove music. At this time the band was a big band with
more than 10 members (lots of drummers) and ethnic mix with psychedelic rock
was perfect. The band has no song titles on any of their records. In 2000 and
2001 they released the two Sound and Vision CDs, which included some live video
as well as music. The music one these records were a bit more laid back but
still really cool. The 2nd one was released on vinyl by Burnt Hippie Records
in Denmark (A label that I was part of). There was no new studio album for 4
years and then 2005 appeared. This was quite a step in a new direction with
a more mainstream sound and some female vocals on a couple of tracks. In between,
Emil and others had become more involved with the electronic music scene and
this lead to the Reflected CD, which is like techno-dance remixes of Korai tracks.
The band has been threatening to release a live DVD but still has not. They
have an amazing visual show when you see them live with at least two high resolution
projectors creating a nice visual trip. In 2007, the band has been recording
a new CD, which should be out in 2008. Check the web page below for more info.
1993 Early Fun Cassette (also on CD now)
1998 Recycled (DJ remix record)
2000 Sound and Vision
2001 Sound and Vision 2
2007 Live at Kultiplex 2007 (MP3 format only)
ColorStar have been around since 1996 and have produced 3 full length CDs
and one EP. The band used to make really cool ethnic space rock music but with
Komfort and perhaps their new music they have moved into a much more ethnic
psychedelic dance direction with a lot less guitar (Komfort). Still very melodic
and cool music though. You can read the reviews of this band at Aural Innovations.
While I really like the bands first spacerock record which fans of Ozric Tentacles
would surely dig, the new stuff has a special unique vibe to it as well but
clearly more radio friendly and less psychedelic. The band will release a new
studio CD and DVD in 2008..
1999 1.999 CDEP
2001 Viva LaMusica
Kampec Delores was formed in 1984 and has had a very interesting and strange
musical career. I have only heard two of their records but each one is very
unique and features the very special vocal qualities of Kenderesi Gabi and guitar
playing of Hajnóczy Csaba. They have been the core of the band since
the beginning and they are joined by other great musicians. The music is quite
challenging and you never quite know what to make of it. The band does a lot
of improvistation on their records and live. They have played all over Europe
and were recently in Japan in 2006. Experimental jazz indie strange music…
hard to define..
1988 Kampec Dolores
1993 Tu fokán (Eye of the Needle)
1996 Zúgó (Rapid)
2000 A bivaly hátán (Sitting on the Buffalo)
2006 Earth Mother Sky Father
Uzgin Uver was formed in 1991 in Kecskemet, Hungary. The name itself is the name of a Mongolian settlement, where an ancient sacred burial ground was discovered. It means something like ’dry desert area’, ’poor harvest’. The band play instrumental music that is very multi ethnic in nature but and like sort of psychedelic folk music. They also have a very unique sound that is difficult to describe. The band uses all kinds of instruments including: violin, drums, electric guitar, sampler, sax, clarinet, different kinds of flute, zurna, kaval, duduk, Jewish harp, pipe…. Really cool band if you are into interesting ethnic music with a psychedelic feel to it.
1992 Poor Harvest home-made demo tape
1995 CD I - Bahia
1999 CD II - Bahia
2002 Puppet/theater/music - Bahia
2004 Voros Rebek - K.Petrys
2005 Voros Reworkz - Pseudo Rekordz (the remix album of O. Drieu/France)
Másfél have been around for quite some years and have radically changed their style from the early days when they played some pretty hard edged psychedelic rock with horns. IT was a strange but very effective mixture of unique music. Now the band plays more guitar pop stuff but still with horns and much more electronica mixed into it. I have actually only heard the Viperflat (great and intense material) and Mese releases. They are still making some intense music just very different.
1993 Mese (Tale)
1994 Kínai nátha (Chinese flu)
1996 Viperagarzon (Viperflat)
1997 Villamos (Tram)
1998 Katasztrófamámor (Flush of Catastrophe)
2000 Angyaltojás (Angel's Egg)
2000 Rádióbarátno (Radiogirlfriendly) CD single
2001 Moni (Remix CD)
2003 Ballast (Live CD)
2005 En Garde!
Trottel have been making their own unique blend of psychedelic rock since 1985 and have released a lot of material and nearly every record is quite different and they have gone from having female vocals, to instrumental to male and female vocals but they have made a lot of instrumental music and in 2001 they changed the name to The Trottel Stereodream Experience and released a really cool and spacey CD of the same title. Since 1993 they have been releasing their material on their own record label. Very unique band.
1989 Borderline Syndroma
1990 Your Sincere Innocence Mini LP
1991 The Final Salute Dupla LP
1993 The Same Story Goes On
1994 1986-1988 Trottel Archiv cassette
1995 The Stolen Garden
1997 Troxx Tracks CD
2000 Fluid CD
2002 A Trottel Stereodream Experience CD
Flyjam are a new Hungarian band.
http://www.flyjam.hu/ (their website is often painfully slow)
Sonar is also a very new Hungarian band that is maintaining the tradition of killer instrumental music with a psychedelic and spacey edge. The band has only released on 4 track EP but it is great stuff.
László is a legend and a master at his craft of musical synthesis. It is an art. I won’t bother to explain it in detail but basically László takes samples of old, new, and all kinds of world music and blends it all together to create music journeys and trips to another world and time. You can read a lot about him on the net and try to find some of his CDs. A few of my personal favourites are:
You can also read an interview that I did with this amazing man back in 2001 at: http://www.el-horto.hu/interviews/ScottHeller/index.html
1988 Op. Transreplica Meccano
1991 Novum Organum
1989 Traditional Music of Amygdala
1990 6th All-India Music Conference
1992 The Arcadian Collection
1993 Ritual Music of Fomal Hoot al-Ganoubî
1995 Terra Dei
1996 The Transglobal & Magic Sounds of Lâszlô Hortobâgyi (compilation)
1994 Summa Technologiae
1996 Songs from Hungisthân
1997 Sangeet Novus Sensus
1997 Chill Out (double compilation)
1999 Songs from Hungisthân
2000 Sangeet Novus Sensus
2000 The Brief History of GUO
2002 el-Horto Ang
2002 GUO-Live: Sangeet Sammelan
2002 Mixology 2004
2006 Babel 2007