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Panta Rhei - Bartok CD (album) cover


Panta Rhei


Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 16 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Barbaric

Hungarian band Panta Rhei (not to be confused with the German band of the same name, or the similarly named Swedish band Panta Rei) were formed in or around 1974. Pretty much unknown beyond their own borders, the band were heavily influenced by Emerson Lake and Palmer and that band's predecessors King Crimson and The Nice. The fact that this their first album is named after and based upon the works of Bartok is an early clue to the bands influences. It was an interpretation of a Bartok piece which introduced us to ELP on "The Barbarian", the first track on their first album.

This album was never actually released at the time of its recording, as Bartok's descendants effectively blocked it. In recent times however, the band have made the music available via their website.

There are six track in total here. Three were recorded live, the three studio recordings originally being intended to form the band's first single. All the pieces are adaptations of original Bartok compositions. The dominant sound is that of Hammond organ very like that of Keith Emerson on ELP's early albums.

The opening "Quarts" has immediate similarities with "The Barbarian", Andras Szalay's bass playing being very similar to the style of Lake. One of the band's early claims to fame was that they designed and built their own synthesisers. The first evidence of these is on "Harlequin", a second short but punchy track to introduce the band. Things get more interesting with "Rumanian dances", the final studio track, which has a more intricate structure and some dynamic effects.

At over 12 minutes, "Dance suite" is the longest track here. It is also the first of the live tracks, although you'd be hard pressed to tell. This is the first track to feature any vocals at all, Eniko Acs mixing spoken word with sung verses. He has a strong Italian prog style voice, which adds an extra dimension to the track. Kalman Matolcsy is soon sharing centre stage again with another lengthy keyboard solo. Around the midpoint of the track, the pace changes and the piece moves into a virtuoso monophonic synth solo, the track at this point perhaps borrowing from "Karn evil 9, part 3". We also have a quick burst of what sounds very like "Abadon's bolero".

"Ostinato" is notable mainly because it features a different drummer to the rest of the tracks, Miklos Kiss. Apart from that though, this piece is adequate but unremarkable apart from some impressive synth improvisation. The closing "Allegro barbaro" is the Bartok piece which actually became "The Barbarian". The version here is in reality more of a stright cover of the ELP track than a new interpretation by Panta Rhei.

"Bartok" is an impressive, if sadly stillborn, debut by Panta Rhei. While they are unlikely to win any awards for originality of sound, their Hammond and synth based music will appeal to ELP fans. Worth investigating.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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