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Yesterdays - Saint​-​Exup​é​ry álma CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.08 | 65 ratings

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4 stars Saint-Exupéry álma (Saint-Exupéry's Dream) is Yesterdays' fourth studio album. I believe it's one of the best Hungarian progressive rock albums of the last few decades and one from my top 5 prog albums of 2022. It's the band's strongest and most powerful release.

As a Hungarian speaker I need to say this right away, the lyrics on this album are a real treat, beautiful poetry. So this is a big-big plus for Hungarian fans, but fortunately the beauty comes through the music also, thanks to Stéphanie Semeniuc's beautiful and expressive lead vocals.

It's safe to say that Yesterdays already has a unique sound despite the obvious Yes influences. Mellotrons, analog synths, vintage guitars, multiple vocal harmonies, good and long songs. Use these things and you get something similar to Yes or Genesis... add some flutes and female lead vocals with a special taste of Eastern European tradition and you get Yesterdays.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince is a good starting point for a concept album, but putting this tale in the context of Exupéry's short stories, the desert plane crash took the idea to a deeper level.

The CD booklet has been put together in English, introduction and storyline for non Hungarian speaking fans, so you can associate the meaning of each song to its part in the whole concept.

Rajzolj át is a fantastic and powerful opening statement. Fragile era Yes feel thanks to the Bogáti-Bokor Ákos' Howe inspired guitar runs and bass playing. After the Relayer-style middle part there's a bass solo melody that reminded me of Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water album. The coda has a strong sixties vibe... and we find ourselves deep in the story. "Draw me a sheep!"

Úgy várj majd rám is the Little Prince's goodbye to his tiny planet and the rose. A catchy chorus and a powerful upbeat guitar riff and we're in the middle part, a dreamy soundtrack-type chapter that reminded me of Harmonium, a true delight when the Minimoog steps in. The third part of the song is representing one of the instrumental highlights on the album. A crazy, virtuoso Minimoog solo comes in screaming while - again - Squire- like bass is thundering in the low end. Amazing skills again. And there's a talk box guitar solo too.

Estekék is the darkest song on the album with a powerful unison riff (guitar, bass, Moog Taurus) and countless vocal harmonies. The riff is the same melody we heard in the Squire-tribute part in Rajzolj át (there played by a symphonic orchestra). The ending's haunting flute-acoustic guitar duo is the most sad and yet uplifting thing on the album.

The big epic is called Esőtánc (Raindance) and it's the origin story of the Little Prince through all the hallucinations of the author in those three thirsty days in the desert. Well crafted parts joined together masterfully. The main melody returns on Hammond, piano, Minimoog, a 5 part vocal fugue and on acoustic guitar. There are parts which reminded me of Heart if the Sunrise or Watcher of the Skies. Gentle Giant-like fughettas and mellotron tricks. This song needs more listening to catch all the nuances. Again, the lyrics are amazing good on this track.

After every epic there's a need for a more relaxed song to channel the emotions and tension. In Ma minden érdekel there's a light, catchy verse, a power-pop style chorus and a solo part that could be part on a Flower Kings album, Roine Stolt-style guitar solo, but I can hear a little bit of Dave Navarro in it as well.

The passing of the Little Prince is definitely about the tragic passing of the band's keyboard player, Enyedi Zsolt... a calm waltz on a piano accompanied by a symphonic orchestra and a flute solo. Such a beautiful piece of music, reminiscent of Locanda delle Fate. But while you are embraced by beauty and nostalgy, A méreg (the Venom) drastically changes the mood and presents the Little Prince's ambivalent feelings about death.

Engedj el (Release me) is my favorite moment on the album. Clear Genesis' Duke mood with Yamaha electric piano and Phil Collins' drum machine sound from Duchess. Such a perfect way to end a concept album like this. This is why I think Saint-Exupéry álma is one of the strongest Hungarian prog albums. Not only the beautiful melody and harmonies in rich second-chords make this sound special, but again, the lyrics are so beautiful, I wish the bands could include translations of these poems in the booklet.

Rajzolj újra át is the final and shortest song on the album, with The Beatles style chord voicings and mood, a gentle acoustic song with positive aftertaste to intentionally calm down the previous song's emotions.

I am happy that Yesterdays took the courage to make music about this concept. There's no doubt this will become a classic Hungarian prog album. Hungarian prog is still a thing, this warms my heart. Highly recommended, very enjoyable album with its four and a half shiny stars, not just for Hungarians.

Stargirl79 | 4/5 |


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