Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Barbaro - Barbaro III CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.53 | 11 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars Radio Free Europe - Imitation is the sincerest form of flatulence

It's been a long, long time since I was this excited by any band being admitted to PA. Yep, the lure of Eastern European folk music, visceral rock and a refreshingly spiky irreverence for all things with a 'fresh lemony smell', Barbaro just had to flick the switch to have me fluttering like a delusional moth pretending to volunteer for the fire service. If you can imagine Tom Verlaine and Robert Fripp cast as disaffected Hungarian youths, eager to exploit their indigenous musical heritage out-with the yawning orifices of academica and the exotic trifles of slumming intelligentsia, there is much that will resonate within you when untapped by this unerringly spiffy album. Originality is damned elusive to describe as we are forever trapped in metaphor i.e. we can only describe any phenomenon by comparing it to another. So I admit defeat, let's try Pere Ubu, Josef K, Crimson, Chou Pahrot (who? ask Easy Livin) Television, shed loads of feisty attitude and erm....Bartok (from whom they took their name re the latter's Allegro Barbaro)

It is unnerving to hear what is to all intents and purposes, a guitar band couch their music in the dialect and articulation of the Balkans with the disarming honesty, transparency and muscular pride that Barbaro do here. This is NOT ethno rawk, Budapest boogie or Chuck Berry in billowing Magyar pants. This is rock music freed from the shackles of imitation, hot chicks in Cadillacs and pubescent leather upholstered cramps via the CIA funded RFE's 'they'll never understand' 24/7 transmissions. The twin guitars here collide, cuddle, squabble, embrace, shriek, caress, spit and chime with a restless pugnacity that is exhilarating to behold and impossible to resist. You can hear flesh pressed against protesting metal, drum skins stretch in futile retreat, a singer breathing, the air moving, valves glowing, the analogue needles ramping: the neck hairs stir and the closest thing we dare still call magic begins. Electricity, wires, pregnant space, sinews, tendons, flexed muscles, the tactile and the visceral: blood rises and Stasis is the only acknowledged crime in this new yet spookily familiar neighbourhood. (Keep your pet sounds indoors)

All of us can imitate say, an American accent with insouciant and unwitting comic ease, but an innate immersion in syntax is a prerequisite of any native speaker. Ergo, Barbaro do not sprinkle their indigenous culture into their art as a spicy piquance to appease those earnest ethno-musicologists who suffocate, label, catalogue and exhibit their mummified paramour in a museum. By way of contrast, this is what rock and roll was supposed to evolve into when we fooled ourselves into thinking the globalisation of the counter culture would resist the trade winds of marketing.

Like their fellow countryman and inspiration Bela Bartok, Barbaro do not dress peasant melodies in contemporary alien apparel, they construct and fashion new music using the modes, scales and rhythms from that source as effortlessly as Macedonian children sing and dance their playground skipping rhymes in 22/16. The abiding conceit that Prog is the preserve of 'difficult' or 'odd' meters is long passed being merely irritating: it's plain vanilla redundant. It's the phrase length that determines the time signature of any music and it really shouldn't require a quantum leap in anyone's thinking to deduce that just like good soccer refs, you really shouldn't notice they're there at all. Otherwise the effectiveness of their perceived natural 'musicality' is compromised.

What's interesting for me about my favourite guitar bands (but please feel free to be bored s.h.i.t.less anyway) is that they utilise two guitars with a holistic bent i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of the separate parts. Verlaine/Lloyd from Television, Richards/Taylor from the Stones and Belew/Fripp from Crimson all exemplify this approach. They dispense with the strict chordal/lead allocation of roles and instead weave an accompaniment that implies the harmonies while allowing them recourse to the practically infinite possibilities of counter melody, extended chord voicings, timbral texture layering and counterpoint. So all well and good if ya dig blindingly fabby geetar instrumental malarkey but what about the toons, the hooks and those bits you can holler along to in the bath innit? Well wipe those tears from your visor proggernaut, as the song writing is sublime, inspired and given the building materials I alluded to earlier, commensurately innovative and unconventional. So there ain't a single baby clanger on the event horizon.

Special mention has to be made of one Miklos Both whose velvet tonsilry adorns this album. (He also plays and sings in another excellent Hungarian band called 'Napra' who are a tad more traditional and lighter/poppier in orientation but well worth checking out) Although I have absolutely no idea what he is singing about he emotes with a plaintive urgency shorn of all evident artifice and has a textural and dynamic range that suits the material perfectly (wouldn't it be hideously ironic if the whole undertaking was really about elves on magic mushrooms, coma inducing spliff, biker babes and ancient oriental mystic pish? I'd never live that one down) Let's also not forget my routine and ingrained pickyness about the bane of many a rock album: overly compressed drum kit sounds by clearly 'chipped off their tits' engineers as a first lazy resort to getting the kit audible above the crunchy guitars and bass. Sandor Herpai gets an unqualified thumbs up (Do rodents have thumbs?) for both his thrilling playing and the wide range of dynamics captured on this sumptuous recording. In other words you get the light and shade normally found on acoustic jazz sessions but with the energy of a rock thumper (albeit a very good and sympathetic 'musical' one, no offence intended Mr Herpaj)

Buy this critter today and acknowledge 'culture' for what it really is: a device exploited by those unable or unwilling to articulate their own ideas. (there's no pressure)

ExittheLemming | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this BARBARO review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.