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Magyar Posse - Random Avenger CD (album) cover

RANDOM AVENGER

Magyar Posse

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.33 | 34 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Magyar Posse are a post-rock group from Finland who have yet to follow-up this amazing album. As more evidence that there is no justice in the world, this album is currently out-of- print and was never easy to find to begin with. Such a shame as this is an album that more people should hear and own. This is both the first post-rock album I have given 5 stars to and the most recent album I have given 5 stars to. Generally, no matter how great they are, a lot of the best post-rock albums still have a little bit of filler or parts that don't seem to go anywhere and add little. I do not give out any 'masterpiece' ratings until that release is a least 5 years old. Random Avenger has stood the test of time long enough to be considered a masterpiece in my opinion. Some think this band has a weird name for a Finnish group; 'Magyar' means 'Hungarian' but apparently the group named themselves after a brand of wine.

The band here changes their sound from the cinematic moodiness of Kings Of Time. Random Avenger is more rocking and symphonic while the drumming is far more important, yet also contains some Steve Reich inspired minimalism. There are two keyboardist here and the keys as well as the violin are very important to the sound. Some odd meters are used as well as wordless vocals, sometimes in harmony or a single female voice. The music is almost linked thematically due to some of the melodies in different songs being similar. Not only are the compositions excellent and well executed but the production is sympathetic to them and the whole album has a great flow to it.

The journey begins with a "Whirlwind Of Terror And Tension" which is a great opener and one of the best tracks. Very symphonic sounding with a restless, urgent vibe. The guitar here almost sounds like 1960s acid rock in places. Features some of those great harmony 'la-la' vocals you hear throughout the album. Goes into a brief GYBE style atmospheric non- music section before returning to the main theme. Nice solo singing towards the end that gets delayed/repeated before it stops. "Sudden Death" starts out in a similar way to the previous song but this is both more upbeat and dramatic sounding. Nice synth sounds in this track. I like the ascending and descending melody done on violin before the music changes and melancholic piano takes over.

The drums, guitar and violin proceed to build up to a crescendo but never actually make it there. Instead it settles down a bit and the music changes yet again to symphonic rock. The beginning melody is reprised at the end. "Black Procession" is under 3 minutes long and like "One By One" could be considered filler if listened to outside the context of the album. Some background sounds are drowned out by almost horror-movie style piano and emotional violin playing. Works as a great segue when you listen to the whole album. The centerpiece of Random Avenger is the 12 1/2 minute title track (sort of) "European Lover/Random Avenger." Opening with very classical sounding piano as if it were recorded off an old radio, more keyboards join it and then guitar picking and fast jazzy hi-hat. Then the bass comes in and the drummer hits the snare rim.

The violin sets up the main musical theme which just builds and builds gloriously from here. Ascending and descending melodies and wordless singing are all part of the fun in this song. Around 4 minutes begins a break where a mini-solo on synth and jazzy cymbal work lead to the best part: where the violin plays it's heart out as the drummer is bashing his cymbals like there is no tomorrow. The second half is more traditionally post-rock sounding yet still symphonic. Some noises on the guitar strings are joined by some guitar strums which create a melody. Vibraphone sets up the final musical theme. The rest of the track builds up in a stereotypical post-rock way but with some great sustained string-synth notes along for the ride. Ends with some accordion that sounds like it was recorded off an old radio.

"Intercontinental Hustle" has a similar vibe to the first two tracks. More great violin work here. Before 3 minutes is some interesting keyboard work and then it goes back to the main melody, already in the process of building a crescendo. The tempo picks up at the end and it almost sounds like space-rockers Ozric Tentacles or even Hawkwind. "One By One" is a 3 minute piece which features lovely acoustic guitar picking. Some background sounds and vocals. Gets spacier towards the end. Like "Black Procession" this works as a segue but would not stand on it's own. "Popzag" is the last song and true to it's name its the most poppy song here, but that is mostly because it is more upbeat and optimistic sounding than the rest of the album. More great 'la-la' vocals here. Some good guitar after 3 minutes. Great mix of Leslie-fied guitar and organ/synth at one point. In fact, the main melody/riff of the song is done on organ.

Magyar Posse was one of those bands who just got better and better with every release but unfortunately have not yet followed up Random Avenger. Maybe this album is so perfect they realize they will never top it...or even match it in terms of quality. Definitely one of the better post-rock releases of the past 10 years. This is post-rock that would appeal to fans of symphonic prog or possibly even Crossover or Neo as well. I hope this album gets released again because it deserves to be and is one of the best albums of the 2000s. Try and find a used copy or a digital version of Random Avenger because it just great, great, great. There is very little I can criticize about this, 5 stars.

zravkapt | 5/5 |

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