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Solaris - Marsbéli Krónikák (Martian Chronicles) CD (album) cover



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5 stars Just listen to Mars Poetica to enjoy Solaris at their best . The title track with its cheesy synths sounds dated now , but this is overall a great CD. However nothing on this CD really compares with LA 2026 found on their 1990 CD. That track is awesome
Report this review (#6609)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Martian Chronicles are one of the best concept albums I´ve ever heard, it really impressed me.

The mix of synths sometimes will remind Jarre or Tangerine Dream, but on the other hand when they come with those guitars they really knock you off, particularly in Mar's Poetica. It's a must specially if you like symphonic prog rock.

Report this review (#6612)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of THE symphonic rock albums from the eighties,coming from East-Europe.A lot of electronics and rhythm-aparature is used all over the disc.Could be slightly influenced by Tangerine Dream,but has the roots from those typical Hungarian bands,such as Omega,East in a very symphonic way.Call it electronic symphonic rock if you like.I should recommend it to all symphonic rock lovers to have this album in their collection,because it's certainly indispensable for them.For all other music's certainly not a bad idea for a purchase.
Report this review (#6613)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Marsbeli Kronikak" (Martian Chronlicles) is one of the greatest symphonic prog albums of all time. SOLARIS provide some great swirling keyboards (and lots of them), injected with some incredible flute, bass and guitar, surrounded by complex drumming . This recording moves in and out of many different moods throughout the recording taking on many different personas. This is some of the coolest space instrumental prog you will ever hear. The intro is quite psyched out and has some alien child like voices throughout providing an very uneasy feeling. After the "Martian Chronicle Suite" we are treated to a couple of extra tracks which seem to blend in quite well actually. This recording is essential in my books and I am sure all lovers of space symphonic prog will be drooling over this one.
Report this review (#6615)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
5 stars "The Martian Chronicles" was released in 1983, and quickly became a hit in Hungary. But, it wasn't until about 1995, after SOLARIS played Progfest '95, that the rest of the prog world got a chance to discover this Eastern European gem. The album starts off with a side-long epic entitled "The Martian Chronicles Parts 1-6" which mixes Klaus SCHULZE-like synth work, with overly melodic interplay between piano, guitar, and flute. Nothing here gets too complex, rather the band seemed to have focused on creating beautiful, and playful, themes. After the side-long epic, things get a bit more aggressive with my favorite piece called "Mars Poetica". In my opinion, this sounds like a progressive, and instrumental, version of IRON MAIDEN with flutes, and Moog synths thrown in. The album goes on to end with a few more shorters tracks that feature aggressive synth solos, melodic flute interludes, and metal-guitar riffing. A classic!

Report this review (#6616)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album was written over twenty years ago, smack in the middle of the 'boring 80s'. Consequently, its production does have a sort of 80ish ring to it. But the music is so original and infectious I can't help but love it. Think TANGERINE DREAM that actually rocks, with real themes and an incredible variety of inspired musical phrases; then speed the whole thing up about ten times and add a little classical twist to it all, and you'll get an idea of what "The Martian Chronicles" sound like.

This is simple music where the beat rarely goes beyond the 4/4 pattern, but that doesn't take anything away from the fine woven melodies and the originality of the arrangements, where the band clearly favours an overall-effect over individual play - although the ever-present flute lends a light touch to it all, as do the mischievous little 'martian' voices that spring up here and there. With lots of synths and fiery guitars, the music races at the speed of light and hardly lets up until the end. Many passages are bound to accelerate your pulse rate (check out "The Martian Chronicles parts IV, V and VI" and especially "M'Ars Poetica"), whereas a few mellow ones (such as the track "Solaris" and parts of some others) provide a welcome interval between the raunchy guitars and the speedy synth flights. Overall, this a fine space-rock album made by classicaly trained musicians who obviously had lots of fun doing it.

Report this review (#6618)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well except on the scientific fiction-based upon such an unknown Bradbury's book- an important font of inspiration (being quite inspiring), their music is a normal mix of an electronic/symphonic music-genre, with a few tunes in the vein of Jetro Tull (talking about the most "folk rock-oriented" albums of these latter), which are very interesting but not so extraordinary in my opinion. Of course it depends on my own tastes, but however the futuristic elements are almost totally absent here and well replaced by the melodic acoustic lines created by the guitars. Their concept is enriched by means of some skillful music passages and this feature alone is able to make the whole album a recommended opera to be collected. Stanislaw Lem (have you ever heard about "Solaris"?) gave the idea for the band's name, while Róbert Erdész was the main composer and always present in the development of their instrumental songs (think of his "spacial" synthesizers which actually represent their unique true approach to be regarded as "sci-fi oriented"):after all his immediate harmonic solutions make the role of the other members a secondary task,nevertheless -despite of his melodic and simple concept- at the end the output is memorable anyway; but naturally the team work is good and the ideas by Erdész excellent... to me that's enough!

Not equal to the best albums by After Crying,another great Magyar band, but it can complete your European Prog collection in a remarkable way!!

Report this review (#6620)
Posted Sunday, October 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars The Hungarian formation SOLARIS was originally founded by some school friends in 1980. The band's name was derived from the title of book by SF writer Stanislaw Lem. In '84 SOLARIS released their first album "The Martian Chronicles", it sold almost 40.000 copies. On "The Martian Chronicles" SOLARIS creates a very dynamic and compelling progressive mix of classical and rock music. It's build upon sensational interplay between fiery electric guitar, tasteful keyboards and a powerful flute with lots of changing climates, surprising breaks and bombastic outbursts. Although SOLARIS sound rather unique, elements of JETHRO TULL (flute), MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND (Mini-moog solos with pitch bend) and JEAN MICHEL JARRE (electronic intro in the first part of the title track) can be traced. For me this CD is one of the highlights in progressive rock. What a powerful and great prog rock!
Report this review (#6621)
Posted Saturday, November 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have always had an ambiguous relationship with Neo-Prog, but this is the first LP of the Neo-Prog era 1979-88 (approx) that I consider an outright classic. Hungary's SOLARIS are a special band in the firmamnet of East European Prog and, unlike other NeoProg acts that sound diluted, this is prime symphonic space-prog. All the ingredients are present for a pleasurable prog experience: The full side suite The Martian Chronicles Pts. 1-6 is the centerpiece of the LP - a massive undertaking of symphonic grandeur. This is comparable, and on a par with that other masterpiece of space-prog: Pulsar's Strands of the Future - in fact aesthetically the LP's are very similar as is the bands line-up of instrumentation - Keyboards, Sequencers, durms, bass, flutes, guitars - the full monty as they say. Great versatile playing, lots of Floyd-ian guitar but with an energy surpassing Gilmour's often leaden style. Chorals add to the symphonic might - real chorals by the sound of it - and the production while not possessing the grit off the early seventies clearly avoids the over- digitalised coldness of Pendragon and the like. Some great spacey echoed flute playing on Side Two's "If the Fog Ascends" give the song an unexpected feel of the great lost German space-rock classic "DreamLab" by MYTHOS and "Mars Poetica" kicks along at a breakneck pace. Really - if grand symphonic rock is your bag - with a spacey atmosphere thsi LP is a must. Released on the Hungarian Start label [SLPM 17819] - I am unsure if this is even available on CD - but it should be if it isn't. The quality holds up right to the last note of the LP closer "Solaris" - this is a defining moment of East European Prog and maybe its pinnacle of the NeoProg era. Released in 1985 this towers of the nonsense that Pallas and the like were vomiting forth at the same time - Solaris show a real aesthetic knowledge and taste. PROG PERFECTION from the mid 80s. There are not many LP's from the Neo Prog era worthy of a 5 star rating in my opinion (and yes, I have listened to a lot of Neo Prog) but this one shines through - a diamond in the mid80s rough.
Report this review (#6622)
Posted Friday, January 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Solaris' official debut album is one of the most precious prog albums to come out in the 80s, and it certainly deserved a major amount of attention back then. Fate had another plan: it was determined that the worldwide acclaimed had to be postponed until the 90s, during the second phase of this incredible Hungarian band's career. The band's musical proposition is symphonic, full of the splendour and majestic colorfulness that only well-educated musicians like these can bring. But don't expect a modern band that simply emulates their 70s heroes. On the contrary, their repertoire gives room to a variety of refreshing ideas that serve to refurbish the symphonic prog ideology in a peculiar manner. Here you'll find passages of massive synthesizer paraphernalia, hints to Eastern European folklore, and even some hard rocking powerful guitar riffs - although, the rockiest passages feel more like a hardened UK than actual hard rock. The band functions beautifully as an ensemble, where team work usually sets the rules for the performances and arrangements of the musical ideas: nevertheless, it is fair to note Erdész Róbert's relevant labour on his keyboard orchestrations as a harmonic support for the band, and of course, Kollár Attila's impeccable flute playing, which turns out to be the main focus of the band's sound most of the times. The three part namesake suite kicks off the album: it filled the whole A-side of the vinyl edition. Part 1 feels like something out of an early J.-M. Jarre album, which serves as a proper introduction to the sci-fi theme mentioned in the suite's title. The following five sections are more frontally emblematic of Solaris' symphonic prog approach. The band make their transitions from one theme to another and from one mood to another with consistent fluidity, helping the succession of diverse motifs to remain cohesive. 'M'ars Poetica' follows with a focus on the most intense side of Solaris, while 'Ha Felszáll a Köd' brings us to a more serene realm, both with an accurate level of progressive complexity. Later on, 'Apokalipszis' and 'Legyözhetetlen' stick to the rockier side, with a brief, eerie interlude played by Kollár's overdubbed recorders sandwiched in the middle. The title track closes down the album's official repertoire with full epic splendour: this is prototypical Solaris. The two bonus tracks are pretty interesting, but IMHO, they should have been placed somewhere else, in order to keep the effect created by the climax of 'Solaris'. Anyway, let's go on with the review - 'Orchideák Bolygója' is a Vangelis-like synth excursion with some occasional interventions of lead guitar and flute, while 'A Sárga Kör' is a labour of constant reconstruction of a basic gypsy-inspired motif. Overall conclusion: a hidden treasure of the 80s that now can be appreciated as what it is and has always been - an opus that revitalized the legacy of symph prog for the 80s.
Report this review (#6624)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars SOLARIS is often regarded as one of the finest prog rock bands to come out of Hungary. I personally find "Marsbeli Kronikak" a tad overrated, but I can forgive that: 1. it was the 1980s, 2. Hungary at the time was still under communist rule, meaning anyone performing music and recording albums always had to meet with government approval before allowing the album to be released. I am totally convinced there would have been many more prog rock bands coming from that country had it not been communist (ditto for Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia), but of course more prog rock bands started surfacing in post- communist Hungary, the best-known example being AFTER CRYING.

OK, "Marsbeli Kronikak" is an album inspired by Ray Bradbury's book, The Martian Chronicles. The first half of the album consists of the side-length title track. It starts off rather electronic, with funny martian sounds speaking in Hungarian. As the music progresses, it then becomes more dominant by guitar and flute. The second half of the album consists of shorter tracks, many of them heavier pieces. The 1995 CD reissue also contains two bonus cuts, of unknown origin, but they seemed to be recorded in the same era, the last cut having a rather strong Eastern European-ethnic bent. I think my biggest complaint of the album is the band's use of synthesizers, the synth sounds are, no doubt about it, early '80s synths, but I guess in 1983 (when the album was recorded, it was released the following year) not too many bands, even west of the Iron Curtain, were too interested in still using the Mini Moog, ARP 2600, etc. (besides Moog and ARP had already went under by that time anyway). Still, this is definately one the better Eastern European prog albums I've heard.

Report this review (#6626)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I found this Hungarian jewel thanks to Prog Archives, and I don't know much about the band itself. So I thought I'd better be humble in my words about this album, and describe it to those not yet discovered it.

As you know, 1984 wasn't really a time of appreciation of pretentious music, and the bands that used to be pretentious were at this point eager to produce radio hits. Keeping this in mind, this album is a very nice discovery for every proghead! The music is all instrumental and I have NEVER heard synthesizers melt together with rock with a result this good! Fabulous! There are lots of resemblances to old-school symphonic prog here, but I think it's also quite unique and odd in a fashinating way. Maybe/probably it's the dominating synthesizers that makes it special. I don't know if I'm wrong here, but isn't the best musical discoverys those who are a bit odd? or a bit out of it's own time?

Report this review (#74657)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Beautiful from first to last note!! Totally symphonic, maybe is one of the best prog albums that I ever heard. Based on Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" the truth is the first 3 songs of the album are based directly on this book but who cares!

The album is almost totally instrumental but with great work on chorus on "The Martian Chronicles II-III". As I said the firts 3 songs are just one piece dedicated to Bradbury's book and looks like a little but powerful symphony. "Mar's Poetica" (track 4) is an excellent and very prog compositon with hard aarngements for keyboards. After this, you can enjoy songs like "Apokalipse", "Undefeteable", "Solaris" and the magical "The Planet of Orchids". If you really like prog this albums offers brilliant and heavenly moments supported mostly by flute (some Jethro/Camel sound), guitars and keyboards and a constant "in crescendo" sensation that makes you think than the next song is better than the last one you hear.

Report this review (#75508)
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Im sorry...who said prog rock died in 1977? I am absolutely convinced that this album tops any of the prog releases (those that should be considered) of the 80's and maybe even the late 70's. SOLARIS presents maybe not a new sound per say, but an extraordinarily refreshing combination of sounds that may well be known to you. Do not let this deterr you however: from the awe inspiring synth intro, heavy in atmospheres, to the synth/piano/flute runs to the magnificent crescendo in the middle, the "martian chronicles" captivate you until the end. What's even more interesting is that the following songs are far from being useless fillers..."M'ars Poetica" is probably the most bombastic song on the album presenting a new side of the band which had not been revealed on the epic. I won't go through the songs one by one as my fellow reviewers have, but I will say this: complex drumming, 4 synth players at their best, intricate&tight bass playing, and not too obtrusive guitar. Vocals are absolutely absent which is actually and advantage, allowing you to completely enjoy the magnificent intrumentation. ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL
Report this review (#108206)
Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars I have to thank the Prog Archives for introducing me to so many Hungarian bands, and especially After Crying, Rumblin Orchestra, and Solaris. While each of them has their own distinctive style, all three share a strong emphasis on classically-inspired music that is heavy on piano and keyboards, complex arrangements with elaborate progressions, and cerebral themes.

Solaris is one of my more recent discoveries, and this is the album that really got me hooked. The album is named after Ray Bradbury’s old collection of science fiction stories about the human colonization of Mars and the predictable and symbolic cultural, moral, and physical struggles that resulted from this space-age version of the age-old theme of occupation and cultural conflict. Like Bradbury’s stories, these tracks are loosed coupled by a general theme, but each also encapsulated and has its own sense of cohesion.

This is one of the few bands that managed to make music that is dominated by not one or two, but four keyboardists, with even guitarist the late Istvan Czigman logging time behind a moog. And speaking of the moog and ARP sounds, these were pretty dated instruments by the time Solaris recorded this album, but the sound remains appealing and pleasant to experience even today.

I think one of my earliest introductions to the moog synthesizers was through Gerry Rafferty’s epic release ‘City to City’ very early in 1978. And there are a few arrangements here that remind me a bit of some of that album’s tracks, particularly on the opening three-part “Marsbéli Kronikák” and “Apokalipszis” (apocalypse). And speaking of that track, here again is a song that is supposed to be about a devastating and destructive battle that doesn’t quite come off that way. This is a flute and electric guitar- laden tune that is really more suspenseful than actually devastating, but that’s okay in the context of this album since it is only one of many compositions, and not the underlying theme of the entire album.

Other standout tracks include “E-Moll Elöjátëk” (Prelude in E minor) with its energetic synthesized strings and keyboard effects that are a bit reminiscent of Alan Parsons Project’s own sci-fi themed album “I Robot”; the lush and lively “Legyözhetetlen”; the majestic and almost totally synthesized “Legyözhetetlen”; and the flute-lover’s dream “A sárga kör”.

This is a great album to listen to while reading a good science fiction novel on a quiet Sunday afternoon, which I plan on doing myself today. If this album would have been recorded twenty years later, I suspect it would have made its way into the soundtrack of a computer game somewhere, since it sounds a bit like gaming music but with a much higher caliber of technical skill than most of that type of music usually demonstrates.

There isn’t a bad track anywhere on this album, and for fans of synthesized keyboards, science fiction-themed music, and modern treatments on classically styled arrangements, you really can’t go wrong with this recording. The production quality is excellent as well, so there’s no distractions as there can be with some older recordings of this type. Highly recommended for symphonic music fans, and very close to being a masterpiece. The only thing missing for me personally is that connection to past experiences and memories that I tend to feel for classic albums of the days when I first discovered progressive music. Since I happened upon this band and this album later in life, those connections may well come in time, and I may revisit this one and give it that bump when they do. But for now I’ll give this a very high four stars, and return it to near the top of my heavy rotation list.


Report this review (#120142)
Posted Sunday, April 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Think of Canadian band SAGA, especially the "Silent Knight" LP without Michael Sadler's vocals. Toss in Ian Anderson-like flute...and you've got the entire Solaris - "Marsbeli Kronikak" LP, along with some interesting sound effects (aliens?). A tad overrated this one, but still recommended.
Report this review (#127613)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink

I decided to review this album motivated by a thread i saw today about this band, wich reminded me how amazing they are. This band truly could be from Mars, the way they managed to create sounds is beatiful and you can really feel like if you are traveling in space.

The music is a symphonic feast, passionated and original, but you can still hear some similarities with some people like Jarre and Tangerine Dream in the electronic aspect with some Mark Kelly and Jordan Rudess touch, Camel in the feeling of the guitar and flute and of course Jethro Tull in the more folkish way of playing flute.

Every sound, every note is right in place, and all instuments are coordinated very well and heard clearly as crystal (i'm taking about musicianship, not the quality of the recording), and the development of the songs is marvelous. I can´t talk much about each song individualy because they are intrumental songs very much alike some of them from each other, but instead listening the album track by track i rather enjoy it as a full story.

I´m not familiar with Hungarian Prog scene, having heard only Omega and After Crying, but without a doubt i can say that this band is one of the best of that country, and i hope to discover some others like this.

4.5 stars

Viva el Prog!

Report this review (#128288)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Solaris' Marsbéli Krónikák is one of the few shining lights that got unnoticed during that bleak 1980s period of progressive rock, not to mention the fact that very few people in the West ever heard this album. It wasn't until the 1990s and exposure on the Internet, plus someone taking the time to reissue this on CD that the West finally got to hear this amazing gem from this five-piece instrumental band from Hungary. I first discovered the band by reading their entry in the GEPR in the late 1990s.

Marsbéli Krónikák is an entirely instrumental album inspired by Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. The music is highly synthesized (Moog and ARP), extremely energetic, with amazing interplay involving lush synths, electric guitar, and flute. Not one member of the band is a standout, but together they achieve some brilliantly constructed symphonic progressive rock where each part plays an enormous role in the overall sound. The melodies are very catchy and I find myself humming them in my head, not just days, but months later. The closest description alluding to other more popular Western bands I can come up with is 1970s Camel on steroids with a skilled flute player (references to Jethro Tull I feel are erroneous, at least for this album).

One of the few masterpieces to come out of the 1980s and an absolute must-have for fans of symphonic progressive rock (especially those that love lush synths). Probably the best 1980s prog rock album, definitely the best from Hungary of all time, and perhaps in the top 20 of all progressive rock albums. Easily five stars and highly recommended.

Report this review (#152805)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars My favourite release by far from this band is "Nostradamus Book Of Prophesies". "The Martian Chronicles" and "Solaris 1990" while both impressively played just don't suit my tastes very well. The classical flavoured sound with the flute leading the way ala JETHRO TULL doesn't grill my cheese. I can see why there are so many high ratings though as these guys really impress with their top notch playing. I always smile when I hear about a concept album that is all instrumental, but they often work if you pay attention to the titles of the songs or read the liner notes.

"The Martian Chronicals" suite is about 23 minutes of music,including Star Wars type sounds, and aliens speaking in Hungarian. Oh my ! Lots of electronics as well as spacey soundscapes. Heavier sections are contrasted with these. "Mars Poetic" opens with a short spacey section that quickly becomes an uptempo melody. "If The Fog Ascends" has some great reserved flute in it. "Apokalypse" is another uptempo track with lots of synths, drums and flute. "Prelude In E Minor" has a folk vibe to it. "Undefeatable" is another uptempo track with pounding drums as flute and guitar come and go. "Solaris" is one of my favs. It's a more laid back, mid-tempo tune. The tempo does pick up 2 1/2 minutes in followed by a blistering guitar solo. It calms back down again with synths and flute. "The Planet Of Orchids" is a return of the aliens. It's an ok song. "The Yellow Circle" features nice warm flute melodies before they are blown away by the guitar and heavy drums that arrive before a minute.This is a good one. It closes with the sounds of someone whistling.

It's so sad that this band had to have all their records approved by the communist government before they would be released. Maybe that's why "Nostradamus Book Of Prophesies" stands out to my ears, because communist rule was over and they could record it the way they wanted to.

Report this review (#159194)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Undoubtfully SOLARIS belong among the best progressive rock bands delivering some awesome music during the 80's.They were formed in 1980 in Budapest by students Robert Erdesz (keys), Attila Kollar (flutes,keys), Istvan Czigman (guitars), Vilmos Toth (drums) and Attila Seres (bass).After winning a third place among 137 bands at a local pop/rock contest,their song ''Solaris'' was published on SP after the competition.SOLARIS kept rehearsing and developing,as Toth was replaced by Ferenc Raus and Seres by Tamas Pocs.Their tough efforts were taped on the LP ''Marsbeli kronikak'' (Martian chronicles) in 1984,based on the eponymous book of Ray Bradbury.

It is really thrilling to find out that a band dared to deliver such a non-commercial album during the 80's.Trully uncomparable,''Marsbeli kronikak'' is an unusual amalgam of grandiose symphonic rock, spacey/electronic prog and flute-driven rock.Imagine ANYONE'S DAUGHTER's or ROUSSEAU's sensitivity and JETHRO TULL's power blended with TANGERINE DREAM's effects and electronics and the spacey feeling of ELOY.The musicianship takes the listener to another dimension,as the raw guitar riffs are battling with Kollar's flutes and the keyboard effects bastardize the melodic lines.Numerous intricate interplays in here will leave you speechless,the melody is also present under the solos of Istvan Czigman,while the synthesizers create pictures from another world.80's were a difficult period for progressive rock,but with bands like this one the spirit went one in a fearless way.Absolutely amazing,epic and grandiose symphonic rock with power,beauty and delicacy at the same time.Highly recommended!

Report this review (#159332)
Posted Sunday, January 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Knowing this is an instrumental album, Martian cackles notwithstanding, one could be forgiven for offering a comparison to Tangerine Dream after listening to track 1, and simply deferring the remainder to another day. But the group presents its own vision much more clearly as the album progresses.

An Eastern European folk undercurrent can be discerned in subsequent melodies that swirl about, and the feel is much more organic than in typical electronic music. For instance Parts II and III allow for short solos followed by bursts of activity, both dominated by keyboards and flute, with able bass and drums backing. Electric guitar is used to add a measure of force but does not detract. Some choral effects are also employed. Always we return to the captivating main theme.

The centerpiece of the album is parts IV to VI, which total 13 minutes and introduce an even stronger theme on flute around which all other developments hinge. Attila Kollar's playing on woodwind interacts with that of guitarist Istvan Czigman who has more prominence in this part of the proceedings, while the spacey synthesizers keep reminding us that this is all about Ray Bradbury. The band knows how to vary the density of the passages to keep the listener entertained over the long haul.

Unfortunately, "Poetic Mars" and "Apocalypse" pretty much rehash the formula and depend too much on synths, but "In the Fog Ascends" is a dressed up flute ballad that showcases the band's versatility. The finale of my CD is the track "Solaris" is a bit too schizophrenic for my tastes, but still contains some fine ideas, especially as expressed by Kollar.

An instrumental album in which the music reflects the subject, "Martian Chronicles" was a fine debut for this Hungarian group so revered by prog fans, but, like many instrumental albums, chronicles a noticeable decline in the late going as the palate becomes overused.

Report this review (#165618)
Posted Thursday, April 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Life on Mars and on Earth

Solaris is a very important band from Hungary because their most famous release, the band's debut from back in 1984, was one of the few important progressive rock releases during the 80's, a decade that became well known among progressive rock fans as the lost decade of prog or as the recession years. This release was so important because it was a very good one (and still a very good album after over 25 years) when progressive rock was enduring hard times, mainly due to no longer being the trendy kind of music.

Although Solaris's debut is an impressive and original progressive rock piece, besides being a completely standalone album, I don't think that it can be considered a masterpiece. That is because the album have only some pieces that are actually mind-blowing, which are the songs Martian Chronicles parts II-III and IV-VI and M'ars Poetica. The remaining eight songs are just very good songs and do not come close, in quality, to the three songs listed previously, showing that the band, though releasing an amazing debut, still needed to grow.

This album also seems to be inspired by the novel 1950 The Martian Chronicles by the american writer Ray Bradbury. Maybe these kinds of novels that did not made any reference to the capitalist lifestyle were accepted by the socialist governments behind the Iron Curtain, but I don't know for sure. The fact is that the novel is named The Martian Chronicles, the album is named Martian Chronicles and the band said that they were influenced by sci-fi.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

Solaris is known for their all instrumental albums with terrific music. However, unlike other progressive rock bands, Solaris's music is not very challenging to be played and does not have any main or soloist instrument. Their music is the final product of a whole band effort at both composing and playing and that makes their songs incredibly balanced, I mean, the songs don't have a pinnacle or a best part, they are good as a whole.

Another interesting characteristic of Solaris's is that their songs have few ideas that are very well worked. I mean, instead of just throwing lots of separate ideas, the band focus on some handful of them and develop them throughout the songs, what makes the songs flow very smoothly. The outcome of such development of their musical ideas is just great, specially in the longer songs.

The highlights go to Martian Chronicles parts II-III and IV-VI and M'ars Poetica.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Although the album have some pretty good qualities and some awesome songs, the final product is not as good as it should be. Some problems would be fixed in their next album, called Nostradamus Book of Prophecies, but, still, here those problems worsen the album. However, it does not get too bad at all, but I still think that the masterpiece grade would be too much, so I will give to this fine album 4 stars then.

Report this review (#186214)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nice album made by this Hungarian band. A nice electronic sintetizer with some spacial noises but very balanced, create a special work very harmonic. The flute and some guitar sounds, give a progressive soul to this album. I like very much the East Progressive and Solaris is a good band. I don't realy apreciate progressive elctronic, but this album is an exception because it isn't comercial, and we find some new sounds when heard more times. They create a good space atmosphere and with quality. We can found some epic parts very powerfull's that give a synphonic context to this work, and other's with a calm and slow balanced sound. To me, Solaris is a goos band with some good musicians and this album is a good adiction in any prog music collection.
Report this review (#240967)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars I suppose that this record earns one star more just because I'm from Central (Eastern by opinion of some) Europe, while Hungary is quite close, had similar political situation here and also the same. We simply understand each other. Back then, our nations were very close, now we could easily be on the other sides of the world, but never mind it, now we're in 80's.

Listenin' (hehe) to these tunes, I feel quite strange. Like hearing melodies that I have known all my life. So, first side would be something like 4.75/5 (with first track being the worst) and second side will get 4.5, because even it's good, it's overshaded by this melody line present in tracks 2 & 3. Marsbeli Kronikak, listening this album fifth time in a row, still looking for something to write, but unsuccessfully. There's a strong flute line, duelling with synthesizers with nice guitar pickpocketing (or tapping). Oh yeah, these songs are instrumental. But the beauty of these Martian landscapes (I love this book) are even better this way.

5(+), wonderful way how to have poesy without words. Just beautiful factor remains.

Report this review (#249047)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Martians and spaceship included.

Oh little album, where have you been all this time? How could you slip between my careful fingers when I was lingering for a new rush of progressive music? Now I got you, and I'm not letting you go.

Boy am I h-a-p-p-y to own this record. Blend Camel, Eloy and Sinkadus together and still you have something 100% original at the time. The flute is really good, and I mean melodic. Not spitten like Jethro Tull or Focus but gentle and serving the melody, not doing a feverish solo. Each song is not following the last one, but every time to have the urge to press the repeat button; they're all good but going in the same direction; which means you have your main ingredients repeating but each song is a beauty. Never bored.

25 years ago, Solaris gave birth to a classic with punch, grace and cosmic factor...without the Marillion syndrome! Since Eloy and the Floyd were out of fuel, in the 80's Solaris gave the listener a great sci-fi time, with Andy Latimer guitar riffs and Clive Nolan keyboards.

Recommended like barbecue ribs in Georgia.

Report this review (#255670)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have two CD's of this original group, both music oriented only, with instrumental outings. This one is older than 'Nostradamus', and you can feel it a little bit. Nevertheless, it is a mix of modern and older styles, and the result is very interesting. The voices of the Martians, in the first track, are something to remember ! Solidly original. It sets the tone for this sci-fi album, and the feeling is transmitted only by the wonderful music. The unity, as on 'Nostradamus', is outstanding : the flute is very present but never too much. It has its beautiful role throughout the whole CD. The presence of the other instruments is made with a high standard of quality, as the guitar and the keyboards are brilliant, importantly linked together, along with the bass/rythmic section. This group contributed as keeping the prog spirit in the 80's, with such beautiful and not so complex compositions. There is nothing super fancy, but the musical themes are well constructed, from one track ot another... By the way, there is no weakness whatsoever here, and this is an extraordinary quality, kind of rare.

I did review 'Nostradamus' recently, which I prefer (among my 5 very best CD's), but this type of symphonic prog music deserves really the best, for its originality and its special contribution. They are unique. I went for a solid 5.0 for the other one, but I still have to put a high notation, such as maybe 4.8... which gives rise to a 'rounded' 5-stars. Really nothing less. Another gem by Solaris. Enjoy !

Report this review (#276515)
Posted Monday, April 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars One of my top 5 albums from the 80's

I always believed that one of the most important aspects in a miusical work is versatility, I'm tired of listening bands that have one sound and all their songs sound as if they were cloning themselves, well SOLARIS is the opposite, but most important, they are not only versatile but also coherent and their music flows perfectly, something that boosts the merit.

Their debut "Marsbéli Krónikák" is a perfect example of what Prog was meant to be, even when they fit more comfortably in Symphonic, the album presents us an incredibly beautiful and fluid mixture of several genres which go from the expected Symphonic, to Folk, Electronic and even Psych Space, but also good old Rock & Roll.

When we listen read the names of Robert Erdesz and Attila Kollar is logical to expect that this virtuoso musicians are the center of the band, and even when their performances are crucial, there's not a weak point in the formation, each and every member gives is best, from the official members, to the guests and even the people recruited to make the wonderful choirs, something not so common in Prog bands where virtuoso musicians are so important.

Despite this fact, it's clear that the keyboards and flute are the visible leaders of a well oiled machine, because the music is clearly Synth oriented and the flute adds that unique touch that became SOLARIS trademark, but I recommend to play special attention to the acoustic guitar passages by "Istvan Czigman" which are absolutely breathtaking and also to the impeccable rhythm section....Well, better play attention to the whole band, because I couldn't find a weak spot.

Being ."Marsbéli Krónikák" (Martian Chronicles) a conceptual album based in the famous "Ray Bradbury novel, I won't dare to make a song by song review, because the album must be heard and discussed in it's integrity, being that only in that way it makes sense.

So, if SOLARIS presents us solid composition, flawless performances, versatility and coherence, is evident that we are before one or close to a masterpiece, but if we also remember that "Marsbéli Krónikák" is without doubt one of the top ten albums of the 80's, there's no other alternative than to rate it with 5 stars.

Report this review (#396417)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A 1980s masterpiece?!! A rare thing, indeed, for the prog world post-punk and amidst the techno revolution. A difficult album to obtain--I'd been trying for over two years since I first read reviews and heard a song of theirs--and I am so glad I did! Though its sound is, obviously, a bit dated, it is full of catchy melodies, fine symphonic and classical constructions, awesome recording/engineering, and very high calibur playing. This album reminds me a lot of a prog masterpiece from some 20 years later: KOTEBEL's "Omphalos"--not just because of the presence of the flute but because of the frequent juxtaposition of jazz elements (soli or constructs) over the predominant classical feel to the music. JEAN-MICHEL JARRE is mentioned though TANGERINE DREAM and VANGELIS would be my suggestions for who the electronic elements most sound like. Every song is melodic, well constructed, and stands well on its own--while offering just enough variations to not get mixed into one lump (e.g. the folkiness of the last song contrasts well with the Electronic elements of the song just before it.) I love how every band member gets a turn reiterating the main theme in the third song "Marsb'li Kr'nik'k IV-VI. - The Martian Chronicles IV-VI." And I love the distinctiveness of the two guitarists. Plus, it's always to hear good old fashioned pre-gated, pre-metal drumming. Awesome album with nary a flaw. I've been playing nothing else for over a week now and am liking it more and more with each listen. EASILY a masterpiece of symphonic progressive music!
Report this review (#401513)
Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Make sure to get a thorough physical and stock up on the Tang before you get pulled into this deep space nebula and its nods to Grainer/Derbyshire, Tangerine Dream, Goblin, and Vangelis circa Cosmos but still with enough hard rock to form an edge. Not exactly Spacerock, Electronic or Symph per se, this is closer to the death knells undoubtedly played between flameout rounds at Carousel for the impatient crowd. Solaris' The Martian Chronicles is absolutely unashamed astro-rock spectacle, and that's pretty cool if derivative and impure.

The nearly vocal-less set is a continuous sprawl of oft-changing but always focused numbers that are both simple and developed, and you don't have to be an electronic rock fan to enjoy it thanks to Istvan Cziglan's fine neoclassical guitars and the well-suited drums of Laszlo Gomor. The title cuts bop the galaxy, Rob Erdesz's concert hall pianos taking up the empty space over the gargling foam of the band's synths. 'Ha felszáll a köd' is when Solaris may begin to remind of anyone from Tull to Eloy to Saga, but this is more an incidental byproduct of the music than direct influence. 'Apokalipszis' is a solid bit o' prog that covers all the bases beautifully with the wailing squeal of hardcore synths and driving rhythms, great heavy metal bluster on 'Solaris' and a return to the black matter of 'Orchideak' with overtones of Goblin and John Carpenter. Nice. I paid ten bucks for this and it was well worth it.

Report this review (#511712)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marsbéli Krónikák is a great, all-instrumental symphonic prog album inspired by Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. It came out against the odds: it was recorded in the eighties in Hungary, which was still a communist country at the time, so it's a miracle an album like this was allowed to be released and made available there.

Solaris often gets compared to Camel. I can catch some similarities, especially from the flute work, although the guitar is much heavier and the keyboard work is pretty much to Robert's own style, with some classical overtones and plenty of mysterious, spacey creations to keep up the mood of the theme. The keys are all analog, but be aware, it's in the early '80s style, rather than '70s, so you won't find tons of Moog, Hammond, Mellotron, etc, with the exception of some Tangerine Dream style synths at the beginning of the album.

The music here has quite an extraoridinary concoction. It kicks off with the side length title track which is divided in to several parts and includes many different themes and great ideas. Parts two to five are particularly spectacular. Part one is also quite charming, starting with some funny sounding voices which are presumably sounds of martians speaking Hungarian. The second half of the album consists of shorter, often heavier pieces, like "M'Ars Poetica", "Apokalypse", and "Undefeatable". Plus the CD reissue contains two bonus cuts, "Orchideák Bolygóya" and "A Sárga Kör", the latter an interesting, highly percussive rock with a strong ethnic beat (in Hungarian style of course!) to it.

As everyone knows, the 1980s was a very prog unfriendly decade, but you won't be disappointed by the technical quality of these artists and their instruments. Well worth getting in your collection.

Report this review (#520181)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The 80's was a tough period for prog and good music in general. But in the middle of this decade comes the symphonic extravaganza of Solaris' The Martian Chronicles. Though rather obscure, the musical merit in this album speaks for itself. These guys play with the same symphonic prowess that Genesis and Yes did before them by flawlessly interweaving flute, synth, and all of the other instruments into an enjoyable mass of melodies.

This album is practically drenched in synth, as was the custom for many albums in the 80's. Some may not find it to their liking, but being one of my favorite instruments it's a welcome addition.

I won't analyze the album on a track by track basis as I believe most of the songs employ the same overall sound and technique as the last. In general, the songs are usually up-tempo with a plethora of interesting melodies played by a variety of instruments. No vocals are present, but in my opinion that just rids of a diversion to the wonderful music.

Perhaps the only flaw with this album is that there aren't any real standout tracks, and there is a slight lack of variety. I will also note it may have not aged well, but that's just a minor point. Overall, this is simply a wonderful 80's prog album and is great addition to any symphonic prog collection.


Report this review (#880135)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars From way down in Eastern Europe comes one of the most atmospheric, enchanting and captivating prog albums ever recorded in the 80's. Solaris album "Marsbeli kronikak" is a mostly intrumental piece of music, with only occasional vocals adding spice.

The opening trio of songs is quite enough to make any prog fan happy. These are truly ambitious and well crafted pieces of music, capturing the essence of the bleak 80's and the apocalyptic, sometimes truly terrifying, threat of nuclear war. The contents of the remaining album are of extremely high quality, making "Marsbeli kronikak" a joy to listen to.

The music could be described as symphonic with hard rock edges. While there are enough keyboards and symphonic soundscapes to make any prog fan insane from pleasure, the guitar provides a great hard rock feel to it, making the music diverse and always interesting. It is a sort of symphonic, space rock close to Eloy (of the 80's) and even some of Hawkwind's contemporary output.

Conclusion: "Marsbeli kronikak" is one of the most prime examples of symphonic prog of the 80's but could well be one of the highlights of all time. It has a retro feel to it, yet the music is firmly rooted in the 1980's. It is a pleasure, a delight and an experience of great worth. Do give it a chance and be amazed at what these guys produced 30 years ago. From the opening, creepy sound of childlike voices to the majestic, pompous sound of keyboard orientated prog, "Marsbeli kronikak" delivers in spades. Gloriuos.

Report this review (#951016)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another priceless gem from the eighties.

1984 was dominated by Metallica with their 'Ride The Lightning', 'Powerslave' by Iron Maiden, Prince, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, Springsteen and Lloyd Cole, among others. Most importantly, from the progressive side, were two works superlative, the fantastic Marillion 's Scripts, and this intense, mature and fluent 'Martian Chronicles'. Little known at the time, and it was becoming an essential work of the decade.

Almost entirely instrumental, high percentages of keyboards, flute significant contributions, as well as guitars. Drums and bass make great cooperation when required. What enhances above all are the great melodies, intelligently interpreted. The sound is good, but not excellent, and is influenced by the era.

Later, Solaris produced some acceptable jobs, like Attila Kollar. However, it would never reach the magnificence of this.

4,5 stars.

Report this review (#1017268)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars SOLARIS is a Hungarian symphonic prog band that just LOOOOVES sci-fi novels. Their name comes from the novel written by Stanisław Lem and the title of their debut album MARSBÉLI KRÓNIKÁK (THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES) comes from the famous book by Ray Bradbury. The music is almost all instrumental save an electronic vocal intro that isn't Martian at all but actually highly weirded out Hungarian. The theme of the album is supposed to highlight the plot of the novel where humans flee a trashed Earth and colonize Mars (OK not as creative as Kobaia but still pretty cool.) The band formed in Budapest in 1980 and went through many lineups before releasing this album. This is a strange album in the world of prog for it virtually has no strange time signatures and its focus is squarely on melodic development that sounds like a strange progressive form of 80s synth pop in a way. Although there are scant Eastern European sounds making their way into the mix I have to say that the sounds of the flute, guitar and keyboards make me think more of an album done by a band of the Andes such as Los Jaivas if they had upped their symphonic sound and made it a bit more aggressive.

Much of this album is highly exciting as track by track the unfolding melodies and dancing rhythms pulsate to simulate the colonizing theme and it works for the most part but for me it's the slow tracks that keep this from being a true masterpiece of all time. Those are the ones that make me think more of Peru or Bolivia than Mars. Mars after all has the connotation of being the alter persona of male aggressiveness and this music can cry out more of a feminine Venus at times. There are also times when this seriously reminds me of new agers like Yanni or Kitaro which also doesn't lend itself to the whole Mars thing. I find myself really enjoying much of this album but the slow parts let me down a bit and I feel a disconnect from the intended theme. On my 1995 CD edition with two bonus tracks it is the second of those "The Yellow Circle" that really feels like it was made for this album. It cranks up the guitar and percussion unlike on any other tracks on this album. Overall I dig this album but I feel it should have a bit more percussive oompf to the whole thing. As i'm writing this review it has been announced that the band is releasing a sequel to THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES which will be released in this here year 2014. I hope it kicks some serious Martian butt!

Report this review (#1291221)
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Solaris - Martian Chronicles (1984)

Released in the age of comminism, with the necessary approval of the Hungarian regime, comes one of the finest progressive rock records of the eighties, Martian Chronicles by Solaris. A combination of spacey electronics, symphonic prog, flute and heavy rock guitar that sounds unique and exciting! Solaris aims for the larger-then-life progsound, bombastic and intense, and succeeds brilliantly! Moreover, all musicians are deeply involved in all the compositions. All tracks are instrumental.The recording sound is great and time doesn't seem to have gotten any grip on it.

On side one the six Martian Chronicles parts form the main attraction of the album, creating an side long epic of melodic space exploration. Sometimes the music reminds me a bit of Camel at its best, but Solaris has a bigger sound and a refreshing lack of Englishness - something one can also find listening to the Polish SBB. Side two is a collection of shorter tracks, some mellow and others spacey and heavy. Overall I must admit I find side one a bit stronger and more connected.

Conclusion. Prog at its best, musicianship at its most intense. Five stars.

PS. Solaris has released 'Martian Chronicles II' in 2014. I'm just listening to it myself and I'm really amazed! It can really use some quality reviews.

Report this review (#1314320)
Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars Solaris' Marsbéli krónikák is a breath of fresh air for Prog in the 80's, together with Bacamarte's Depois do fim, Marco Antônio Araújo's whole discography and Abissi Infiniti's Tunnel.

Solaris is pretty much Camel, if Camel didn't change so much in the 80's and decided to record albums like The Single Factor and Stationary Traveller. The only difference really are the heavier guitars.

All in all the whole album is really solid, great flute parts, heavy guitars that Rock, keyboards that are not all that dated (for the 80's that is) and very good drumming. The production is tight, tries to go forward but doesn't bury all the sound in the terrible production of mid 80's.

My only pick with the album is that it is all instrumental. If that's not a problem for you go for it and be happy cause the album gives you that, as for me i's a bit hard to enjoy all instrumental Prog.

Anyway, great first album of this HUngarian band.

Report this review (#1557094)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Symphonic synthetic space rock chronicles

4.5 stars

Contrarily to other countries, progressive rock was still very popular during the 80's in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, after OMEGA during the former decade, its best representative was undoubtedly the cult band SOLARIS. Very first opus by talented multi-instrumentalists, these "Martian Chronicles" - inspired by science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury's well-known novels - are just a genuine sonic adventure.

Almost entirely instrumental, the music is an epic space progressive symphony, with multiple themes, rhythms and instruments, always changing and evolving, unpredictable but fluent and highly melodic. The titles are a colorful mixture of symphonic hard rock of CAMEL, ELOY, SAGA with lyrical progressive electronic such as VANGELIS and NEURONIUM, as well as some neo-prog synthesizers. Although not as complex as YES or GENESIS, the compositions offer different ambiances supported by rich and varied sonorities, the surprise factor being constantly present on each title. That way, the disc succeeds at maintaining the listener's attention as well as a high standard of musicality.

The first side features the 23 minutes "Martian Chronicles" suite, divided in three tracks. Part I opens with a few lines spoken in Hungarian through an alien sound filter, to unveil spacey synthesizers and a fast trippy electronic sequence. The cosmic trip is just beginning, somewhere between NEURONIUM and VANGELIS' "Albedo 0.39". Nice! Parts II-III display numerous genres, such as symphonic, hard rock, and even neo-prog, using a wide range of instruments: keyboards, guitar but also piano, choirs and futuristic sound effects. The music alternates powerful and touching melodies, reminding CAMEL at times. Parts IV-VI are my favorites. This SAGA- esque retro sci-fi musical tale is stellar with its crying guitars, calm passage and celestial final choirs. Simply epic!

The second side gathers short titles, still overall very good. "M'ars poetica" is surprising, playful and energetic. Some heroic moments sounds even possess a distant classical music vibe. On the contrary, "If the Fog Ascends" is the only average track of the record. A bit soapy, but its mysterious interlude is rather enjoyable. The epic space hard rock "Apocalypse" transports us through the universe... until the short "Prelude in E Minor" brings us back to the time of strongholds and chivalry with a medieval flute! Pleasant, however quite out of place. Heaviest composition of the disc, "Undefeatable" is a powerful synth space metal piece! Wow! The album concludes with the band's first single, "Solaris", recorded a few years earlier and already containing multiple sections despite its 5 minutes duration. The nice calm Floyd/Camel-esque melancholic overture abruptly changes and progressively accelerates into a sonic supernova! The Hungarians were already promising back then!

The 1995 and 2010 reissues feature two bonus tracks, enjoyable although less impacting than those of the original release. The synthetic "The Planet of Orchids" is more ambient, interrogative, while "The Yellow Circle" evokes the discovery of a new planet... to then surprisingly turn rock 'n 'roll, with tribal percussions and vocalizations! Fun and refreshing.

Except ELOY, there are not many symphonic space prog albums really worth the listen in the 80's. "Martian Chronicles" is definitely an exception, a meteorite, a refreshing unexpected surprise in this desolated decade. The music uses known recipes to weave its own charm and identity. The band members have a natural ease and high ability to switch between instruments and ambiances while mixing various styles, making the compositions unpredictable. Therefore, the surprise factor of this sonic and lyrical symphony is renewed at each listen.

SOLARIS' first opus is a genuine breathtaking and stellar journey, a real pity this wasn't released outside Hungary in 1984. Simply essential for space rock and symphonic prog lovers!

Report this review (#1699000)
Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 | Review Permalink

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