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Dezo Ursiny - Dezo Ursiny & Ivan Strpka: Nové Mapy Ticha CD (album) cover


Dezo Ursiny

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Ursiny´s third album proves he is a distinctive prog artist. He emrges various styles together (symphonic prog, jazz rock, funky passages and even plays a few lighter pop tunes in between the more commplicated compositions) and it all sounds just like himself. By now, he also has developed his guitarplaying. He plays rather minimalistically, just a few solos on the record. His licks are "lazy" with a long, sustained tone, usually very atmospheric and he places them all perfectly. Also, one can note his love for saxophones, as the guest, Dušan Húščava is quite prominent in several tracks. Also Ursiny´s songs aremore complex and shorter (even more so on the three albums.

Nové mapy ticha 4 Interestingly, the tile track serving as the opener. It begins with a nice, funky grove by the band (great drumming), with nice vocal delivery from Ursiny. An instrumental passage follows Jaroslav Filip´s keyboards and synthetizers are very prominent. He gets a solo. After that the song calms down and the keyboards become more atmospheric, working perfectly with Ursiny´s ringing vocals. A na to myslím 3.5 A much jazzier track. Ursiny´s singing is monotonous on this one,as is the opening melody, with the brightest moment beeing a symphonic part with a guest performance from Marián Varga (of Collegium Musicum). soogreat jazzy solo,augmented by strong playing from marián Varga on organ, before the opening part comes again. Na malej stanici 5 Another funky groove in the beginning (great drumming again by Hlinenský). Soon the track slows down, and becomes more atmospheric, with a great organ passage by Marián Varga, who plays n perfect coherenece with Ursiny´s vocals. A relaxed, slower passage comes in, with grat vocals from Ursiny, before a darker section follows, driven by the piano and a marvelous guitar riff by Ursiny. A saxophone solo comes, enhancing the mysterious atmosphere, before the song returns to the relaxed atmosphere and then to the funky, fast part, before the darker passage comes in, with Ursiny´s fine understated solo fading out. Dnes v noci 5 A marvelous, faster pop song, with strong performance by Filip on keyboards and marvelous vocals from Ursiny. The melody is just as good, and Ursiny plays a great solo as well, followed after the sung part by Filip´s. Víťaz 1 A short, poppy song, with a rather weak melody. Ursiny´s vocal delivery is pretty boring on this one as well. Zelené jablko 5 After an atmospheric opening with a flute solo, the track gets in a funky groove (once again), this time with prominent saxophone playing, after which a lyrical, softer passage follows, with another guest appearance by Marián Varga and the flute playing the opening motif again. The funkier part then concludes the track. Domestic flight 5 The longest, and most atmospheric number on the album. Very dark in places, with a marvelous mystique atmosphere. Arguably Ursiny´s best vocal performance on the record.The tracks moves effortlessly from the dark passage through another one, slightly fasterpart to the fastest, mos rocking one, where Ursiny´s voice culminates and he pulls off a great guitar solo.The whole structure then repeats again. In the second fast section, the song contains another guitar solo, duelling wih Filip on keyboards. At the end of the number, after the slow passage, the dark riff that was played in background in one part of the track, gets to the forefront played by a violin and guitar. Hádanka 5 A relaxed, lovely acoustic number (with guest appearance from Peter Smolinský on acoustic guitar. with a gorgeous melody,and lyrical mood. A fine album closer.

Overall rating: 4 STARS


Report this review (#131407)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Nove mapy ticha" opens up with a disco groove, something dreaded for prog rock fans, but many prog rock bands began to take in influences from popular music in the late 70s, listen to Pink Floyd's album "The Wall" for example. The song as a whole doesn't have much to do with disco however, with a good rhodes fusion workout and some nice synth work by guest Marian Varga. "A na to myslim" is a contrastingly slow and jazzy song, with beautiful musical "landscapes" coming from various synths and piano. The "exposition" of the song is based on a funky clavinet riff, as was common Ursiny's musical form. "Na Malej Stanici" is the first epic of the album, reaching almost 10 minutes. It moves through several moods, but mostly it is in the slow atmospheric mode, with some beautiful melodic themes. The next tune is very poppy but with great songwriting craft. "Zelene jablko" is a groove based song with a saxophone riff similar to Canterbury bands, but with a decidedly more serious tone. Finally we reach the jewel of this album "Domestic Flight", why it has an English title, I don't know. In its 10+ minute duration it moves through marvelous melodic sections, and a good fusion based groove right in the middle. At the end the main theme played on harpsichord is now doubled by strings, rising in key with each repetition. Truly a beautiful song. The album closer is very unexpected being a simple acoustic folk tune, and as far as I could tell the rest of the album had not even a trace of acoustic guitar! Very pleasant tune to listen to.

We can see here great evolution from previous albums in terms of composition, as Ursiny had begun to develop a more streamlined and mature approach to songwriting, which also inevitably meant that he started to move away from the prog rock aesthetic and closer to his own creative vision. But there is much on this album for the discerning prog rock fans!

Report this review (#131433)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Dezo Ursiny, arguably one of the most influential artists and geniouses coming from behind the 'iron curtain', in duo with poet Strpko, have created a jewel on this album. Similar to "Modry Vrch" and "Pevnina Detstva", it is a very moody music, inclined to more jazz than rock. I have a little problem to clasisify his music as progressive but it is very original, nonetheless, and therefore from that prospective we may look at it as prog music. For the listeners who do not understand the language, it may sound as unemotional piece of music, sometimes sounding monotone like, with mechanical playing of all the players in the band. However; Ursiny's singing, intonation and a special phrasing of his personal rhytm changes the entire prospective here, especialy when one understands the lyrics - among the most haunting and beautiful poetry I have had chance to hear or read ever, period. Clearly, there is a great chemistry between the musician and the poet and it all translates into a very special atmosphere that is created on almost every album. Although I have no clear favorites on any album, on this one, the mirror-symetrical built composition 'Na Malej Stanici' (At a Little Train Station') has clearly the edge as the most important title on the album, perhaps symbolizing best what this great musician was all about. Philosophically very usual theme, yet so originaly expressed that you can't but get goosebumps every time you listen to it. The melody is crystal clear, it's sweeteness enwrapping you entirely like a pleasant cacoon.

Most of the compositions look a sort of dark mode when listening to them, only to realize that the lyrics are uplifting, noticing the beauty around us in every little thing - just make a choice. Very strange combination, indeed; yet in Ursiny's interpretation it all comes alive somehow. Even the name of the band, Burciak (young wine) symbolizes the idea that by age, when everything settles down, it all will get just least that's how I look at it.

Unfortunatelly, this (and all others) record is not a material to listen to for anyone who is not familiar with the culture or a language. Nothing surprising performance wise, rather a sterile sound with seemingly no emotion, yet very exact and professional. No one rises above the solid professional level of jazz -fusion like performance.

It all has to be listened to as a package; you just can't isolate the music and try to take something from it. Even the English version of one of Ursiny records that I own just does not do it for me; it loses all the electricity to it. All the energy that otherwise flows from the slovak performance just simply disappears. To me, it is an exceptional record, indeed. My personal rating is high five, thanks to the emotional uplift it always provides me with. However, the inaccessability of this music to other than a slavic culture deems it to stay just a local phenomenon forever.

2.5 stars

God Rest Your Soul, Dezo. I've always loved you.

Report this review (#132979)
Posted Monday, August 13, 2007 | Review Permalink

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