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Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is the debut record from EAST a Hungarian band who sing in their own language. I was very impressed with their second album "Huseg" where I think they made some improvements over this one.

"Overture" is an instrumental that is dominated by some excellent drumming and synth work. The sound of seagulls and waves at the end of the song is always a good thing with me. "Far Away With Clouds" is a beautiful song especially the synths and vocals.This is followed by a 90 second guitar solo.The song then completely changes as synths and guitars exchange solos to the end of the track. "Fly Up Now" is a good song that is pastoral at times with piano. "Blue-Black Vision" is all over the map. Including a thunder storm of all things !

"Diamond Bird" is a dreamy, laid back song wth mellow vocals.The vocals do get a little aggressive after 3 minutes. "Breath" is a very spacey, atmospheric instrumental.There really isn't a melody in this one as we hear mostly various synth sounds. "Look at Me" has a good beat as well as another extended guitar solo. Nice. "Message" gets a little heavy late but prior to that there is not a lot going on. "Epilogue" has organ throughout and the vocals are almost spoken."Expectation" is another favourite of mine on this record. Some great guitar and a good beat drives this song along.

This is a good album that most prefer over the follow up "Huseg". For me it's the opposite but you would do well to find that out for yourselves. Good band.

Report this review (#123276)
Posted Thursday, May 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A few weeks ago my dear friend Zsolt Enyedi, keyboardist from the excellent band "Yesyterdays" sent me a whole bunch of albums from Hungarian and Romanian bands, including "Játekók" by EAST.

Lately I've been interested in post "fall of the Berlin wall" Eastern Europe bands because of the excellent blend between Prog and their ethnic roots, but it's interesting to listen what the pioneers of this part of the world were doing back in the 80's.

The first thing that surprised me is that due to the year of formation and how are they catalogued, I was expecting some sort of Neo Prog, but I forgot that musical eras didn't reached the whole world at the same time, much less in countries were artistic expressions as Rock didn't exactly received support from the state.

Instead of Neo I found a blend of various styles, from Symphonic, to Electronic, passing by Hard Rock, very interesting fusion coming from Hungary in 1981.

The album starts with "Nyitány ~ Overture" which begins with a very pompous and even martial percussion oriented intro and then out of nowhere a very fast keyboard changes the mood to some sort of light Symphonic with Hard Prog echoes, seems as if the band had horror to silence, because every second on the track is filled with sounds, no time to rest.

"Messze a Felhőkkel ~ Far Away with the Clouds" is a different song, very melodic, much more simpler, I would dare to say with some TOTO influences, but then we find a radical change, the band starts to really rock, they add lush keyboards and distorted guitars, maybe they abuse a bit of this "Heavy" sound but sill a good track.

"Szállj Most Fel ~ Fly up now" starts as an Aorish track sung in Hungarian, again the TOTO influence can be heard clearly, predictable and a bit boring, not worth of further comment.

"Kék-Fekete Látomás ~ Blue-Black Vision" starts very electronic oriented, reminding me of Vangelis Albedo 0.39, spacey keyboards as expected but with a jazzy guitar a la Mc'Laughlin and then.a sudden change takes us into a different territory, this time closer to Pink Floyd but with melodic vocals in Hungarian, very interesting track.

"Gyémántmadár ~ Diamond Bird" takes us again into electronic territory, soft keyboards, spacey sound effects a dreamy bass in the background, don't expect many changes, flows gently from start to the middle where the whole band attacks with everything they have in a clearly PINK FLOYD inspired style, not my cup of tea, but must recognize this guys know their business.

"Lélegzet ~ Breath" is another song that abuses of sound effects and spacey noises, seems like a filler, so lets jump to "Nézz rám ~ Look at Me" which starts more promising, faster and more elaborate, but soon falls in the predictability that seems the heaviest burden EAST carries, I believe they have good ideas but have problems developing them, not even the good guitar and bass duet is enough to rise the song from a less than average level.

"Üzenet ~ Message" wakes me from my daydreaming with it's pompous and strong introduction that leads to a vocal passage, this time at least we have some radical changes that help to maintain the interest, despite this, another predictable song.

A Baroque Hammond intro? Yes, it's "Epilóg ~ Epilogue", at last a healthy change that captures my interest immediately, it's evident that Géza Pálvólgyi has a solid keyboard formation, sober and pompous creates suspense while the organ solo keeps increasing in intensity and morphs into the closer "Remény ~ Expectation" another electronic oriented track, but this time more dynamic and versatile than the previous, the band at last (a bit late) let themselves go and hit us with everything they have, very sttrong finale.

Now the big problem. How to rate Játékok? Not remotely a masterpiece, not even close to essential, but the guys know what they are doing, being that is clear that this release is over the average, so I will give three stars to the album that could maybe be 3.5.

Will try with their later albums to see if my opinion changes, it would be unfair to qualify a band by their debut exclusively.

Report this review (#181144)
Posted Saturday, August 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another nice entry in the list of good East-European prog rock bands,EAST were a band from Hungary,who were formed in mid-70's in Szeged and led by charismatic guitarist Janos Varga (later he pursued a personal career).However the band should have to wait 5 to 6 years before releasing their debut.This would come in 1981 under the title ''Jatekok'' (translated into ''Games''), certainly in a harsh time to produce sophisticated rock music.

Though some of the bass lines and keyboard parts will remind you of MARILLION,these guys achieved to release two albums before MARILLION release even one.The style of the music lies somewhere between symphonic melodic rock and space rock with heavy use of electronic samplers.Yes,the two first tracks are very close to MARILLION,but as the album unfolds the band deliver a very personal style of prog rock.Part of the guitar work will remind you of ALEX LIFESON's style in late-70's/early-80's RUSH,a few rockin' passages pop out here and there,some fusion elements are added for a change and the electronic parts create some great soundscapes for the listener.This is a very challenging mix of sounds by a band with a rather dark-sounding atmosphere,far from the pleasant style of acts like JADIS or PENDRAGON.EAST deserve your attention,for they carried the torch of art/prog rock at a time when experimentation was more than forbidden for a band's survival.Recommended!

Report this review (#184683)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nice album of this Hungarian Band. A fine Progressive style with keiboards and very nice guitar arrangements. Lot's of spacey parts that made a very good instrumental context. A good band of East Europe when we can find a litle of Pink Floyd and a litle of Camel. The drummer is in a classic neo-prog vein, with a nice intricate part's. The vocal parts are very nice but is in Hungarian and we do not understand the message of lyrics but they are very harmonic in this prog style. I think that this album and specialy, the 3 first albuns of this band, are a very good adiction of a Progressive collector, specialy a East Europe band in Iron Courtain time, because rock is prohibited. Very good musicians in a hostile environment, that6 create a very nice album that we must to hear with care, valuing the context in which it was create. I like this album and this band and I give 4 stars because the arrangements and the high quality of the musicians, they are worthy. A good album for the East Eorope Prog Fans.
Report this review (#214122)
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut album from this Hungarian entry into Prog World, the band displays a style of music that feels quite compatible with some of the film soundtracks being commissioned of other artists of the European prog electronic and jazz-rock fusion scenes.

1. "Nyitány ~ Overture" (3:25) opens with fading in drums (sounding like the intro to "The Court of the Crimson King") before band enters with two separate progressions of synth chords accompanied by a "Run Like Hell" bass line. Synth solos melodically, repeating itself and its melody, over the next few rounds of the two separate chord progressions before being joined by a second synth before sea sounds and seagulls bridge to the next song. Kind of ELOY-ish. (8.5/10)

2. "Messze a felhőkkel ~ Far away with the clouds" (5:43) synth-based song with straight time drums and excellent fretless bass work back a pleasant vocal. I like the use of little instrumental bridges between each verse of the vocals. Nice electric guitar lead in the third and fourth minutes--kind of a cross between David Gilmour and Ray Gomez--ending just before the 4:00 mark when the music takes a radical left turn into Euro-disco electronica--a bit like TANGERINE DREAM at first, then as the two soloists--synth and electric guitar--start duelling it sounds more like JAN HAMMER and DARYL STUERMER. (9/10)

3. "Szállj most fel ~ Fly up now" (5:30) opens like a more recent BLUE ÖYSTER CULT song before backing down for some spacious time keeping from the drummer. Piano chord progressioin establishes a bare bones key for the vocalist to enter and sing over. at the 1:30 mark there is a shift as the rest of the band joins in for the vocal chorus. Interesting reversion to the BÖC motif for the extended space between verses. The chorus sections are definitely the best part of the song--though it is quite an interesting song if only for its unusualness. Cool laid back yet- emotional instrumental section with spacious piano solo, background vocalese, and bird-like synth solo. (9/10)

4. "Kék-fekete látomás ~ Blue-black vision" (2:16) opens with what sounds like a Berlin School sequence with which intermittent bass notes, synth flourishes, and disco-like cymbals play. Like soundtrack filler until a fiery electric guitar riff is thrown in near the end. Weird and yet kind of cool. (4.25/5)

5. "Gyémántmadár ~ Diamond bird" (4:00) opens with flanged electric guitar arpeggi as scaled down weave mixes in from other band members. Singing uses long drawn out notes to fit within the weave before lead synth steps in for the vocals. Sounds like DEMETRIO STRATOS singing--as a matter of fact, this could be an AREA song! (9/10)

6. "Lélegzet ~ Breath" (3:10) TONY BANKS "Fly on a Windshield"-like "vocal" synth over low keyboard bass note opens this song. Guitar arpeggi and fast synth riffs flit in and out of the spacious soundscape as fretless bass solos slowly in an almost EBERHARD WEBER way. This atmospheric song is obviously another cinematic interlude filler as was #4 "Kék-fekete látomás," bleeding directly into the next song. (4.5/5)

7. "Nézz rám ~ Look at me" (4:08) multiple synth washes, driving bass line with atmospheric muted electric guitar chords thrown in as Miklós sings in an ELOY kind of way. Nice flashy guitar solo in the third minute. There is also a bit of a Euro-pop sound and feel to this one--and it still feels cinematic like its prelude. (8.75/10)

8. "Üzenet ~ Message" (4:18) floating synth note with bass piano chords and bass and drum hits open this one before the music settles into a smoother pace as the singing joins in. At the 1:20 mark there is a deeper and more complex bridge before we return to the second verse. Continually rising synth in the sky accompanies singing for this one. Cool effect! The second time through the heavy "bridge" Miklós sings, in a much more powerful, DEMETRIO STRATOS way till the song finishes. (9/10)

9. "Epilóg ~ Epilogue" (2:28) an organ recapitulation of some of the chords and themes of the previous song before Miklós and Richard Wright-like synth sing over the organ. Again, cinematic storytelling is the feeling that I come away with from listening to this--GOBLIN-like. (4.25/5)

10. "Remény ~ Expectation" (4:33) speaking of GOBLIN, this instrumental song really does have that ominuous Euro- cinema feel to it as deep chords are alternated with spacious pauses while bass and drums plug away. Electric guitar begins to solo aggressively in the second minute and only proceeds to light it up as it plays. At the 2:30 mark the guitar stops and the syncopated chord progression from the opening takes over on its own. Then there is an unexpected turn of the corner as the song turns left, moving into a majestic chord sequence before ending with a distant-sounding synth and cymbal outro. Very interesting. (8.75/10)

Total Time: 39:31

While EAST's followup album, Hüség sounds and feels as if the band has integrated a variety of elements from other European prog rock bands, this album, to my ears, sounds more like a KLAUS SCHULZE-, ELOY-, and GOBLIN- influenced Euro-rock album. The second half (Side Two) is especially reminiscent of the cinematic music created by Italian jazz-rock fusion artists GOBLIN. While it's good, and I like it, this album is not as mature or sophisticated as Hüség.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of cinematic Euro-progressive rock music.

Report this review (#2308269)
Posted Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | Review Permalink

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