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PANTA RHEI

Symphonic Prog • Hungary


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Panta Rhei biography
PANTA RHEI played in Hungary, from 1974 to 1982, in various styles, from jazz to progressive rock. They also designed and built their own synthesizers. Later they continued recording as P.R.Computer. PANTA RHEI were well known in Hungary for their classical adaptations (in particular from BELA BARTOK and EDWARD GRIEG) and their instrumental compositions. Their music was heavily influenced by ELP, NICE, KING CRIMSON, etc.
The band recorded 2 LPs, and about 6 singles, and numerous pieces for film and ballet. Their LPs sold over 100,000 copies in Hungary and Eastern Europe. A CD of some of the previously unpublished music was released in 1998. In 2002 a book about the band was published, accompanied by a CD with a collection of songs recorded between 1975-79. Their Bartok recordings were never released, due to objections by the Bartok family.
(Story from the Panta Rhei website)

Panta Rhei released several CD's on which we can find song from their different albums. In 1997 they released the comprehensive compilation entitled "Epilogus" featuring 18 tracks (recommended), a year later under the same title a complitation featuring only 11 tracks!

Their music is a pleasant keyboard driven blend of electronic, classic, synthi-pop and symphonic rock featuring fat synthesizer sounds.


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PANTA RHEI discography


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PANTA RHEI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.47 | 11 ratings
Bartok
1977
2.13 | 4 ratings
Panta Rhei
1980
3.09 | 4 ratings
P.R. Computer
1983

PANTA RHEI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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PANTA RHEI Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.44 | 4 ratings
Misc Recordings (1975-79)
1979
3.41 | 7 ratings
Epilógus
1997
2.22 | 4 ratings
Panta Rhei 75-79 (2002)
2002

PANTA RHEI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

PANTA RHEI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bartok by PANTA RHEI album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Bartok
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A Progressive/Classical Rock band from Debrecen, Hungary, formed by keyboardist Kalman Matolcsy, bassist Andras Szalay, guitarist Alex Szalay and drummer Csaba Beke in 1974.Among the first attempts the group tried to adapt Classical pieces belonging to Hungarian composer Bela Bartok after recruiting vocalist Eniko Acs.These however would never see the light due to the denial of the Bartok family and they are only available as a free digital download from the band's website.

Chronologically based around 76'-77', this is one of the closest things you can hear to E.L.P. or COLLEGIUM MUSICUM, featuring three live recordings and three studio tracks, on one of them (''Ostinato'') the drums are performed by Miklos Kiss.Half an hour of bombastic EMERSON-ian organ orgasms and some synthesizer beats here and there, especially on the long ''Dance suite'', which however is the weakest track of all, filled with long narrative parts and flat grooves.The shorter tunes are more interesting, rich-sounding and powerful with strong Classical melodies, dramatic bass lines and virtuosic synth solos among the never-ending organ textures.There are also minor guitar solos and riffs among the keyboard runs but these are too few to change the whole E.L.P.-like atmosphere.

While ''Bartok'' is definitely noy among the best Classical-Rock adaptions I've heard, these recordings show a band with potential, that did not make it into the prog scene at the time.Feel free to taste these recordings by yourself in the band's website.

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 Bartok by PANTA RHEI album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Bartok
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Joăo Paulo

5 stars A big music moment similar to the best of Emerson Lake and Collegium Musicum. A rare album when the keiboards, (Hammond) give a singular moments of good music. The record material was not good but this is an albun that the music quality is superior and I like listen and apreciate de musicians work and not the quality of sound. The bass and keiboards give us a special moments of the good progressive scene in Hungarian in seventies, and we can´t never forget that rock music was made in obscure moments behind the iron curtain. If Collegium Musicum are one of my favourites bands, Bartok are one of my favourite discovery in last days. This is a masterpiece of course because if the sound are nothing special, the music is excellent. 5 stars

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 Bartok by PANTA RHEI album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Bartok
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This defunct Hungarian band (not to be confused with the German Jazz ensemble Panta Rhei, or the Swedish space rockers Panta Rei) might be better known today, if only:

A) They had chosen a more singular name...

B) They had played somewhere else besides the cultural backwater of mid '70s Budapest...and

C) They didn't swap musical hats with such alarming frequency. Even worse, each new incarnation sounded like an entirely different group: first a bouncy Magyar pop band; then an ELP-style classical rock clone; then a Jazz-Rock Fusion combo, and finally a strictly synthesized electro-pop outfit a la JEAN MICHEL JARRE.

All ancient history of course, and no one outside Eastern Europe would even remember them today if so much of the band's music wasn't available for complimentary downloading (follow the link here at the Prog Archives Panta Rhei page to their web site). Several album's worth of material is now only a mouse-click away, including this somewhat tarnished treasure: a symphonic rock arrangement of music by fellow Hungarian Béla Bartók, recorded during the band's most overtly ELP-influenced era, circa 1976.

The LP itself was never released; apparently no one thought to secure the rights from the Bartók estate beforehand. In truth the music was secondhand Bartók by way of Keith Emerson, a debt they all but acknowledge in their rendition here of "Allegro Barbaro", actually a note-perfect cover of the early ELP version better known as "The Barbarian" (drummer Csaba Beke even duplicates all of Carl Palmer's drum fills, verbatim).

The entire album is an ELP throwback, right down to the feisty Hammond organ runs and Moog synthesizer solos. It's actually more an EP than a legitimate album: six songs, half of them performed live (with the audience edited out), totaling just over 31-minutes. But there's plenty of other free music on their web site to make up the slack, including an abbreviated but entirely credible copy of ELP's "Tarkus" (the "Welcome Back My Friends..." live version), and a lavish 22+ minute re-staging of Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite", maybe the highlight of the band's entire schizophrenic career, and one of those vulgar but irresistible epics on which any Prog Rock wannabe would feel proud to stake his reputation.

Panta Rhei may have been consistently one step behind the musical trendsetters of their time, but it's a pity they never had a chance to enjoy wider public exposure. Is it too late now to say better late than never?

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 Panta Rhei 75-79 (2002) by PANTA RHEI album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2002
2.22 | 4 ratings

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Panta Rhei 75-79 (2002)
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Continental

Confusingly, this album contains different track to those which appeared on the band's similarly titled " Misc Recordings (1975- 79)" compilation released in 1979. There is one duplication of the track "Mandarin" but this is essentially a completely different set of unreleased material by Panta Rhei. The album was included in a biographical book about the band.

There are 14 tracks in total here, the longest being just 4 minutes, with many of the tracks being recorded as potential or actual singles. The female singer Eniko Acs appears on a number of these songs, including the opening "Oryganyo" and "Csendes Dal" giving the tracks a very light continental feel, and a holiday type atmosphere.

The early tracks are thus very different once again to the official albums by the band, and to other unreleased material subsequently made available. There is nothing here like the magnificent interpretation of the "Peer gynt suite" on "Epilogus", the synthesiser fest of "PR Computer", the ELP cloning of "Bartok", or the Italian prog of the band's self titled album. The diversity of styles adopted by the band throughout their career can be as disconcerting as it is admirable, especially when it veers into unabashed pop territories like it does here. Things actually dip to an astonishing low on "Pogacsalany", a brief romp through the sort of song you'd expect to hear on a European pop show.

Things do improve as the album progresses, the female and male lead vocals on the ballad " Nem Hiszem el" at least being palatable. The version of "Mandarin" here is different to that on "Epilogus", but it remains a decent synth instrumental, sounding all the better in light of what has gone before. This track signals a change of style on the album, with succeeding tracks remaining instrumental, while moving in a generally more ambient, sometimes fusion direction. " Elvarazsolt Erdo" features a pleasing synth like flute sound, while "Jegvirag" sounds very like the type of music which fills the less distinguished albums released by Rick Wakeman. "Alfa Centauri" (sic) finally features the ELP style which dominated the "Bartok" album, the Hammond organ making a welcome appearance.

"Tarsak Kozott" starts off as the most promising track on the album, with acoustic guitar and dynamic synths, but the mood is quickly destroyed by the arrival of vocals which are distinctly lacking in harmony. It is a pity, as the track features some fine keyboard playing and the best lead guitar of the album.

Given that this collection of tracks was not originally intended to be brought together as an album, it is forgivable that there should be an inconsistent and disjointed feel overall. The trick here is to pick out the tracks which appeal, and skip quickly by those which do not. Generally speaking, that will mean heading for the latter part of the album.

Footnote added August 2010. My review was based on the version of the album then available for download via the band's website. I understand that the CD/book version includes the fine "Peer gynt suite" interpretation mentioned above.

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 Misc Recordings (1975-79) by PANTA RHEI album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1979
2.44 | 4 ratings

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Misc Recordings (1975-79)
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Expect the unexpected

This album is different to the collection released in 2002 under a similar title. Here we have nine tracks, some of which are reasonably long, which for one reason or another were excluded from official albums.

The opening "Dies Irae" starts off sounding like an exact cover of Pink Floyd's "On the run" but quickly changes into a more orthodox female vocal led song with a plodding beat. It is one of five tracks (the first five) here which were recorded for the film projects of director Gabor Body. The following "Napkitores" came about in the same way, but the track sound much more like soundtrack music, with atmospheric noises and vocalising. Midway, the piece changes completely becoming an improvisation on synthesiser.

The light but enjoyable "Mandarin" is a different version here to the one on the 2002 collection. "Grand canyon" sees the band moving further towards fusion, with a funky wah-wah guitar led improvisation. It sounds a bit like a mid-80's American cop show theme. "Tropusi laz" is also rooted in jazz, the brass like synth introduction leading to a saxophone sound (also played on synthesiser).

The final four tracks are shorter less interesting pieces. They are largely forgettable keyboards led interludes with little to distinguish them. "Jossz-e mar" and " Sok az onbizalom " are the only other tracks (apart from track one) on the album to feature vocals, the female voice making for a pleasant diversion.

It is fair to say with Panta Rhei that you should expect the unexpected. Every album, be it an official release or a compilation of outtakes and unreleased material, is radically different to any other by them. This time we have a jazz/fusion based outing, which may not rattle my cage too loudly, but should appeal to those of that persuasion.

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 Epilógus by PANTA RHEI album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
3.41 | 7 ratings

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Epilógus
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Peer-less

"Epilogus", while technically a compilation, is one of the most interesting releases by Panta Rhei. The album consists of a mixture of unreleased material, and a selection of tracks from the band's second album "PR computer".

The feature track here is a 22 minute interpretation of Grieg's " Peer Gynt Suite" recorded in 1976. The piece, which features the voices of Bartok Choir of the Eotvos University; opens with the most familiar part of the suite, "Morning", with the main theme being vocalised by the choir. The vocalising continues intermittently throughout the track, supported by atmospheric keyboards. Kalman Matolcsy adds some improvised keyboards including synthesised strings and Wakeman like synth runs as the piece develops well beyond Grieg's original work. About a third of the way through, the familiar strains of "Hall of the mountain king" (as used by Rick Wakeman on "Journey to the centre of the earth") can be heard, the section developing to a frantic crescendo before the drums pull the synths back for an encore. This really is a quite remarkable piece which has been criminally hidden away for too long. The band show a confidence and proficiency here which, had they exploited it, could have taken them to lofty heights.

Seven of the tracks are lifted straight from the band's second album "PR computer". These are all short synthesiser dominated pieces reminiscent of the likes of Vangelis, Wakeman and Jarre. While they are enjoyable, they are rather lightweight and pop based, with little lasting appeal.

The remaining 10 tracks are previously unreleased recordings made by the band between 1984 and 1987. The line up on these tracks is the trio which recorded "PR computer", and is thus devoid of drums or vocals. Tracks such as "Tropical fever" and "Grand Canyon" reflect the jazz side of the band's influences more than anything on their two official albums had done, the synthesiser being decidedly funky at times. Most of the other unreleased tracks here could have been included on the "PR computer" album, as they are similar to the synthesiser dominated pop which appeared there. As such, they are pleasant in a Jean Michel Jarre sort of way, without ever really offering anything substantial. The best of the bunch is "Avalanche", a sub-3 minute run through some commercial but alluring synth.

In all, "Epilogus" is an album dominated by one inspired, unique, and essential piece. The reminder unfortunately comes across as something akin to filler in comparison; which is admittedly unfair, but a conclusion most listeners will be likely to reach.

This album may still be available for free download via the band's official website. If it is, I would recommend it as the "Peer Gynt suite" alone is essential listening.

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 P.R. Computer   by PANTA RHEI album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.09 | 4 ratings

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P.R. Computer
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars OK PR Computer

Released 3 years after their official debut, "PR computer" was Panta Rhei's second album. By now the band were actually using the name PR Computer (long before Radiohead similar album title!) instead of Panta Rhei, and had thinned down to the just the core members (Kalman Matolcsy on keyboards, Andras Szalay on bass and Alex Szalay on guitar). There is therefore no drummer or vocalist on the album, the main focus of which is a synthesiser built by the band themselves. The synthesiser is used to provided the synthetic percussion throughout.

The result is an album which is completely different to the band's first release. While it has slightly more in common with their unreleased recordings which later became the "Bartok" album, comparisons with the works of Vangelis, Jean Michele Jarre and especially Rick Wakeman are more appropriate. The opening "Well tempered computer" sets the scene well, sounding like a straight extract from Wakeman's "White rock" album, the synth melodies being bold and striking.

"The pendulum" moves deep into JM Jarre territory, with electronic hand claps and a jaunty, infectious melody. "Chase" has a jazzier atmosphere, more in line with Patrick Moraz's style but still with hints of Wakeman in the synth sound used. "Andromeda" could be an outtake from Vangelis's "Albedo 0.39", the space theme of the title also being appropriate to that album.

It is only when we get to "Rondo" that we find any real use of lead guitar, but even here it has to share the stage with the ever present synths. Like "Rondo", "Toccata" is not the familiar classical piece which uses that name, but an original work by the band. The closing "Caleidoscope" has a slightly different synth sound, but is still very much in keeping with the style and substance of the album. The more complex arrangement of the track enhances its appeal.

At a mere 37 minutes, the band could not be accused of outstaying their welcome here. The brevity is however a result of the undeveloped nature of the tracks, which tend to run to around 3 minutes. This in turn gives the album a lightweight feel. What it really needs is a couple of feature tracks which develop the sounds and themes further, taking the music deeper into the classical territories the band apparently favour. Perversely, the short nature of the tracks tends to mean that the album becomes dull as it progresses and the style becomes predictable and repetitive.

Those who favour the electronic sub-genre featured on this site would be well advised to check out this album, which is quite at odds with anything the band had recorded up to this point. The album may still be available for free download at the bands official website.

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 Panta Rhei by PANTA RHEI album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.13 | 4 ratings

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Panta Rhei
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars What is, and what might have been

While other recordings by Panta Rhei predate this release, this was the band's first official album. Released in 1980, some three years after their stillborn debut interpretations of works by Bartok, this self titled album consists of 10 original compositions by the band. Already there has been some turmoil in the line up, although the core of Kalman Matolcsy on keyboards and the Szalay brothers on guitar and bass is still present. Originally intended as an instrumental album, Andras Laar was brought in as vocalist at the request of the record company.

After the brief instrumental introduction of "Ut a varosba (Road to town)" Laar becomes the focus for the lyrical " Mozaik (Mosaic)". The song is far more commercial than anything on the "Bartok" recordings, setting the tone for much of this album. The general feel here is light, almost pop at times, with little of the ELP influences the band were known for.

On "Feregdal (Bug Song)", the band begin to sound like the more commercial side of Amon Duul 2, with strange vocal arrangements and strong lead guitar. Laar's vocal style is at best variable, his contribution to "Emlek (Souvenir)" being decidedly mediocre.

While there are no feature tracks as such, the latter half of the album is occupied by a suite of tracks based on the seasons. The piece starts in "Winter", opening with some powerful church organ before a strong synth solo picks out a theme. Unfortunately, Laar reappears to break the otherwise pleasant, PFM like atmosphere. Thereafter what has the potential to be a rewarding package becomes too pop orientated, with too many catchy hooks and too little exploitation of the band's instrumental prowess. The closing "Teli dal (Winter Song)" is a pleasant acoustic guitar based song very much in the way of Magna Carta.

Panta Rhei were clearly put under pressure by their record company to come up with something commercial, a point which is made apparent by the superior unreleased and rare material now available on compilations. This album could have been great, but unfortunately this is a tale of what might have been, not what is.

The album sold respectably in the band's Hungarian homeland, but is virtually unknown beyond those borders. The band would stop touring shortly after this album was released, metamorphosing thereafter into PR Computer.

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 Bartok by PANTA RHEI album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Bartok
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Barbaric

Hungarian band Panta Rhei (not to be confused with the German band of the same name, or the similarly named Swedish band Panta Rei) were formed in or around 1974. Pretty much unknown beyond their own borders, the band were heavily influenced by Emerson lake and Palmer and that band's predecessors King Crimson and The Nice. The fact that this their first album is named after and based upon the works of Bartok is an early clue to the bands influences. It was an interpretation of a Bartok piece which introduced us to ELP on "The Barbarian", the first track on their first album.

This album was never actually released at the time of its recording, as Bartok's descendants effectively blocked it. In recent times however, the band have made the music available via their website.

There are six track in total here. Three were recorded live, the three studio recordings originally being intended to form the band's first single. All the pieces are adaptations of original Bartok compositions. The dominant sound is that of Hammond organ very like that of Keith Emerson on ELP's early albums.

The opening "Quarts" has immediate similarities with "The Barbarian", Andras Szalay's bass playing being very similar to the style of Lake. One of the band's early claims to fame was that they designed and built their own synthesisers. The first evidence of these is on "Harlequin", a second short but punchy track to introduce the band. Things get more interesting with "Rumanian dances", the final studio track, which has a more intricate structure and some dynamic effects.

At over 12 minutes, "Dance suite" is the longest track here. It is also the first of the live tracks, although you'd be hard pressed to tell. This is the first track to feature any vocals at all, Eniko Acs mixing spoken word with sung verses. He has a strong Italian prog style voice, which adds an extra dimension to the track. Kalman Matolcsy is soon sharing centre stage again with another lengthy keyboard solo. Around the midpoint of the track, the pace changes and the piece moves into a virtuoso monophonic synth solo, the track at this point perhaps borrowing from "Karn evil 9, part 3". We also have a quick burst of what sounds very like "Abadon's bolero".

"Ostinato" is notable mainly because it features a different drummer to the rest of the tracks, Miklos Kiss. Apart from that though, this piece is adequate but unremarkable apart from some impressive synth improvisation. The closing "Allegro barbaro" is the Bartok piece which actually became "The Barbarian". The version here is in reality more of a stright cover of the ELP track than a new interpretation by Panta Rhei.

"Bartok" is an impressive, if sadly stillborn, debut by Panta Rhei. While they are unlikely to win any awards for originality of sound, their Hammond and synth based music will appeal to ELP fans. Worth investigating.

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 Epilógus by PANTA RHEI album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
3.41 | 7 ratings

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Epilógus
Panta Rhei Symphonic Prog

Review by PROGMAN

3 stars EPILOGUS: FILM, SYMPHONIC ROCK, ELECTRONIC AND FUSION MUSIC - all on one compilation!!

There are 3 versions of this Compilation, One CD with 18 tracks,a Double CD with the 18 tracks plus extra live concerts, film soundtracks and for the first time the entire 1976/77 "Bartok" album on CD, and a legal download version with 11 tracks.

The version I am reviewing is the version with 11 tracks.

I agree with Eric's review saying the compilation has Varied and Pleasant tracks, this compilation has many styles, because Panta Rhei - tried many styles including Symphonic Prog Rock, late 1970s Progressive Funk/Jazz Rock and 1980s Instrumental Electronica - even soundtrack for Films and apparently Ballet as well.

"Peer Gynt Suite" a 20 minute symphonic epic heaven, Panta Rhei covers Grieg's composition, and has many changes throughout, Kalman Matolcsy - Hammond organ and analogue synth wizardry is a highlight of this song, including a powerful performance of the Rhythm section from Beke and Szalay, Alex Szalay manages to add a modest guitar solo during the last moments of the track, excellent full on Prog, with a nice choir voice, clearly the best track on the compilation.

"Tropical Fever","Grand Canyon" and "Mandarin": these three tracks consist of shorter timed tracks, with a completely different style from the previous track, the tracks are more jazz orientated, with funk bass lines and a disco-esqe and really retro analogue synths, this can cause difficulties at times, but more listening is required to love the tracks better, these Jazz fusion tracks are quite good.

The other tracks vary style and this time less rock orientated, more electronic, in fact these tracks are pure electronic, some are quite good, but the rest seem poor and cheesy, which is a let down, and the worst less proggier than the Fusion / Symphonic tracks. "Breaking Waves" - OK but nothing special, electronic ballad track, 80s style with the cheaply synths, not the same essence as the electronic prog of the 1970s.

"Riviera" - Quite boring, this is a rather dull and slow synth tracks with really cheesy synths, sound commercial and sound like a cheap 80s action cop TV series, a mediocre track that is not prog either.

"Purple River" - Beter track but still lacking character,this Electronica tracks is a bit more Prog this time, with synth solos sounds like an Moog synth from the 1970s, the synths has a nice landscape like the early Wakeman era of Yes sounding.

"Avalanche" - Sounds like a soundtrack for an action film, again recorded during the mid 1980s, this electronic track is more high tech possibly recorded with a Fairlight Computer, very commercial sounding, but does have some Prog Tendencies, this is a more louder, upbeat track with a rhythm making more easier to the listener,this track is average but not Excellent.

"Walk In The Forest" - A ballad electronic track which is rather simple and not very stimulating, the synths are weak and the song is more mediocre

"USA" - Sounds like another Computerized track, and is a middle of the road, simple composition, track, this is poor track that I not really fond of.

"Memories" - Very Poor and my least favorite track, this track makes me cringe a lot and has embarrassing synth solos, sorry but "Memories" is quite cheesy and depressing.

In general a Good compilation with some weak tracks, the Peer Gynt Suite will be appreciated by Proggers and "Tropical Fever" is another personal favorite, some electronic tracks are nice but some of the others are not. Worth a listen and a ideal compilation if your new to this band and want a taster of their music. Good but not really essential, the 18 track and double CD would be a better value, the 18 track version, listed on PA features tracks from the 1983 LP "PR Computer" with Electronic music recorded on custom build synthesizers and the music is much better and will appeal better to Prog fans.

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Thanks to erik neuteboom for the artist addition. and to bhikkhu for the last updates

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