Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

SFINX

Eclectic Prog • Romania


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sfinx picture
Sfinx biography
SFINX was founded in Bucharest in 1963 by Octav Zemlicka (lead guitar & vocals), Corneliu Bibi Ionescu (bass guitar) and Cristian Valica (drums), while they were still in high school; their main activity was playing gigs in various studentfests or summer seaside opportunities. Because of school attending problems various lineups can be counted in their early years, a habit that became constant; only one founding member was in the band when it broke into two new ones in 1994. The history of SFINX takes note of at least 16 bandmembers names.

The major event for Sfinx was the Dan Andrei ALDEA's joining in 1967, at the time only a violin and guitar student at the music highshool, later to become singer and leader of the now recognised second-best ever Romanian rock group and to gain personal fame of musical genius. The band had a first large live audience succes in 1971 with the "Sir de cocori" song, which led them into writing the music for a film that was to be a masterpiece of Romanian cinematography, and consequently into long-term theatrical projects. In the end they managed to release the song as a single ("Sir de cocori / Languir me fais", 1972), then to release an EP ("Sfinx", 1974). Their first major hit was the "Lume Alba" ("White World") full album from 1975; it shows various progressive rock aspects from the likes of NEKTAR, ELP and FUZZY DUCK, with some hard guitar riffs. Their masterpiece was to be the 1978 released "Zalmoxe", a concept album based on the archaic mythology of the Dacians. It's a true progresive rock feast, with great keyboard parts, all in the mood of GENESIS or MICHAEL NYMAN but with a great original touch. The album consists of studio recorded excerpts from the original live prog-opera "Zalmoxe" set up by ALDEA; the regime never allowed the band to release the whole show as it was suspected to be politically subvsersive. For the same reason, ALDEA's 1979 solo single was withdrawn from the stores, which led to his leaving into political exile in Germany after the band released two last singles in 1980 in the classic line-up . He never accepted the opportunity to reunite with Sfinx, even after the fall of Comunism. The band didn't give up and released a last full album in 1984, "Albumul albastru" ("The Blue Album"), more related to standard pop-rock then to progressive. The band still exists, but without any relevant public activity for over two decades now.

The ALDEA period of SFINX represents, together with PHOE...
read more

SFINX forum topics / tours, shows & news


SFINX forum topics
No topics found for : "sfinx"
Create a topic now
SFINX tours, shows & news
No topics found for : "sfinx"
Post an entries now

SFINX Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to SFINX

Buy SFINX Music



More places to buy SFINX music online

SFINX discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.46 | 33 ratings
Lume Alba
1975
4.05 | 84 ratings
Zalmoxe
1979
2.12 | 16 ratings
Sfinx (Albumul albastru / The Blue Album)
1984

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

SFINX Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

4.14 | 7 ratings
Sir de cocori / Languir me fais
1972
4.40 | 5 ratings
Sfinx
1974
4.33 | 9 ratings
Din nou acasa / Zmeul / Fetele albinele
1980
4.33 | 6 ratings
Focuri vii - '49-'50
1981

SFINX Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sfinx (Albumul albastru / The Blue Album) by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.12 | 16 ratings

BUY
Sfinx (Albumul albastru / The Blue Album)
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by DangHeck

1 stars Good God... A synthesized nightmare... Please listen to their first two.

Oi... As I'm getting to this one, the thankfully final statement by Romania's Sfinx, if it weren't for the clear, though slight 'majority' for 3/5 stars, I wouldn't have been able to guess how polarizing this one is. But hey... I can say now definitively: How the hell is this album polarizing at all?! At best Synth-Pop with decent melodies (I guess); at worst... literally very nearly nothing good happens on this album.

"An Dupa An"... what do I say... These drums have aged terribly. Though, also, I can't see them ever sounding all that good. The keys and the guitar aren't a whole lot better. We were warned about this shift to Pop-Rock, were we not? It's not great here. Decent melody, if anything. Then it's on to the... 'hard rockin'' "Pe Pamant Pace". The drums sound just as bad. It's pretty hokey. What ties this to our Proggy past is the organ, but... Yikes! The electric kit just sounds so plastic and unsavory... If it weren't for the actually very very nice guitar solo, this song would have not just gone nowhere, but stayed bad indefinitely. Don't get me wrong: It's still bad.

Something regal and reminiscent of Proggings Past is "Rostul Vietii". I mean, we all remember Rick Wakeman, right guys? And then splat! I don't know. These drums are just the worst and will bring down any song anywhere... Welcome to AOR, guys... I'm sorry.

What follows is... Jazz?! "Canta Cu Mine" brings us into the space lounge and... I guess my weird ass is ready for some delicious Space Romanian Space Cocktails. Around half a minute is this very East Euro thing... Then... what the f*ck... It's Ska?! hahaha. And then it's Eastern Europe's answer to Mario 64... I'm so over this... What else? Well, I can say this: Best song on the album so far (2/5 stars). We're still in vidja game land with "Patru Anotimpuri Cu Tine" and for once I'm actually kind of charmed by the intro. The verses are totally Synth Pop schlock (like, Synth Pop at its worst, and weirdly it's never been this bad). Pretty decent synth solo. I can see it having a place, but still, it's not good.

On "Zana Serii", we're back to sinning by drums... ugly as hell. Now's as good a time as any: The best thing about this album are the vocals. Next... we're playing Runescape in 2004 with the boys on "Intr-Un Cer Violet"! Easily the most handsome track, as even the weird electro-kit isn't totally offensive. Then a key-dolin(?!) solo?! haha. It's charming. I'm not mad. For once.

To end this whole affair (and to end our misery thusly), "Carul Mare" starts off most confident of the whole bunch. There's still plenty to frown at though, unforutnately. Very static song. The guitar(?!) is the highlight on this one for once, but like... it's grating... All I gotta say.

True Rate: 1.5/5.0

 Lume Alba by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.46 | 33 ratings

BUY
Lume Alba
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by DangHeck

4 stars Lume Alba, the 1975 debut by this Romanian Prog band, came out just in time to place them right at the fore of what I consider the Second Wave of Progressive Rock, some of their most notable international contemporaries being bands such as Rush, Camel and Kansas. This is the beginning of a near-10-year long recording history. Helluva start.

Right off the bat with "Rasarit, Calatorul Si Copacul", we have some very quirky psychedelia in the form of a Keith Emerson-esque synth jaunt. Around a minute all falls away to nothing and piano picks up. This has some Jangle Pop in it and... maybe if Roots Rock had a baby with Schlager? Am I misremembering how this traditional genre sounds? Very infectious vocal melodies, nice beat and viol!

In for a rockin' number and definitively Prog, once again, eventually, in the ELP vein, "Secolul Vitezei" is a great track! This level of synth performance here can not be found at all on their 1979 follow-up, Zalmoxe. Right off the bat, I must ask... Why is this so much better than that album and nowhere near as regarded? [I do feel, having let it marinate after listening to both, they really are comparable in quality to some extent... There's just so much ear candy here that their second doesn't quite reach.] I prayed the quality would be sustained throughout this one [It fared pretty well.]... Continuing in ELP admiration is "Sinteze", and my mind immediately went to "The Endless Enigma" (Trilogy is my forever favorite from that trio). People may come out in droves to complain about copycat bands: be warned haha. This features a really great melody/theme. Nearing minute 3, guitar takes mainstage. These guys really can play. Things fall away and the guitar, too, becomes a percussion instrument along with the drums. This is an excellent must-hear.

"Magelan" is a sort of darker number. Really fun and weird. And then when it didn't even need it, a big shift around minute 1. So awesome. Welcome to frisson country! Really stellar, clean synths and lovely vocals (unironically, it tonally sounds like Roy Estrada of the Mothers of Inventions if he wasn't a pseudo-castrato). Onto our title track, "Lume Alba", it's a slow one and yet once again classic and pop-sensitive to my ears. I'd love to hear this in a Spaghetti Western haha. The synth is very old-school and spacy and the guitar reverberates to and fro. This track does not operate in any way as an interlude, of sorts, as "Hora De Baieti" has absolutely nothing to do with it, starting off heavy and groovy. Nice melodies. Decent guitar work.

Also on the heavier side is "Norul", a galloping song with real Rock sensibility. This one has a bit more goin' on in the guitar department, but is more reminiscent of... well, Hard Rock. Like Bad Company? Or anything else that Paul Rodgers was in haha. Much more complex immediately is "Muntele". The bass follows the guitar in melody and it's back to the gallop, but with big keys-synth energy. They really did default to the Emerson way of doing things here. I'm not complaining. I mean, really, very cool, spacy and intricate key work. Even in its more quieted, spaced out moments, it should keep you on your toes. Finally, we have "Om Bun", with a flutophone(?!) return to the Ren Faire. A mystical sort of number, certainly an interesting way to go out.

True Rate: 3.5/5.0 [I've decided to make the rare exception of rounding up from a half-star.]

 Zalmoxe by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 84 ratings

BUY
Zalmoxe
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by DangHeck

3 stars Second Wave Proggers hailing from Romania (I'm not sure I'm aware of any of their would-be peers), Zalmoxe is their second studio album (1979). A good example of something that occurs quite a lot on this site: one middle-career album that is absolutely beloved and highly heralded collectively amidst other albums that are apparently not up to snuff in comparison.

"Ursitoarele" starts everything off with a sort of medieval vocal section. And as the vocals come in, in my experience, this is squarely Eastern European. I feel as though some of my first tastes of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso sounded somewhat like this, though, too (I guess the Romantic ties are stronger than I realized). Around minute 3, the vocals fall away and it is an instrumental blaze of excitement. Certainly worth hearing once. Guitar and drums are aflame above soft keys. The vocal melody in this second half is also quite nice.

"Blana De Urs" is very bright and immediately reminds of Supertramp, but also melodically of bands like Starcastle and Citadel. Great track. Really great vocal harmonies with some awesome memorable melodies. With a shared theme, "Mierea" enters in cool and spacious. The cymbal bell strikes are reminiscent of ITCOTCK. The synth pads are very of the time. As collected and close as this track is, it has a great rhythm. Excellent, feeling guitar solo here. "Pestera" comes off the former with a very different feel: Mid-Eastern(?) with really cool percussion and what sounds like sitar. Features a pretty cool synth solo.

"Epiphania" starts off sweet and open with synth padding, then acoustic guitar and balladic vocals. It's lackluster at first, eventually building around minute 2 with synth and epic drums. Very of the time, here in the second half. Sort reminiscent to something out of Styx's discography, I guess? It hasn't aged exceptionally, though it does have a great feel. Also worth a listen once or twice. Good enough time as any to say that the mix for a lot of the instruments is weirdly low throughout the album. "Furtuna Cu Trup De Balaur" is the first track that really feels like we're in a world that is (unfortunately) ready for Neo-Prog. There's still plenty of old holding it back (ya know, in the good way). I thought it was a good track, but some of the choices compositionally, I suppose, were not exactly great. I really cannot place it...

"Calatorul Prin Nori" starts off open and ethereal, like a call to something ancient. The track's English title is "Cloud Traveller" [sic] and... it fits! It's one step away from being ambient. Things build in the second half. Grandiose and yet... static? It was pretty good. The theme of the next, "Kogaion", is a melodic continuation of the former. This is a creeping track, once again hearkening back to something ancient, medieval or hermetic... Looking at the title, I had a thought that maybe it was some kind of callback to Magma's/Vander's Kobaďan alien language. This track is truly sinister... and doesn't really sound like anything else. The way they mixed the drums in both ears is honestly alarming in minute 2... And finally is the "Epilog", low and slow and yet big. When I saw 'finally', that is for the original release, so onto the so-called bonus tracks!

"Din Nou Acasa" starts off low and slow, and... relatively uninteresting. Really cool sonic choices though as we approach the midpoint. And then we have... boogie-woogie(?) in "Scufita Rosie". It's honestly pretty cool once it gets going (I mean, pretty immediately actually haha). Very unlike anything on the album. And yet it's one of the most solid things on the album... haha. Prog fans will have to decide for themselves. "Fetele Albine" [y'all know 'honey f*ckers', because it wasn't me who told you about them hahahaha] starts off interestingly enough. Pretty cool, of the time sonic choices here. Weirdly reminiscent of... Synth Pop? And then truly finally, "Zmeul", a Vaudeville-ready number with rolling keys and drums and optimistic vocals. Really cool is the viol in the second half! Sweet solo. Very quirky. Then... what?! Queen-esque guitar harmonies! Very neat. Sort of reminiscent of Sparks, I do suppose. And that's it!

Bonus tracks considered and not considered, True Rate: 3.5/5.0. Perhaps overhyped, but I'm happy to let people love the things they love [I mean, I love Starcastle and the site doesn't necessarily haha].

 Zalmoxe by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 84 ratings

BUY
Zalmoxe
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars SFINX got their start in 1963 when three High School students formed this band. "Zalmoxe" was released in January of 1979 and only the bass player remains from the original group. A four piece here of guitar/vocals, bass, drums and keyboards, this is a concept album to do with mythology. These guys are from Romania and while I only have a handful of Romanian albums this is clearly the best album I've heard from this former communist nation. I'm so impressed with this record that seems maybe more Symphonic than anything else. And I'm surprised at how original it sounds or I should say I'm surprised this isn't a copy of GENESIS, YES or KC. The only bands I thought of with this album was GENESIS and that was because of the synths and also PFM for the same reason.

The opener "Fortune Tellers" is my favourite. This is where we get a bit of a GENESIS/PFM vibe. They repeat themes and man how gorgeous does this sound before 2 1/2 minutes. The guitar is excellent too after 3 minutes. Synths and vocals standout on "Bear's Fur" where two themes are contrasted. "The Honey" is a mellow tune including the soft vocals, spacey synths. The guitar solo is also relaxed after 2 1/2 minutes. Intricate sounds including percussion and guitar as vocals sing over top. Some depth and nasty keyboards after a minute. Really good. "Epiphany" is another beautiful and light track with vocals early on before they amp it all up some 2 1/2 minutes in. "Dragon Shaped Storm" is more urgent sounding and even the vocals sound more serious. Oh yeah the storm. "Cloud Traveller" has synths all over it as a dramatic beat joins in. Some uplifting stuff later on in this very cool sounding tune. "Kogaion" is my second favourite track. Lots of atmosphere with vocal expressions. Inventive. Some chants too then it turns heavier 2 minutes in with that guitar and more. So good. "Epilogue" is a good closer starting off very laid back with vocals before turning more passionate. Lots of synths minus vocals late to end it.

A classic seventies album right here. Not a masterpiece in my opinion but one that I think most Prog fans would really appreciate to have in their collection.

 Lume Alba by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.46 | 33 ratings

BUY
Lume Alba
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Beautiful almost forgotten prog rock album from my country from our top band named Sfinx. Issued in 1975 named Lume alba, the debut. Definetly the sound and music was in time with prog scene around that time, it sounding most of the time to me with some italian bands from that period, Alusa Fallax comes in mind. Some great pieces here like Sinteze, Secolul vitezei or Muntele, just strong beautiful prog with some intresting instrumental sections, worth investigated.

3.5 stars for sure, a good towards great in places release, their next one Zalmoxe tops this one in every aspect, but both albums worth have.

R.I.P. - Dan Andrei Aldea 9 March 1950 - 18 January 2020

He was one of the most acomplished musicians from these parts of the world in prog scene.

 Zalmoxe by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 84 ratings

BUY
Zalmoxe
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by Obersturmbannprogger

2 stars Wow, im very surprised from the amount of such positive reviews in this case. I have listened to this album many times and always have ended with mixed feelings. Its not a bad album, but i simply rarely hear some originality here (really only except sparse used Gregorian style chorals) and it leaves me always cold and uninterested. Its some kind of concept album with a bit of folky hints and traces of Balkan music (too few, a pity), but it fails to interest me to try to discover the story behind the music.

Its typical late 70s overblown symphonic rock with heavy use of synths, full of cliches and even with hints of poppy vocal harmonies (albeit well done) ala Styx for example. I have heard it so many times before and often better played and composed...

Musicianship is good, but nothing extraordinary happens here. Another major drawback for me is the dull recording production, very average guitar tone and overall dead sound. Yes, on the other side i understand that during brutal communist regime in that era its really nearly a miracle to hear such album from this country. I prefer their first album over this one and overall their colleagues Phoenix is a better choice for me.

I have nothing to say more, 2 or max. 2,5 stars.

 Lume Alba by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.46 | 33 ratings

BUY
Lume Alba
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Sfinx came in life in Bucharest around 1963, found by three high school students and friends, drummer Cristian Valica, bassist Corneliu "Bibi" Ionescu and singer/guitarist Octav Zemlicka.Among their early members was also organist Idu Barbu, but the crucial point comes in 1967, when violin player and student Dan Andrei Aldea joined the band, he was destined to become the band's leader and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist.Several members would come and go over the span of the next 7-8 years, Sfinx'es fame though was on the rise, writing music for the film ''Nunta de piatra'' and releasing a first single in 1972.A second EP follows in 1974 at a time, when Ionescu and Aldea were surrounded by ex-Mondial drummer Mihai Cernea and a second guitarist, Dan Badulescu.Their ex-keyboardist Idu Barbu helped them during the recording sessions of their debut ''Lume alba'', which was released in 1975 on the Electrecord label.

You shouldn't expect by a band from Romania, a country with limited tradition in Progressive Rock, to break new grounds, but Sfinx appeared to be more than just a talented band on ''Lume alba'', exploring music fields that were almost forbidden for other groups.They played a mix of straight Hard Rock with some supporting poppy tunes, but I also encounter lots of folky influences and spacey, Fusion touches in their sound.The standard-structured tracks are rather of limited interest for fans with no access to the Romanian language, containing lots of punchy guitars, catchy choruses and dynamic grooves, which are sometimes surrounded by discreet keyboard sounds.But there are also tracks in here that are surprisingly good and beyond their time regarding the Romanian Rock scene.For example ''Sinteza'' is powered by great electric solos and a marching rhythm section, accompanying some impressive Moog synth solos with a slight spacey underline or the title-track, which sounds extremely trippy with its wordless vocals, background bass lines and soaring synth lines.''Muntele'' is very interesting as well, some of the guitar parts recall KING CRIMSON at their mid-period, the Hard Rock leads are still in evidence, but the semi-symphonic synths, the powerful breaks and the changing climates add a personal aura in this piece.''Calatorul si copacul'', the opening track is a nice attempt in Folk/Pop with great violin work by Aldea, while the swansong of the album, ''Om bun'', is a beautiful piece of archaic Prog Folk with a slight Medieval atmosphere, featuring poetic voices, traditional flute lines and light bass work.

That's what should be called Art Rock.Not groundbreaking by any means, however ''Lume alba'' remains a hidden gem of versatile Eastern-European Rock music with multilpe influences, likely to satisfy all lovers of flexible listenings.Recommended.

 Zalmoxe by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 84 ratings

BUY
Zalmoxe
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars SFINX began all the way back in 1963 in Bucharest but wouldn't release their first album until 1975 and is one of the few Romanian progressive bands i've ever come across. This second album ZALMOXE is a concept album based on the lyrics of poet Alexandru Basarab which retold the story of Zalmoxis's existence. Zalmoxis, you may be wondering, is a divinity of the Getae (a tribe of the lower Danube) mentioned by Herodotus in his Histories IV, 93-96. I had to look this up so if you want more info I advise you to do the same! Unfortunately the album was ready for market shorty after their first release LUME ALBA in 1975 but due to political censorship by the Communist regime, the album was delayed 3 years and half of it scrapped. The original intent was to have a double album. Once finally released the album was a huge hit in their native homeland but has remained a bit obscure everywhere else. The lyrics are totally in Romanian. This is one that I wish I could understand because it sounds like an interesting concept that warrants comprehension of the story.

As for the music itself, it is eclectic but has a very symphonic sound. It is always dramatic and melodic. To me it sounds like it is most closely akin to symphonic Italian prog like PFM especially in Dan Andrei Aldea's vocal department with the rest of the band harmonizing. He is also the guitarist and plays some great heavy prog sounds with the guitar. Some of the more pastoral moments can bring Genesis to mind as well. Nicole Enache's keyboards can be bombastic like in ELP but most often not and band members always complement the other instruments so any one particular member never steals the show for long. At times the keyboards have a new wave repetitive synth approach. There are long drawn out symphonic parts and there are energetic bursts of energy strewn about. Drummer Mihai Cernea keeps the rock in the prog and surely deserves a mention here. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that there seems to be no Romanian folk music influences whatsoever.

Overall I really like this album. It's not quite up to masterpiece level. I am left wondering if the original double-album would bring this altogether a bit better. It sounds like things may have been clipped somewhat haphazardly but also the quality sounds very good like something greater once existed. I am left admiring this album for what is but wishing it could have been what it was intended to be.

 Zalmoxe by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 84 ratings

BUY
Zalmoxe
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars A couple years ago, my good friend Szolt Enyedi (Keyboardist of YESTERDAYS), sent me a collection of his favourite Romanian albums,. and among this "Zalmoxe" with an special recommendation. So heard it and was fascinating, but in those days SFINX wasn't inckluded in Prog Archives, so wasn't able to review it.

The years passed and after adding TABULA SMARAGDINA from Hungary, "Zalmoxe" was mentioned in the thread, checked it and I forgot to write a review, so immediately took my CD, placed in the computer and decided to write a review that made some justice to this excellent album that defines the essence of what Eclectic Prog means.

"Zalmoxe" is opened with the breathtaking blend of Baroque and quasi Gregorian introduction of "Ursitoarele" (Fortune Tellers), but after some seconds this changes radically into a fluid Symphonic - Heavy Prog song with multiple changes and amazing guitar riffs. This guys don't save anything for the end, they give 110% from the start.

"Blana de Urs" (Bear's Fur) starts with a long introductory section that morphs into an organ driven passage that reminds me almost immediately of YES. In this case the drumming and bass are outstanding, complementing perfectly the creative work of Guitar, Keyboard and vocals, just delightful. But that's not all, the song morphs again into some sort of Classic Rock with strong keyboards that seems simple, but it's quite interesting.

"Mierea" (The Honey) reminds me of 1970's releases by Argentinean bands such as SERU GIRAM or SUI GENERIS, because of the way they make an elaborate song seem so simple and fluid,. almost as a soft ballad, but in this case with surprising fugues of keyboard. Beautiful and interesting.

It's sad to listen this great music and not be able to understand the lyrics (Don't know a word of Romanian), but he beauty and naive complexity of their music makes me care very little about this, and Pestera is a great example, when I listen the 2:00 minutes instrumental break with a sound that seems as a native wind instrument and lush keyboards, I forget about any linguistic problem and can only concentrate in the heartbreaking music.

"Epifania" (Epiphany) is another soft and gentle Ballad that seems to flow gently from start to end without surprises, but nothing so far from truth, when you less expect, a dramatic change or a lush keyboard impromptu makes the listener remember that we are before a Progressive Rock band and that we must expect the unexpected.

"Furtuna cu Trup de Balour" (Dragon Shaped Storm) marks a break point in the album, if the previous songs were soft, gentle and melodic, "Furtuna" is frenetic and even heavy, with one of the ,most unusual structures I heard. Even when this guys rock, they do it in an original way, special mention to the organs sections that give extra brilliance to an already excellent song.

"Călătorul Prin Nori" (Cloud Traveller) is a strange mix between ethnic sounds, electronic music and a bit of VANGELIS, but as the song advances the Folk component takes the first role with it's nostalgic and warm atmosphere, while "Corneliu Bibi Ionescu" in the bass and "Mihai Cernea" in the drums give a touch of mystery that seem to lead to an explosion of sounds that never comes, keeping the audience in suspense. Brilliant structure.

"Kogaion" with it's extraordinary vocal work between haunting Monastery choirs and QUEEN at it's best (For God's sake even "Dan Andrei Aldea" with his guitar sounds close to Brian May), the track is always in crescendo, until they reach a point in which suddenly stops, a great preparation for the grand finale.

"Epilog" (Epilogue) closes the album with another unusual combination of sounds, styles and moods, that go from vocal and fluid to dark and mysterious, a bit short maybe, but good closer.

The version I received has four more tracks, but those who know me are aware that I never review bonus tracks despite their quality, because in my opinion an album must be listened in the way the author originally released it.

"Zalmoxe" is another reason of why I'm so obsessed with Eastern Europe Prog, their versatility, the new sounds that come from their own native sounds and the dexterity of the musicians, make me love the music from this part of the world more and more.

Not a perfect masterpiece, but extremely close to this status, so any rating bellow 4 stars would be absolutely unfair.

 Zalmoxe by SFINX album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 84 ratings

BUY
Zalmoxe
Sfinx Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This album turned out to be everything I read it would be and more – what an outstanding piece of seventies prog! Romanians may be familiar with Sfinx, but for guys like me on the other side of the world this is a band and a record that is a delight to discover even more than thirty years after its release.

I suppose the band may rate a ‘progressive folk’ label based on the lyrical theme of this album, or perhaps thanks to a few lighter and somewhat pastoral tunes on the record such as “Mierea” or the ambient and heavily synthesized “Călătorul prin nori”; not sure. In reality though this could easily be considered a symphonic rock band with their extensive use of keyboards, tight electric guitar riffs and regular rock-opera, swelling arrangements reminiscent of the American art rock band Styx circa the same timeframe (listen to “Kogaion” and tell me you don’t hear “Mr. Roboto”, or a viber similar to “Fooling Yourself” on “Blana De Urs”).

These are not ripoffs or tributes though, but rather a quartet of dedicated musicians half a world away from the rock arenas of North America, discovering their own sound and apparently in spirited competition with countrymen Phoenix for the hearts and minds of adventurous music lovers in Communist-era Romania. This was originally supposed to be released in 1975 and was also supposed to be a double album, but thanks to government bureaucracy and censorship was reduced to just forty-two minutes (plus a few bonus tracks on the reissue).

Not that I’m complaining; the music that made it to release is top-notch as the band relates the life story of Greek cult figure Zalmoxis as told in the lyrics of Romanian poet Adrian Hoajă. I’m sure the storyline enhances the appeal of the album for native speakers, but I’m quite impressed simply by the quality of the music without even knowing more than just the theme of the songs themselves. Like I said, if you were into seventies arena art-rock bands like Styx, the Nice or even ELO you should find this album appealing. At times it’s heavier and more proggy than those bands though, who tend to be known as more commercial (and rightfully so). Sfinx take their craft a bit more seriously I think, as evidenced in the wickedly heavy instrumental (guitar/keyboards) dirge “Kogaion” or the spacey “Calatorul Prin Nori” (the traveler through clouds). That latter one has a few issues with the production quality, which in general is good on the album but uneven in just a few spots.

I really wonder what the other disc’s worth of music that was cut from this record sounded like. One can imagine a true rock opera with deep forays into synthesizer and guitar riffs stretching out over well over an hour; perhaps someday the suppressed tapes will be reunited with this music and a proper reissue can be made.

In the meantime, check out this four-star genuine prog rock gem. Highly recommended for prog folk, symphonic rock and art rock fans in general. Well worth a listen.

peace

Thanks to Joolz for the artist addition. and to andu for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.