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LÁSZLÓ BENKő

Progressive Electronic • Hungary


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László Benkő biography
Best known as the keyboard wizard of the venerable Hungarian rock band OMEGA, the solo work of László BENKŐ (b.12.6.43 Szombatheley, Hungary) is by comparison virtually unknown beyond the confines of Eastern Europe. A curious offering of keyboard based electronic music, it can be likened at times to some of TANGERINE DREAM`s mid-seventies material such as Rubycon or Ricochet albeit with a more light-hearted, zany touch much more along the lines of KRAFTWERK minus the vocals or even some of VANGELIS` seventies work. Prefering shorter formats rather than longer multi-dimensional compositions favoured by many progressive electronic artists, it is worth a brief glimpse into his musical contributions and developments within OMEGA in order to better introduce his solo work.

Without question OMEGA was (and is) the biggest rock act to emerge from Eastern Europe and can trace its origins back as far as 1959. After the amalgamation of two student bands from a technical high school in Budapest OMEGA was formed in September 1962 with László BENKŐ being the band`s original keyboard player. Throughout the early sixties they played cover versions from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Herman`s Hermits and the Beatles eventually composing their own psychedelic pop songs. During this period BENKŐ switched to flute and trumpet (he had training in jazz) and two LPs as well as a number of singles had been released by the band by 1971 at which time two players including keyboard player Gabor PRESSER had departed to form another renowned Hungarian band, LOCOMOTIV GT. BENKŐ re-assumed his keyboard position in the band and it was then that his keyboard brilliance was brought into the fore as the band acquired a more progressive sound distantly comparable to that of early KING CRIMSON, The STRAWBS and The MOODY BLUES. In 1973 the band had come to the attention of German record producer Peter Hawke and the band was signed to a three record deal on Bellaphon Records and recorded three English language albums. During these recording sessions in Cologne, FDR they were given access to superior equipment and recording techniques than what were available in the Eastern Bloc at the time and an upbeat synthesizer led ballad entitled Help To Find Me (Nem tudom a neved in Hungarian with a slightly different lyrical meaning) became their signature piece which even elicited a remark from an American critic, "For everyone who wants to grow u...
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LÁSZLÓ BENKő discography


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

4.75 | 5 ratings
Lexikon I
1982
5.00 | 1 ratings
Lexikon II
1984
5.00 | 1 ratings
Ikarosz
1989
3.03 | 4 ratings
Omegamix
1991
5.00 | 1 ratings
Impressio
1994
4.05 | 2 ratings
Hogyan tovább?
2004
4.00 | 2 ratings
Másik világ
2012

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

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

3.25 | 3 ratings
Lexikon A-Z
1989

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

LÁSZLÓ BENKő Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lexikon I by BENKő, LÁSZLÓ album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.75 | 5 ratings

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Lexikon I
László Benkő Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm not familiar with Laszlo Benko's previous band, Omega, but this album Lexikon I is fantastically spacey and quickly paced progressive electronic that sounds similar to the symphonic progressive rock of country-mates Solaris. One thing that stands out front on Lexikon I is the uniquely Hungarian flavor. It's all very folk-dance sounding, almost like B. Bartok's more accessible compositions, but purely electronic and spacey. All of the tracks on this album are mid- to fast- tempo tracks, and that helps keep this album from becoming boring. Lexikon I isn't about atmosphere at all, unlike most progressive electronic music, but is focused much more on interesting keyboard compositions.

This album is like Solaris' masterpiece Marsbeli Kronikak in another way: although this is an '80s recorded album, there is no new-age or pop additions included on this album. It seems as though that Hungary was the place to be for progressive music in the '80. The music and sound quality of this album sounds much more like an enhanced '70s album than anything from the '80s, and Lexikon I is definitely one of the best albums from the '80s. Honestly, this album's unique Hungarian sound mixed with spacey electronic elements makes this album both interesting enough and great enough for me to call this a masterpiece (again, like Marsbeli Kronikak).

Anyone who loves Solaris should definitely check this album out.

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 Hogyan tovább? by BENKő, LÁSZLÓ album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Hogyan tovább?
László Benkő Progressive Electronic

Review by NotAProghead
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars ''Hogyan tovább?'' (the title could be translated as ''What will happen?'') is a very special album in László Benkö's discography. No electronic sounds here, mostly acoustic instruments. It is not rock music either, some pieces are chamber or symphonic, while others have, due to gipsy violin, folky feel. There are also hints of 1940's jazz. There is only one song on the album - ''Hogyan tovább?'', beautifully sung by Zsófi Farkas, its melody serves as a leitmotif and ties pieces together. All other tracks are instrumental.

As it follows from the title, ''Hogyan tovább?'' is a soundtrack of the film ''A Rózsa énekei'' (''Rose's Songs''), based on real events.

Budapest, Autumn 1944, Arrow Cross (Hungarian nazi's organization) terror, Yellow stars, Jewish ghettos. Villa of countertenor Imre Rózsa (Rose in English translation), world famous opera singer, a Jew himself, became the only more or less safety place for the family of his assistant Geza Halász and his friends and relatives. Mr. Rózsa never leaves his room, but once a week people in the house hear him singing. It seems to them, living in constant fear, that they really live only in the moments when these wonderful voice and music sound.

It is not only the story of so called Jewish question, it's rather a story of relations between people, their courage, conscience on one side and betrayal on the other. And it is a story of hope, which, as we all know, lives with people until the end. The movie deservingly won the number of prizes (see details on the film official website http://www.arozsaenekei.hu/index22.html).

László Benkö's music, alarming, but with glimmers of hope, helps to create the atmosphere of the film. It is a piece of art in its own right, but to get the whole picture better try to find ''A Rózsa énekei'' DVD as well (it has English subtitles, very helpful for non-Hungarians). I guess open minded OMEGA fans will be pleasantly surprised to see another side of keyboard wizard's talent, though it's not the record for fans only. Highly recommended.

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 Omegamix by BENKő, LÁSZLÓ album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.03 | 4 ratings

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Omegamix
László Benkő Progressive Electronic

Review by Vibrationbaby

3 stars Rather than hiring a full symphony orchestra as many groups from Pink Floyd to Metallica have done in the past to interpret their music on special occasions, Omega`s redoubtable keyboard player Laszlo Benko did away with that approach and like some sort of clairvoyant gazing into a shrew stone performed this instrumental retrospective Omega`s music on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the band on his magic array of electronic keyboards along with subtle computer treatments. Supplanted by bandmates Janos Kobor on synth guitar and Ferenc Debreceni on electronic drums, this celebratory extravaganza captures the essence of Omega`s melodic and often meloncholic music in a majestic sense while at the same time avoiding unecessary pompousness.

The work consists of two cleverly extended suite-like tracks containing themes from Omega`s repetiore from the sixties all the way up to 1987`s Babylon album which reveals Benko`s knowledge of the classics with each beginning with a prelude-like excerpt followed by individual minor keyed interpretations of each main theme centered around a grand piano which can be instantly identifiable by any long-time fan. Not presented in any specific chonological order but rather arranged dynamicaly, Benko manages to achieve a suprisingly flawless random flow of Omega`s remarkably diverse music written roughly over a 25 year period. Even those who are not familiar with Omega`s work will be taken aback, and as on previous solo work Benko doesn`t stretch himself too much and does not dwell too long on each individual musical idea utilizing his electronic toys at a reasonably conservative virtuosic level and achieving a very pleasant and accessable end result.

Not necessarily an invitation to Omega`s music per say, but rather a souvenir for those familiar with their timeles music to cherish on their 30th anniversary, but this is not to say that it is a fan only album because it definitely holds signifigant appeal for those interested in any form electronic/ambient music.

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 Lexikon A-Z by BENKő, LÁSZLÓ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1989
3.25 | 3 ratings

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Lexikon A-Z
László Benkő Progressive Electronic

Review by Vibrationbaby

3 stars Originally released as two separate albums as Lexikon I & II in 1982 and 1984 respectively these were Omega keyboardist Laszlo Benko`s first attempts at solo work, the first of which coincided with the release of Omega`s 11th studio album, Omega XI. Incorporating the computer technology Omega were dabbling in at the time Benko recorded these two highly experimental electronic keyboard albums which were way out there and sound just as futuristic as they did back ion the early eighties. The Lexikon concept was simply to use words arranged alphabetically as titles for a series of minumilistic electronic keyboard pieces which didn`t necessarily have anything to do with one another whose lengths clocked in at an average of 3 minutes. Just enough time for some interesting musical developments but not acheiving enough monotony to try short attention spans. Although many of the tracks have the potential for extension they remain short and sweet and create many moods from numerous sources of influence from Kraftwerk to earlier Tangerine Dream and others but are not necessarily concerned with textured soundscapes but rather more at driving their points across through short passages with stated themes and ideas which are expanded and added to as much as possible within their short running times. Utilizing contemporary state-of-the-art keyboard products frrom Roland, KORG and Yamaha as well as drum computers, all kinds of quirky musical images and effects are created here. However, there is nothing primitive about Lexikon A-Z but at the same time it does not approach the sophistication of the ambient visions of artists normally associated within the progressive electronic realm. Although disciplined, Lexikon A-Z does indeed tend to sound like Benko playing around with his newly acquired toys on Christmas morning especially on more outlandish tracks such as the spooky Drakula, the bizarre Circusz and the psuedo waltz, Pieta, nonetheless these pieces are nonetheless warmly refreshing. Other somewhat more serious tracks such as Mambo, Fata Morgana, Quartier Latin or Atlantisz stretch the technology avialable to Benko creating all kinds of simulations of steel drums, simulated vocalizations and even evoking the ambience of a outdoor French café on Quartier Latin. Other tracks explore more rhythmic techno experiments (Babel, X.Y., SOS) and those familiar with the music of Benko`s work in his day job with Omega will also recognize some themes from Omega tracks popping up from time to time as well.

An interesting mish mash of electronic computer generated musical ideas and concepts which, because of their individual running times, move the album along at a quick pace. If distant comparisons must be made Kraftwerk and Nue! would come to mind as well as a bit of everything from the 70`s electronic/ambient scene but without the tense atmospheres, layering and extended themes. Technologically sound and well produced in the hands of a veteran normally heard in a group situation, Lexikon A-Z is a more light hearted approach to synthesised music that doesn`t take itself too too seriuosly.

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 Omegamix by BENKő, LÁSZLÓ album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.03 | 4 ratings

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Omegamix
László Benkő Progressive Electronic

Review by NotAProghead
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

3 stars ''Omegamix'' is the most accessible solo work of Laszlo Benko. There are two long tracks, each, in its turn, contains cuts of OMEGA tunes performed by Laszlo on keyboards. Other band members are also credited, but it's not so easy to distinguish between electronic drums played by Ferenc Debreceni and programmed drum sounds.

OMEGA are great masters to create nice and memorable melodies, so no wonder this record is enjoyable. Good to listen to in the background, especially if you recognize the tunes. If you are not familiar with OMEGA songs you probably will be pleased with this album, but I don't think after listening to it you'll rush to search band's albums in stores. Anyway, hardly essential, but nice CD.

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