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Phoenix - Mugur De Fluier CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.83 | 53 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars (3.5 stars, really!)

or An Introduction To A Concert About The Ancient Music Of Romanians

My wish is to write a heartfelt review on a very creative and justly admirable work by Phoenix, the second of three pivotal ones, marking a half-point of style, character and wise perfection inside a great (undoubtedly greatest, for many) period of folk rock - or, way better said, ethno-rock. At my age, discovering Phoenix gives me a sorrow feeling of lateness, otherwise I've got a platonic and sensible love for this band's fabulous work just by listening, peacefully, to the music, and by getting into its folkloric essence (one buttered or vibrated into either usual either extremely genuine rock/songdelic atmosphere) or its purely tasteful art. Naturally, it's a thing of passionately loving the work of a classic generation, a much more accomplished feeling going through those who were contemporary with them or were inspired to live a suspenseful moment of joy in an otherwise darkness-craved world - of course, nostalgia breaking at times into such hearts.

Called Mugur De Fluier (with the subtitle, translated and mentioned in the top headline, having its important connotation) - a title of a slightly untranslatable mainstay - this album is Phoenix's deeper step into folklore and (dug-up) ethnical values, surprising not with the abundance of thesauri music in a new concept of rock and folk music as much as with the elegance and genial achievement of original, crossed-over or influenced fantasy, based on le cour naturelle that's the Romanian tradition (and spirit, metaphorically said in a hint or two); the crystallization in terms of folk(ethno) rock and lyrical poetry is made in an amazing subtlety, plus a mentionable quality. In terms of musical thoroughness, Phoenix develops a much more powerful rock instrumentality, musical quality and energy, likewise when, in the previous album, it was astonishing to hear such a good sound, made of innovative resources. A high-performance was also recording the entire album in 24 hours, despite that several songs were already played in a memorable concert, in 1973, in tandem with Sfinx.

Seeking a line of comparison just for the sake of it, Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume had much more vitality as an album, Mugur De Fluier having a preferably less raw, more simpler and chiefly song-written essence (needless to say, Cantofabule will top everything that matters in the culture, rock-poetical nerve and artistic flame of Phoenix). Mugur De Fluier's "stylistic research", at least in the line of interest, chooses an eclectic loop from south-Balkan music to the northern rhythms, crayoned fragilely still inspiringly. A more interesting approach are forms of gypsy music, touching a great sensibility of, least to mention, songwriting (from archaic elements to the really joyful/bizarre ways of creating authentic verses out of art rock adds). Two new poets for the band are Şerban Foarţă and Andrei Ujică, me personally recognizing what an immense personality the first one is. The lyrics (folkloric, ethnic or free-put) gain an emphasis, not necessarily making the music lush smaller, but broidering, in a simple but profound way, the concept and the open window into the folk steppes, stories and tapped movements. Basically Mugur De Fluier was composed as a rock opera (an EP early on, Meşterul Manole, reminiscencing the same suggestion) - therefore, visible elements like the Lasă, Lasă prelude and intermezzos are imaginatively conceptual - but only a nucleus was, after all, middled inside the album.

In a final effort to mix a walkthrough with a descriptive writing, the way Mugur De Fluier is composed is absolutely lovely - even masterful. It all sounds like fine (selected) poetry, splendid rock-work and a sensible ballad, once the concept (opera-rock or not) is simply natural, and the music has the characteristics of a balanced rhapsody, contrasts being made from the delicate or strong pieces up to the warm or cold extracts. In the absence of such a detail, the album would actually be too scenic. Lasă, Lasă, a miraculously uncensored chant, starts like a warming-up short prelude, but will melt Mugur De Fluier into several parts, each time rising the rapid dance of drums, taps and guitar beats, followed by a shouted enthusiastic and attractive verse - basically, all five "numbers" would group into one poetry, but given the concept, each fragment is one sip at a time. The way I love and admire the composition is notably different than the way the LP is split into sides: Pavel Chinezu-Strunga-Andrii Popa is the strongest and purest arrangement in the entire album; the first is a strong folk-rock piece, its source being a fairly usual poetry for a medieval prince (cneaz), Strunga is a most beautiful and passion-coved chord of a dramatic ballad, with roots in a folklore of essences, and a notably artistic feeling in mystical lyricism, and Andrii Popa is, well, a very airy, popular tune, nudging acoustic rock with purple young vocals by Baniciu. Mica Ţiganiadă-Ochii negri, Ochi de Ţigan-Muzica şi Muzichia-Mugur De Fluier (without the crossing intermezzos) sound like a second act that forms (most especially for the keen listeners), the first of these pieces developing the curious gypsy ideas, the second being the most "beautiful" folk piece, while the latter two are very strong pieces and songs in a shell of melodic, respectively ethnic accent. Folk-rock elements, even some Jethro Tull-ish takes, are strongly pressed. Finally, Anule, Hanule & Dansul Codrilor are very good compositions, rehashing the joy, liveliness and charisma of etno-rock, respectively creating a very complex musical atmosphere, with both cold and epic material. Mugur De Fluier is impressively light and pleasant, but the concept leads to art, to wonderful lyrics and to the natural folklore being a radiant and endless line that creates a rock spectacular opus.

In the end, I can't precisely know what to recommend to fans from around the world. I myself listen to Czech, Russian, Slovakian etc. (rock) music and realize how hard - if not impossible - is to fully understand the music's soft or hard core, even if reading about the concept, the influences or the natural sound in which it bathes. To give it a shot, Mugur De Fluier is an extremely glowing folk-rock work and one of the many treasures of Romanian classic rock, less progressive than the other major works, but convincing, captivating and echoing all the way. Treated as a wide concept of ethnic songs, poetical song-writing, ornamented art and more subtle rocking, it's valorous and worth its warm enchantment.

Ricochet | 3/5 |


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