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Panta Rhei - Bartok CD (album) cover


Panta Rhei


Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 16 ratings

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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?

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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