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Solaris - Solaris 1990 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.67 | 120 ratings

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4 stars This is one of those bands that I have deliberately omitted to review until a more mature later date, so as to let a few hundred reviews go by before transmitting the euphoria at reviewing prog music from my long-exiled homeland. I never wanted to appear too chauvinistic and overblow my natural admiration for my bloodlines. Even having lived forever abroad had not stilted my deep-rooted belonging to such a unique people and their national character of ferocious independence and melancholia. I had noticed as an eleven -year old tourist going to my very first concert "Omega" (of all bands, this back in 1967), remembering the defiant very Western, very Deep Purple at the time look, which strongly mimicked the prevalent American pre-Woodstock rise of the hippie movement. We proggers prefer to call it "Psychedelia" because we are so romantic. Throughout the decades under somewhat lax communist censorship, many rock and prog groups emulated their Occidental counterparts and rebelled against the orthodox norm. Poland also paralleled these musical rebellions. There were many good groups besides Omega such as Illés, Lokomotiv GT and Skorpió, while the mid-80s saw the nascent arrival of three pure prog entities: East, After Crying and Solaris. Solaris' initial release "Mársbeli Kronikák" made quite an impression world-wide, an unfathomable artistic luxury behind the creaking Iron Curtain and set the stage of a career that continues today.

Solaris 1990 is a 2 CD set that also includes a live set as bonus tracks. What an intense escapade this is, just as tasty and relevant as the preceding and following masterpieces. "Viking Viszatér" is a hard- hitting guitar riff, butt-sniffed by a whimsical Attila Kollár flute delicacy that gives off the aroma of Jethro Tullian expanses that are wholly appealing, an intrepid axe solo that howls mightily, nimble bass and fantastic percussives from László Gömör round up this journey.

"Ellenpont" sort of continues the mood in a yet more intricate surrounding, encircled by wondrous flute melodies, sibilant synth solos from Robert Erdész and a bass bottom that just launches the whole forward, at break-neck speed. This ain't no wimpy stuff, just a magnificent contrast between testosterone power and harmonious estrogen chock full of sweaty sections, technical ones as well and then interspersed with gentle pastoral parts.

"Oz" has an electronica touch, TDream meets the Manfred Mann's Earth Band , swaths of mellotron-like orchestrations overlaid by slippery synthesized barrages, whistling or exploding as need be. A rabid guitar solo adds only more fuel to the fire and. The rollicking "Mickey Mouse" ( a huge sub-culture hero in the Warsaw Pact countries!) is a playful ditty that loosens the chops to a more overt jam , chunky guitar and riffling flute once again in conspiracy , traversed by that sweet synth , very effective, thank you.

"Eden" is an under-appreciated progressive classic that has all the heady ingredients for posterity, owner of a killer bass-fueled mood, a tremendous bluesy guitar rampage, deeply opinionated keyboard manifestations and a magical flute that journey openly into heavenly bliss. The next two cuts rumble on nicely , the second a very sequence ?loaded spacey splurge that flies mightily , unafraid of the depths of the universe.

Disc 1 ends with the whopping 23 minute+ "Los Angeles 2026" (see what I mean by open crafty rebellion?), a massive colossus of progressive amazement, massed choirs trumpeting their entrance. Blooming with breathy confidence, the group arranges an intricate labyrinth of sound and texture that conveys the essence of this involved band's elite status among so many in Progland. It has everything from a dozen various melodies played with utter conviction to exalted soloing and a fiery expression of artistic discovery. Even the ultra-romantic Liszt- like piano interlude is enough to make a grown man grin with glee, fluid rhapsodized fingers floating over the ivories with impunity. If you enjoy a heavy round of multiple solos, this will bowl you sideways.

Disc 2 has a lot a material ranging from the soft musings of space to the harsher climates of fast-paced, flute pulled prog. It kicks off with "Ejszakai Tárlat", a spooky electro romp that has all the ingredients that makes Solaris such a joy, raunchy guitar and dancing flute leading the way through dense keyboard storms , with bass and drums keeping it all tight and taut.

"Szabadjáték" is a lengthier more deliberate etude where atmosphere takes precedence over immediacy, at least until the choppy organ kicks in, abetted by some sly guitar workouts, a drop-dead gorgeous acoustic guitar piece sends this one off into the clouds.

"Ejféli Valcer" is a modern rock waltz with carousel themes and a light breezy tempo. "Jozsi.." is a playful jam that features both ends burning with mischievous arrogance and ends with a revisit of "Ejszakai Tárlat" , called "V-1990" that whirls in vortexian splendor. The next series of pieces are from a different concert setting with assorted classical guests (on trumpet, violin, oboe and cimbalom), stretching from the overpowering "E-Moll Concerto" to the Spanish lilt of "Paella", a ravishing acoustic guitar excursion that is magnificent. The Iberian theme is then expanded into a rockier format ("A Kigyó Szive"), where flute and electric guitar intertwine with sophisticated glee, prancing uncontrollably.

"Magyar Tánc" is another clever rapturous promenade with blitzing lines (cimbalom), bruising bass leading the way, the oh so Hungarian clarinet (Tárogató) divulging its charm and the harsh guitar pirouetting with genuflecting audacity. The magnificent"Duo" is, as the name implies, a combination of astute flute and grandiose acoustic guitar that lightens back to a darker age, intensely medieval and pastoral. The massive musical document ends on a humorous pot-pourri of orchestral sounds and classic well known snippets that many will recognize a rather purposefully cheesy yet sarcastic expression of their humble artistic vision and good-natured playfulness. This collection is a vital addition to their discography, containing some brilliant pieces of superlative progressive rock. No true prog collection would be complete without some Solaris . The next one, "Nostradamus" is their crowning achievement though.

4.5 Hungarian suns

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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