Monday, December 21, 2015

Sfinx - 1975 - Lume Alba

Lume Alba

01. Rasarit / Calatorul ?i Copacul (Sunrise / The Traveler and the Tree) (4:20)
02. Secolul vitezei (Speed Century) (3:20)
03. Sinteze (Synthesis) (6:55)
04. Magelan (Magellan) (2:50)
05. Lume alba (White World) (2:30)
06. Hora de baie?i (Boy's Dance) (4:35)
07. Norul (The Clould) (4:35)
08. Muntele (The Mountain) (6:55)
09. Om bun (Kind Man) (3:05)

- Dan Andrei Aldea / guitar, vocals
- Corneliu Bibi Ionescu / bass guitar
- Mihai Cernea / drums, vocals
- Dan Badulescu / guitar, vocals

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 For the same reason, ALDEA's 1979 solo single was withdrawn from the stores, which led to his leaving into political exile in Germany after the band released two last singles in 1980 in the classic line-up .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.

Excellent start for a band from Romania! My father bought the vinyl when I was a little kid. It was my first contact with a progressive band ever! Dan Andrei Aldea, also called The orchestra-man, the frontman and the main composer really introduced the concept of progressive music in the band. We've got a splendid intro called Rasarit (translated Sunrise), than the album begins with the track Calatorul si copacul which is a little modest, but what follows is really and truerly progressive. Secolul Vitezei (Speed Century) and the excellent instrumental track Sinteze (Synthesis): remarkable is here the Moog sounds who are very clear and the drum section. Corneliu Bibi-Ionescu plays on Bib-synthesiser, designed by himself. Lume Alba (White World) is an excellent instrumental-electronic track very similar to anything from T.Dream. Muntele (The Mountain) is another great track, showing a band who really put the steps forward. There is speed in rhythms, harmony, great lyrics.... The album ends with Om bun (Kind Man), showing another face of the band. The flute and the voice of Aldea show a balladesque tone similar to some Camel compositions. Recommended for any progressive music lover!

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