Friday, October 10, 2014

Syrius - 1976 - Szettort Almok

Szettort almok 

01. Hajnali Ének (3:48)
02. Hol Az Az Ember (3:49)
03. Mint Április (3:05)
04. A Láz (3:35)
05. Széttört Álmok (4:26)
06. Kinyújtom Kezem (5:36)
07. Hová Mehetnék (3:12)
08. Igen, Szép Volt (6:19)
09. Széparcú Idegen (5:57)

- András Veszelinov / vocals, drums
- Tibor Tátrai / guitar
- Endre Sipos / bass guitar
- Károly Friedrich / vocals, bass guitar
- Tamás Turai / vocals, percussion
- Ottó Schöck / vocals, Fender Rhodes Piano, organ
- Miklós Siliga / baritone saxophone
- Ákos Molnár / vocals, soprano and alto saxophone
- László Dés / tenor saxophone
- Zsolt Baronits / tenor saxophone
- Károly Friedrich / trombone
- László Gööz / trombone
- Endre Sipos / trumpet
- Rudolf Tomsits / trumpet

Syrius was a hungarian progressive jazz-rock band that was founded in 1962 by tenor saxophonist Baronits Zsolt. Their debut album Devil’s masquerade was released first in Australia in 1971 and a year later in Hungary under a name Az Ördög álarcosbálja. From 1970 to 1973 they were considered to be the most unique prog rock band in Hungary and one of the best from the whole Europe. Their second album Széttört álmok (Broken dreams) was released in 1976 and it was kind of reflecting the bands faith within its name. Only two members were left from the strong first album line-up and instead of the five players in Devil’s masquerade, there was total 15 musicians playing in this second album. It was not considered to be as good as the first one by Baronits Zsolt and he disbanded the band shortly after in 1977.

Despite being considered as a minor disappointment by Zsolt, I think this second album is more funky and grooving than the first album. There’s plenty of breaks and beats in addition to the jazz-rock fusion groove they got. Tracks vary from downtempo funky fusion jams like “Hol az az ember” (Where Is The Man) to ballads and uptempo funk-rock tracks. “A láz” (The Fever) is an uptempo funky fusion song with breaks and slightly disturbing rock guitars made famous by the late break dj Leacy. “Kinyújtom kezem” (I’m streching out my arms) starts with a break ja continues as a nice funky uptempo number with another long break in the middle. Title track “Széttört álmok” (Broken dreams) is a midtempo funk track with a break, guitars and some percussion work. Széttört álmok is one of the best albums that ever came out from the Hungarian national record company Pepita.

Syrius - 1972 - Az ördög álarcosbálja (Devil's Masquerade)

Az ördög álarcosbálja (Devil's Masquerade)

01. Concerto for a Three-Strigned Violon and Five Mugs of Beer - Koncert háromhúros hegedűre és öt korsó sörre (2:38)
02. Crooked Man - Hitvány ember (6:55)
03. I've Been This Down Before - Voltam már azelőtt. (4:27)
04. Devil's Masquerade - Az ördög álarcosbálja (5:34)
05. Psychomania (5:44)
06. Observations of an Honest Man - Egy becsületes ember észrevételei (1:46)
07. In the Bosom of a Shout - Egy kiáltás méhében (8:53)

- Zsolt Baronits / alto and tenor saxophone, vocals
- Miklós Orszáczky / vocals, bass, violin, acoustic guitar
- László Pataki / piano, organ
- Mihály Ráduly / alto and tenor saxophone , flute, piccolo
- András Veszelinov / drums, vocals

This is a pretty special album to say the least. Hungarian beat band Syrius originally formed back in 62 and then metamorphosed with the times and the changing currents adopting a powerful melodic jazz rock approach. Even so, the time spent playing together as a band all through the 60s shows almost immediately, when you pop this mother on.

The Devil's Masquerade was actually recorded in Australia, where the band had received a record deal, which to my knowledge is why they decided to sing in English, but don't take my word for it though... Speaking of those vocals, the 60s sound is all over them, and this listener feels instantly warm and taken aback by the sheer soul and chocolate power there is to them. For lack of a better picture, then imagine a white version of Otis Redding, albeit with a slightly heftier backing band. Yeah erm - perhaps backing band is the wrong wording here, because it feels much more like a full frontal attack with heavy based organ work, tip toeing Aristocats piano, manic saxophone sprees - often recalling the more angular Canterburian work, along with a butter-churning funky rhythm section, that will have you out of breath and lying on the floor like a salmon out of water.

There's that early 70s experimental feel to it as well - especially in some of the saxophone parts here, you get sudden bursts of unbridled free-jazz inching its way through the orchestrated wilderness. Still you never loose focus - you're still infatuated by warm and vibrant melody lines, that for some reason always seem a bit hidden beneath these mad interventions - either emanating from the aforementioned sax or an altogether preposterous sounding flute. The melodies are omnipresent often delivered by the soulful piano man, who are as prone to run wildly about on organic fusioneros runs going a hundred miles an hour - or just strolling casually along to these cool jazz Aristocats' chords, that really speak to the feline in me.

It's sexy, cacophonous, soulful, funky, at times ominous - but never dull or uninspired. Jazz with its pants down so to speak... I can understand why this album only has received masterpiece ratings before my review - I really can. Most of all, because I can relate to the kind of music on offer - the way it makes me feel, the warmth and vigour it's delivered with, but mostly because it just jives, bounces, funks, rocks and bleeds all over your living room floor like some kind of welcomed vagabond. With all the twists and turns, it really should radiate more of a schooled snobbish expression, but just like Zappa did with his musical ventures - these guys are able to take it to the streets - right down in the gutter and make it infinitely more earthy and frivolous. I really like that about 'em.

One thing that has got me puzzled slightly though, is the fact that I seem to know some of these melodies beforehand. I'm not suggesting that we're talking rip-offs, no no - I actually have a pretty good listening memory, and have always been able to spot where musical themes are lifted from, if such is the case, - but here with Devil's Masquerade the music just feels like an old friend shaking hands with you - like you instantly know the shake, the bake, the whole register of emotions associated with the experience, and yet you will constantly be facing new facets within the tracks - suddenly popping up within 60s inspired soul choruses you get the odd sax toots or a complete turn around making the music shift course and then go in a completely different direction. Still feels melodic and right at home though, which is one of this album's biggest attributes: the somewhat open and welcoming atmosphere it conjures up transcribes to the music itself. Everything seems to fit whether it be the Canterbury snippets on top of the free-jazz vortex, or the musical themes with a devout soul music shadow intrusion, it's all good and I just love it!

So, do you consider yourself a fan of 70s Zappa, Canterbury, Nine Days' Wonder - or just music you can seduce your friendly neighbourhood tomcat with? Then, I swear to you on my mother's diving suit, - this Australian produced Hungarian is a safe bet. It certainly has got me dancing the bop.