Turns out that one of the products of communist Hungary during the '70s was an amazing selection of psychedelic rock bands. Who knew? Well, clearly the folks at Finders Keepers have been in on this for a while, because they cottoned on to the alluring wigouts of Sarolta Zalatnay a while back, reissuing her eponymous LP to glowing reviews a good twenty-five years or so after its original release. As this album demonstrates, Zalatnay was by no means a one-off. Artists like Kati Kovacs, and bands such as Skorpios and Piramis were all experimenting with adventurous, prog-tinged funk rock. However, if there's one thing to be learned from this compilation, it's that the Hungarian scene of the '70s was far from a single, unfragmented movement, and within this community of performers you'll hear music that ranges from the protracted far-outness of Omega's experimental epic ' to the knockabout, goodtime glam boogie of Meteor & Demjen Ferenc's 'Kivánj Te Is Nekem Szép, Jó Éjszakát'. The weighty and authoritative booklet (with an intro written by Ms. Zalatnay, no less) adds a necessary air of rigour and context to the compilation, which otherwise could easily have come across as a bit of a novelty item. Awesome. (source)
B-Music break yet more ground with 22 stomping selections from the vaults of Eastern Europe's best kept secret, Hungaraton / Qualiton Records. This first ever compendium piles heavy psych, jazz, glam and funk onto a heaped spoonful dripping with the cream of the 60s/70s Hungarian rock scene - Omega, Metro, Locomotiv GT, Skorpio as well as B-Music's very own jet-set fit-bit Sarolta Zalatnay.
The unique ways in which Hungarian rockers interpreted such sporadic and disparate influences and unknowingly mirrored embryonic developments in Western rock from behind a political blindfold is truly unique. The national pride of Hungary's pre-war musical heritage ensured that the state-owned label Supraphon's in-house studio was designed to immaculate classical standards with acoustic specifications that would put its surrounding Eastern European labels to shame. The quality of phonograph records, from a part of the world that was usually notorious for low quality pressings and repeatedly recycled vinyl, would surpass the European standards ensuring that the hand crafted sound of Hungary's futuristic pop music was light years ahead of its time and would stand the test of time for many (delayed) years to come.
The introduction of electronic instruments penetrated Hungary like a double-edged sword and polarised progressive pop aficionados over night. Where the introduction of Czechoslovakian electric guitars unified Eastern Europe's rock 'n' roll fantasists and spawned the rock in opposition movement in the mid 60's the spurious arrival of synthesizers ten years later spawned a host of new streams of hybrid rock which embraced funk, soul and disco.
The restrictions of communism coupled with the silver-spooned Westerners musical xenophobia, however, as good as guaranteed that no matter how close Hungarians got to the authentic rock 'n roll sound their music would still never safely make the journey over the language barrier. In recent years, as much as 15 years since the collapse of the iron curtain, the interjection of many forms of latter day communist era art into popular western culture has become apparent and increasingly well documented. Hopefully at some stage discerning palettes will develop a taste for Hungarian rock music in the same way that we have come to accept, champion and be inspired by Polish poster art and Czech cinema.