Julia Karosi is a Hungarian vocalist and composer who, in this set, leads her group through sparkling music steeped in the traditions of her country's folk music and two of its most prominent 20th century composers, Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly. She interprets the work of both men as well as playing her own original music.
Karosi largely sings wordlessly on this disc, her clear, soprano voice whirling and soaring over the electric soundscapes of Ben Monder's guitar and the busy accompaniment of pianist Aron Talas, bassist Ádám Bögöthy and drummer Bendeguz VARGA. All five work together nicely on Kodaly's "Epigrams No. 7, 8." Talas alternates between rippling lines and dramatic chords, Monder adds billowing coloration and Karosi flies free on top. As for Bartok, "Hommage a Bela Bartok" is actually seven of the composer's themes strung together into a long medley. It begins with spoken Hungarian and whirring guitar noise on "Bluebeard's Castle Prologue" and goes through some of Bartok's "Mikrokosmos" pieces and other compositions, featuring passages of bending guitar lines and slow piano progressions. It all ends up with "Mikrokosmos IV." Talas and the rhythm section move along in brisk jazz time while an anxious piano solo and heavy rock guitar flare up. Karosi's voice continually weaves above, below and through the changing moods of all these themes, swooping and darting like a restless ghost.
Karosi's original compositions use an array of lively approaches. On 'Without Dimensions" Monder's grinding noise gives way to a playful piano and voice melody, while on "Rebirth" Talas and Karosi trace out a frisky dance line. "Insomnia" has Karosi's voice running liltingly over dreamy piano lines then sliding into a slippery groove with the entire trio. Bogothy gets a nice, drifting bass solo here. "Words and Beyond" is a three-part exercise in vocal improvisation over music that shifts from ethereal solo piano into muscular trio movement and back to a slower and heavier pace, Karosi's voice melts over the instrumental action hauntingly. Monder returns on "Madeline Moment," creating a looping spiderweb of strummed guitar lines behind Karosi's high moans before the piano trio quietly comes in at a deliberate tempo that brings definition to the wispy guitar and voice lines, and spurs Karosi and Monder onto higher and louder efforts.
This music is an atmospheric collection of folk-infused melodies that alternate between the dreamy and the driving and are given soul and emotion through Julia Karosi's vocal acrobatics. It is a striking piece of work.
Without Dimensions; Rebirth; Epigrams No. 7, 8; "Only from the purest source" Hommage a Bela Bartok:
Bluebeard's Castle Prologue; Mikrokosmos III, No. 92; Romanian Folk Dances No. 3; Outro For Romanian
Folk Dances No. 3; Sorrow; Mikrokosmos IV, No. 115; Mikkrokosmos IV, No. 113; Insomnia; Words and
Beyond Parts 1-3; Madeleine Moment.
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