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Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Hungarian Music

Album Notes

Performers include: Muzsikas, Kalyi Jag, The Transsylvanians, Romano Drom, Zoltan Juhasz, Fekete Vonat, Iren Lovasz, Ghymes, Tukros Ensemble, Okros Ensemble, Kampec Dolores, Sebo Ensemble, Bogyiszlo, Vujicsics, Mihaly Halmagyi, Zsigmond Szekely, Ferenc Santa.

With a population less than the size of greater New York, Hungary has produced a remarkably wide variety of music. While Marta Sebestyen and Muzikas (represented here) are probably the country's best-known musical export, there's plenty more worth hearing, not just the remarkable traditional tanchaz dance music of the Ökrös Ensemble, but gypsy and regional traditions, which remain very potent, with Zoltán Juhasz and Mihály Halmágyi prime examples, the latter with some wonderful dance music. But there's plenty of room for the modernists, too. Romano Drom offer the contemporary end of the Rom Gypsy tradition, and they're remixed to great effect by Emil on their track. The Transylvanians seem to be very ethno-punk, with "Akasztós" sounding as if "Anarchy in the UK" had traveled to the Balkans. Kalyi Jag would seem to be strongly influenced by Dylan and Springsteen, while keeping their central European roots intact, while Fekete Vonant offer a sort of Gypsy rap that's not quite rap at all, but co-exists in the same neighborhood. Overall, incredible music and playing, and a chance to explore the many tangled strands of music that make up Hungary. ~ Chris Nickson


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