Jan 102012

I listened to a lot of albums in 2011, most of them new releases. I made mental lists and written lists of the ones I wanted to review, not because I think I’m particularly good at it, but because I want to do my part to help spread the word about music I admire and to support good bands so they’ll continue making music that makes me happy ( yes, it all comes down to selfishness in the end).

Of course, I fell down on the job miserably. I just didn’t get around to reviewing everything I wanted to praise in 2011. With the new year under way, I know that psychologically I’ll feel motivated to focus on new releases this year instead of trying to catch up on writing about 2011 albums.  But if I never write about another 2011 album, there’s one I cannot leave unheralded — Rengeteg.

If this 2011 album from Thy Catafalque consisted of the 9 minutes and 20 seconds of “Fekete mezők” and 51 minutes of mind-numbing elevator music, I would still be happy. “Fekete mezők” is one of my favorite songs of the year. But that song is just the beginning of an album’s worth of musical marvels — and no two of them are alike.

The songs flow into each other without pause, pulling the listener along with them as they cross a constantly changing landscape of sounds and emotions. The idea of crossing a landscape isn’t just the feeling conjured by the movement of the music. It also emerges from the lyrics.

The words are in Hungarian, but they’ve recently become available in English translations, and I found them interesting to read while listening to the album (for the umpteenth time). If there’s a concept I can discern, it is one about the unity of life and matter, about the connectedness of human beings to the Earth, and more than the Earth, to the star-spawned matter of which we and it are made. Continue reading »