Life Is A Journey review

Basking in the sun and seeping a sea air, international team gets the best of un-expectancy.

Gone are the days when Steve Hackett was a guest of this Hungarian ensemble; the Englishman’s guitar has long become an integral fiber in the collective texture. He not only recorded but also toured with them, and it’s after the release of the collaborative live document that the idea came about of preserving studio improvisations for posterity. Laid down in the inspirational surroundings of Sardinian church, the resulting tapes – yes, tapes, as the band went all analog for the sessions – don’t project a lot of immediacy, though, as the eleven compositions which ended up on the album are elaborate, if easy on the ear, with many a layer woven into a single piece.

Lucid like the locale’s air, the quintet’s high-octane fusion is full of joie de vivre, the record’s title track reaching for eternal serenity once six-string steps measure the meander and depth of Tamás Barabás’ bass, and breezy brass licks bring on the blissful vocal refrain, while the nocturnal vibe of “Castelsardo At Night” evokes benevolent specters for a quiet dance. Dense and energetic in “Building A Nuraghe” where handclaps propel instruments towards climactic echo or exquisitely transparent in “Beams Over The Nulvi Mountains” which is mesmerizing in a mirage manner, the group’s delivery doesn’t stop to fascinate, and DVD part of the package, with a surround mix and a fragment of a concert, adds to the majestic ride.

Throughout, Mediterranean melodies are spiced up with gripping, if relaxed, harmonies which either get ruffled with occasional riff, go for a blitz, or surge in a way a tidal wave would to make tunes such as “Golden Sand” melt into the listener’s soul – or take them on an adventurous cruise using the ever-shifting “Around My Mind” as a vehicle. The quintessence of it all is “Buzzy Island”: an intense, sinewy, infectious spurt of subtropical emotions which the bubbling “Wake Up” boils to the festive point to drive funk from Áron Koós-Hutás’ trumpet beyond the horizon. Think about two meaning of “insular” to get transported there.

Dmitry M. Epstein

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