Mindflowers - Improgressive - 2002
“Improgressive” is the debut album of the band Mindflowers from Hungary (so don’t confuse them with the Italian band with the same name). The first four minutes of this CD are a showcase of the high quality progressive/symphonic jazz-rock the four excellent musicians of this band have to offer. Next to the mix of ingredients mentioned, they sometimes add a pinch of metal to their appetizing compositions, to give it all even more body.
By the looks of their pictures on the CD booklet most members of the band seem quite young, which strengthens my appreciation for their compositions and craftsmanship. Responsible for most of the compositions is Balász Szendöfi who plays basses and sticks, among which a 7-strings bass created by his father and a 12-string Grand Tapboard. Zoltán Szentpál plays guitars, Zsolt Nagy (whose nickname “Liszt”is well deserved) takes care of the keyboards and Gergely Gáspár does an excellent job on drums. As already mentioned I think all musicians of this band are very good, but the drummer draws my special attention every time I listen to the 9 tracks on the album. Guests musicians participate on electric and acoustic guitars, stick, percussion and violin.
The opening track “Red spider” (8:18) is a typical jazz-rock piece that shows the metal flavor that is added to some of the compositions. All main instruments get a chance in this piece, from stick to piano, synthesizer and guitar. And of course the excellent drumming. After about three minutes the tempo falls back to make room for a more easy played electric guitar theme. At this point I get some associations with the work of Bill Bruford, maybe because of the drumming, although it is not as tight as the drumming of Bill. Changing time signatures and fast solos, it is all there, but, and this counts for all compositions, things never get freaky.
“Falling” (5:46) is a pleasant more floating and ballad-like piece, with electric piano in the opening bars followed by the main theme played by electric guitar. The floating character comes from the accompaniment of acoustic guitars and string synthesizers and the more relaxed but typical jazzy drumming. The second half of this track features a very pleasant jazz and bass guitar duet with later on some piano notes before the main guitar theme is being repeated. The song finishes with solely acoustic guitars. “Sick spirit” (4:50), the third track of the album, is again a piece that features some heavy guitar riffs accompanying a nice synth theme. Next to electric guitar the synth plays a large role in this piece, as does the piano. The song finishes rather bombastic with nice keyboards. A pity it doesn’t last some more minutes.
“Why?” (1:51) is a short atmospheric bass-piano duet with nice keys in the background and is followed by the in all means contrasting “Why not?” (5:07). A more rocking theme and aggressive guitar chords are the main ingredients for this piece. Sparkling piano and stick play in the first half, in the second part a more dark and threatening atmosphere. “Crying skies” (7:01) is a resting point after this heavy stuff. A beautiful piece with a floating atmosphere, thanks to the “rainmaker” and a repeating theme played by stick. Later on the guitar chords accompanying the piano take care of the floating character. Again very nice jazz guitar play. Track 7 “Knowing the path” (7:01) is more up-tempo and opens with the theme played by a cell phone. What follows is a guitar rock piece with a nice theme, very good piano accompaniment and a nice bass and organ solo The rather heavy guitar solo in this work transforms nicely in a synthesizer solo. Track 8 “Flo’s kisses” (4:28) is a more or less easy traditional jazz composition where the melody is played on violin accompanied by acoustic guitar. Rather different from the rest, apart from the large role for the bass, but illustrative for the musical talent of this band.
The concluding long piece “Talk with myself” (22:37) really needs no review, because it is (in a positive sense) more of the same, although I find the overall composition slightly less excellent…… In the last part of this epic work Balász Szendöfi shows his in many aspects leading role for the last time, with a nice bass solo guided by atmospheric keyboards.
An excellent debut of a promising band. Strong, varied and versatile compositions, excellent musicianship and a good production. I’m very much looking forward to their next work.