Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Tibor Szemző - Snapshot From The Island (1987/98)

First album by Hungarian composer Tibor Szemző (b. 1955, Budapest), which drew together three of his works for flute and electronics.  The 24-minute title track is up first, with the echoing bass flute on its own before a loping rhythm track starts to underpin it.  There's a little oasis of calm about halfway through with just sonorous vocal sounds and ambient noise accompanying the flute reverberations, before the rhythm picks up again towards the end.

Water-Wonder for flutes and tape delay is next, and on the CD version the original 1986 recording appears to have been swapped out for a 1998 one, and gains an extra 2 minutes on the LP's 14 and a half.  I'd imagine this doesn't matter all that much what with it being the most straightfoward composed work on the album - in fact, it dates back to 1982, and was first recorded (in shortened form) for Szemző's Group 180 ensemble on their 1983 debut.  A couple of Group 180's releases showed their interest in Steve Reich's music, and you could perhaps think of Water-Wonder as a 'Flute Phase' of sorts.

That leaves Let's Go Out And Dance, a 1985 work written for "shadowplay" theatre - if you're of a certain age like me, this might immediately evoke images of The Dude's neighbour performing his interpretive dance piece, but musically it's another bucolic island snapshot like the first track.  A gently droning synth and quietly puttering rhythm track are the backing here for the absolutely gorgeous flute melodies - I think this might be my favourite of the three tracks.  This album sometimes draws comparisons to Florian Schneider's early flute work, had Kraftwerk started a decade later, but atmospherically I'd say it more evokes Can's Future Days in languid loveliness.  Recommended.
original LP cover



  1. If you don't know his 'Tractatus' on Leo Records, it's a must. Saw it live in London many years ago: spellbinding!

  2. beautiful stuff - I do have the Group 180 debut but this is something else.

  3. great share - thanks!