Exposé Online banner

Sfinx — Zalmoxe
(Electrecord ELCD 135, 1979/1993, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-02-01

Zalmoxe Cover artThis one caught me completely off guard. I'd never even heard of this excellent Romanian band before the CD reissue - which made it for all the nicer surprise. One has to be somewhat impressed when encountering a prog band from the late seventies that sounds nothing even remotely like ELP, Genesis, Yes, or Floyd, or for that matter any of the other well known bands that had gone before them - in fact they sound like no one else. At moments, remote comparisons might be made are to Czech band Progres 2, Minimum Vital, or Eloy, but truly these guys had a sound of their own. Their sound is dramatic and melodic, with keyboards prominent - yet this is not a band where the keyboardist does everything and the other members are relegated to a support role - the entire band plays together well in all areas of the mix, in lead and supporting roles at various times. The guitars are surgically applied, either as solos or as an extended function of the rhythm section. The band has some great vocal arrangememts and harmonies, yet only one member (guitarist Dan Andrei Aldea) is credited as vocalist... All the song lyrics are sung in the band's native language. Each track involves extended arrangements and many changes, but it's interesting to note that few of the songs exceed the five minute mark - but many are strung together into near-sidelong suites. Drummer Mihai Cernea is the one band member who seems able to control the overall energy at any given moment, knowing exactly when to play exactly how - and when not to play at all, he guides the music through symphonic meadows to rocking peaks, ocasionally crossing points of accessibility. Together with bassist Corneliu Ionescu, they keep a tight rein on the overall dynamics, while keyboardist Nicolae Enache creates a variable density wall of sound, sometimes with the backing vocal harmonies as support. Lead parts are handled by synth, guitar, or vocals, presumably all handled by Aldea. All taken together, Zalmoxe is a forceful album, full of great surprises and stunning moods. There are four bonus tracks added for the CD reissue; these (with the notable exception of the first) are generally more commercial sounding - possibly singles from another period, and would have made the flow of the CD just a little better had they not been included.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 2, 1993 releases, 1979 recordings

Related artist(s): Sfinx

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Orbit Service - Twilight – Here we are adrift in a sea of melancholy. Or maybe a better metaphor would be floating in orbit. There are lots of nice textures and rich sounds on this recording, the Denver band’s second, and...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues