Exposé Online banner

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

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-02-01

Zalmoxe Cover art

This 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 70s 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

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Zweistein - Trip – Flip Out – Meditation – According to the liner notes, in 1970 Jacques Dorian, his wife German pop singer Suzanne Doucet, and their children entered the studio and recorded an obscure experimental triple LP under the name...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues