Budapest West - Letters From Afar

Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: BW8800
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:35:00

The all instrumental Letters From Afar is simply a divine mix of classical and progressive rock with some middle-eastern accents. Mainly, though, there is a European sensibility to the music, and that's where the classical elements come in. This American group, called Budapest West, move between these styles seamlessly, mixing light tinkling piano (Ray Hayden), taut percussion (Eric Montgomery), electric and acoustic guitar and mandolin (leader Rob Rigoni) and bassist Sid Anschell, all top notch musicians. While the opening track "Galatea" features crying guitar leads, the sweeter "In The Tents Of The Magyars" is more acoustic, and made me think of California Guitar Trio, as did the more "American" - i.e. mid-west -- sounding "Nabagon," with its touches of rolling piano, and twangy guitar. That isn't say that this doesn't also have its share of fiery guitar leads, it does, as evidenced by the wild, yet mature, soloing from Rigoni towards the end of the piece, or the metal-guitar fury in "Galatea." "Hungarian Song In Cm" is also all guitar lead, and a tasty one at that. "St. Augustine" has more a saucy jazz feel, with more piano - the only minus, and it's a very, very small one is, is that's there is a strange tone that often sounds like a saw heard from a distance.

Their most classical moment comes with the solo piano piece "Heceta Head," a lovely, yet sparse mellow instrumental. Of course, in there we hear quotes from Beethoven - maybe it's Bach. Anyway, the dramatic passage is recognizable even if, like me at this moment, you can't name it.

The production is crystalline - all the work of Rigoni, though the drums were co-engineered by Hayden -- which just makes for a sparkling, and beautiful, musical experience.

Galatea (5:18) / St. Augustine (3:54) / In The Tents Of The Magyars (5:15) / Hungarian Song In Cm (5:30) / Lime Kiln Dock (5:50) / Shark Reef (2:14) / Ocean Song (4:49) / Heceta Head (6:28) / Nabagon (4:07) / Cape Disappointment (4:07) / Night On The Volga (8:53)

Rob Rigoni - electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin
Ray Hayden - piano and keyboards
Eric Montgomery - drums & percussion
Sid Anschell - bass

Letters From Afar (2002)
Other Times, Other Places (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 16th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1460
Language: english


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