After Crying - Bootleg Symphony

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Stereo KFT
Catalog Number: BGCD 080
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:01:00

As I'm sitting here listening to After Crying's latest release, the live Bootleg Symphony, two things come to mind. One, just how fantastic this band is, and two, how I came to like classical music. The first will become evident in a moment. The second, I'll just sketch by saying that when I was younger, up to about the age of 20 or so, I didn't find much interest in classical music. Such that I (and my sister) would groan when my dad would put something on. I'm sure there were many reasons why at the time, perhaps mostly because I was a kid that didn't want to be perceived as a "nerd" or a "geek." I was already thought to be one, being rotund, quiet, considerate, and ? smart. At least, I left people with that impression. Anyway, I wanted to fit in enough to stop being teased and harassed, so classical was definitely out. Now, my music tastes have expanded over the years, but it wasn't until a college English lit course that I discovered that classical wasn't so bad at all. To provide context for what we were reading, the professor, who also introduced me to Celtic history and Arthurian legend, played Handel's "Water Music." From there I discovered an appreciation for Mozart, among others (though hardly consider myself any kind of expert now). Oddly, I was just at this point discovering progressive rock (well, as a genre, as explained elsewhere on this site), and the correlation was immediately obvious.

So, here I am, 10 years or so beyond that, listening to a recording of After Crying playing with an orchestra at the Liszt Ferenc Academy Of Music in Budapest, Hungary. The irony isn't that I'm listening to classical music, it's that I am, at this moment, listening to classical music with my father. It wasn't until he passed positive comment on the band that I thought of the irony of it. Though, admittedly, this isn't exactly the first time it's happened.

Okay, so what about this release by After Crying? My only negative criticism is that it seems to have been recorded at a very low level. But, some of the powerful highs thus come across as too loud, especially as you have to have the volume up. Not really a bad thing of course, except for my hearing. I mean, it's something you want to play loud, something you want to share with your neighbors. But that aside, I love this. The performances all seem spot on, the vocalists have lovely voices, mainstay Gábor Légrádi sounding a lot like Greg Lake. Something I noticed, too, at NEARFest this year.

The music is, as usual, stunning. "Viaduct" reminded me very much of the work of John Williams, some passages hewing very closely to Williams' Star Wars soundtrack compositions. There is that same sense of vastness, of pulse pounding bombast, of heroism to the arrangement. You can hear the ELP influence in "Struggle For Life I." The highly rhythmic percussion has what might be called Native American overtones. At start and end there is some very lyrical and breathy piano, light and tinkly. "Struggle For Life II" is strident, as the band brings things closer to a rock context. Parts of King Crimson's "Great Deceiver" are included as well.

The next section includes "Suburban," composed by guitarist Ferenc Torma. It is a gentler piece, a sad, lonely trumpet telling its story, while drums and keyboards are way back in the mix, providing only colour and context. This leads into the piano piece "Cool Night" with vocals from Légrádi. There is a quiet repose here, though not quite melancholy. It is more reflective and thoughtful, the crisp piano notes truly evoking a slight chill. "Night-red" follows, dark tones suggesting something sinister. The brass section is throaty, electric guitar verily screams at one point like the hounds of hell are attacking their prey. "Night On Bald Mountain" came to mind (not the 70s disco version mind you). Again, like Williams though, there is that playing of theme against theme, as "Cool Night" returns as a reprise. The night is still as if nothing has happened.

In the third segment we get "Arrival of Manticore I (Symphonic version)", "Aqua," "Intermezzo" and "Burlesque" a quartet of pieces composed by keyboardist/trumpeter Bal´sz Winkler. "Burlesque," as you might expect, is a rather playful composition. Shades of "The Entertainer" but nothing that is a direct quote. At NEARfest this was played with both keyboardists on the same keyboard - though nothing is said here to indicate the same was done here, it seems that it would have been otherwise impossible to do so otherwise.

The album closes out with "Finale" - excerpts from "Big Evil Fun Fair Final" - and "Shinin'". The first is a cinematic quality, moody piece that features the full ensemble. Searing guitar, driving percussion, darkly warm cello and other strings, thundering keys? a tour de force of symphonic rock. One of those "dangerous to drive while playing" type songs. "Shinin'" starts out even darker, as a rich, robust cello opens, before trilling flute and breezy piano take over, accompanied by the lilting vocals of Judit Andrejszki - think Sylvia Erichson (White Willow) or, even more so, Sonia Nedelec (Minimum Vital). "Shinin'" is just that, a shimmering, fluttery, light tune -- think of a wide open field, the sun turning the grass golden, while a crystal-clear blue sky is high above. When trumpets and other brass come in, there is a slight medieval feel to it. As with almost everything here, there is a strong cinematic quality to the music -- though given my visual description, you may have guessed that.

Sure there maybe some minor flaws, but overall and taken as a whole, this is a wonderful live document. The audience is respectful, applauding only between tracks or sections, but then I have seen this tendency among prog and classical audiences anyway, so that isn't so remarkable. Other than volume, the mix on this is very, very good. The album flies by at too quick a pace, lasting less than hour. Knowing that this is an edited version of the performance, one wonders if there won't be a volume two down the road. Seek this one out.

I: Viaduct (6:00) / Struggle For Life I (5:23) / Enigma (1:15) / Struggle For Life II (3:15) / II: Suburban Night (3:19) / Cool Night (3:48) / Night-Red (3:24) / Cool Night Reprise (2:17) / III: Arrival Of Manticore I (2:28) / Aqua (2:01) / Intermezzo (2:39) / Burlesque (3:04) / IV: Finale (4:26) / Shinin? (11:37)

Gábor Egevaári - lyrics, narration
Tamas Görgenyi- artistic director, lyrics
Zoltán Lengyel- Steinway grand piano, Korg Trinity ProX, backing vocals
G´bor Legradi - lead vocals
Zsolt Madai - drums, percussion
Péter Pejtsik - cello, bass
Ferenc Torma - guitar, synthesizer
Bal´zs Winkler - trumpet, synthesizer, piano

Guests :

Judit Andrejszki - lead vocals
Kristof Fogolyan - flute
Pal Makovecz - trombone
Monika Szabo- flute
Laszlo Borsody - trumpet
Vilmos Horvath - bassoon
György Reé - clarinet
Zsofia Winkler- viola

Opus 1 (1989/2009)
1989 (1989/2009)
Overground Music (1990)
Megalázottak És Megszomorítottak (The Insulted and Injured) (1992)
Föld És Ég (Earth And Sky) (1994)
De Profundis (1996)
Elsõ Évtized (The First Decade) (1996)
After Crying 6 (1997)
Almost Pure Instrumental (1998)
Live - Struggle For Life (essential) (1CD) (2000)
Live - Struggle For Life> (2CD) (2000)
Bootleg Symphony (2001)
Show (2003)

Live (DVD) (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin HU

Added: July 10th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1437
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]