Back with their seventh album Hungarian folk duo Ágnes Tóth and Mihály Szabó are here to provide something a bit more mellow in these savage times and dip back into the past with legends and fairy-tales of yore. Not that you should expect a trip back to happy-clappy never-never land, we all have to grow up and these tinker-bells certainly taint their tales with an overlying darkness and pagan rites that have an aura of danger about them. Like the classics of Grimm, the sylvan woods we find ourselves lost in can be hostile environments and here we have more of an emphasis on Szabó’s beastly aura as his vocals are emphasised around the siren charms and beguiling spell of Tóth’s more angelic call.
Rich and varied, this is an enchanting follow-up to 2017 release ‘Metanoia’ and an album that is definitely focused towards the dreamers and those who like letting their imagination flow with the music. Naturally you need to pay attention otherwise its charms will flow over you but that’s kind of OK too, the relaxational qualities of it all are there to be absorbed as well. The title track delicately takes form and the neo-classicism is obvious from the start as a piano and dulcimer notes put a spell on your ears. As usual there are plenty of instruments employed far from standard rock band fare such as harp, kalimba and earthy and subtle percussive nuances, the combination of which obviously giving it all the vibe of world music. Vocals are very contrasted here, both forms rising with the music and giving everything heft, bellows from him and crooning, floaty delicacy from her. Although not wild, it is not far off as it reaches a fevered heat leaving you wiping your brow and trying to work out all the sounds you are experiencing. Yes, there is tweeting birdsong in this mystic place and Tóth’s witchy call comes from the same sort of place the ever-popular Lindy Fay Hella calls home as well as artists such as Dead Can Dance, Autumn Tears and Rain Fell Within. The dulcimer weaves in place of guitar over songs such as Kaputlan Kapukon Át and if the title leaves you with questions ‘Through Gateless Gates” is the somewhat strange place we are taken; perhaps crossing from one veil to another. Beatific calls follow from Szabó whereas proper delicate verse is babbled from Tóth, both working in perfect harmony.
The twang of a jaw harp and clack of what could be castanets or rattle of maraca entrances on ‘Égi Messzeségek’ as well as weeping strings. Obviously, our muses here are constantly building up layers of instrumentation and it is half the fun working out what they are using amidst their songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is a didgeridoo in there somewhere and the flavours take you all over the world which is very welcome as obvious boundaries presently make travelling anywhere at the moment impossible. Also working in symmetry are expressive feelings of joy and sorrow, a song such as ‘Logos’ takes from sunlight to shade and there is an air of sombreness to be found amidst the soft and sinister lugubrious flow, Tóth’s whispering parts sending a shiver down the spine and making you look around in case something is creeping up behind you. ‘A Mindenség Hívása’ is The Call Of The Universe and like it the music is full of wonders and it will unveil more to you on successive plays. Perfectly playing out over 40-minutes ‘Aether’ is a gorgeous listening experience and with its fantastical cover art paints a very rich picture. The album is also available in an extended version with remix and live tracks on a second disc.
(8/10 Pete Woods)