Vol 2, No 11
20 March 2000
M U S I C:
World Music at Play
Egy Kiss Erzsi Zene
Andrew James Horton
Whilst Egy Kiss Erzsi Zene's eclectic blend of ethnic musical influences have an enthusiastic following in their native Hungary, their international profile is far lower, with just a few appearances in the Czech Republic and Croatia to their name and their music adorning the soundtrack to a film by leading Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó. Recently though, ReR Megacorp, a UK-based international distributor of all manner of wonderfully obscure and hard-to-get music, started distributing the band's eponymous 1998 album (their first and only to date) - and apparently the CD is selling like hot cakes.
The band's monicker is derived from their lead singer, Erzsi Kiss, translating as "Erzsi Kiss Music." It's a name which has a humble simplicity and yet is audacious in that it seems to be aiming to define a new style of music (even if one that will be played by them) as much as the formal entity this particular grouping of musicians constitutes. And to a large degree they are successful in this, marking out musical territory which is quite distinctly theirs. As well as labelling this Erzsi Kiss Music, they also describe it as a kind of "virtual world music" in its use of global influences to create a sound which is ethnic, but doesn't have its roots in any one country.
Kiss was led to form the group in 1996 after a period of more than a decade in the theatre, in which time she studied African and Asian folk songs. The band provides a mature synthesis of diverse influences, and one that shows a deep intuitive musical understanding. But for all this the music is far from a po-faced academic exercise and the music exudes a sense of seriously good childhood fun, emphasised in the child-like drawings for album's artwork.
As such it is interesting to ask why their music has taken this long to escape Hungary's national borders. Their first album clearly shows they are a formidable musical force with great potential for international success, almost by definition of their wide-ranging influences. All that remains to be seen now is whether they can back up this success with more music which continues to challenge and surprise.
Andrew James Horton, 27 March 2000
Visit the Bahia Music website and listen to the music of Egy Kiss Erzsi Zene
International readers can order Egy Kiss Erzsi Zene's album from ReR Megacorp while stocks last.
Copyright © 2000 - Central Europe Review and Internet servis, a.s.
All Rights Reserved