Tandem Records, 1996,
|During a recent InterNet chase for new listening material, I came across the name Zoltan Lantos. The deep cover source claimed he was fluent in many styles including classical, Jazz and Karnatik. My curiosity was aroused - could he be of Nedim Nalbantoglu's caliber, that Turkish monster fiddler whose two releases work overtime at yours truly?
Tower Records online listed two releases. The older solo outing arrived at my PO Box first, 1999's MirrorWorld is still outstanding. The prior "low inventory" flag suggests waiting could be in vain. But then, Tower's autosponder program keeps sending those nearly human notes. "Even though we haven't shipped your recent order yet, you will be pleased to know that..."
My past success rate with that program has been 50/50. Based on Zoltan's solo release, I keep hoping for the best. My usual virtual resources remain unusually tightlipped - the following biographical data are almost exclusively culled from the terse liner notes.
Zoltan holds a classical violin degree from the Budapest conservatory and later went to India on a scholarship where he spent 8.5 years immersing himself in classical Indian music. He participated in the Germany-based Ganpati trio and the London-based quartet OneTalk. He has participated with such global artists as Emam, Nicola Parov, Dhafer Youssef, Deepak Ram, László Farkas, Andras Berecz, John Wubbenhorst and Marta Sebestyen. End of story as far as I've been able to divine it.
About Eclipse, he has this to say: "... the recording was inspired by the wonderful acoustics of the Szenttamas Castle and the Greek Catholic Church of Vac. Most of the pieces consist of free music with little prepared material, and somehow reflect the same semi or total -- though temporary -- darkness in which I played them. Eclipses were always extraordinary events of great importance for most cultures... in my life 'Eclipse' means a 'time out', a short period of looking back and around: to my ears, it is 'intermediate music' that is influenced by the spirituality of classical Indian and other Eastern music, the freedom of Avantgarde Jazz and the harmony of early music. The various improvisations (not that I planned it) are bound together by a consistently reappearing 'Japanese-like' pentatonic scale..."
What succinctness. Zoltan is a poet as well and has published an entire book entitled "The Same Sea". Perhaps he should be writing this review?
The only other hard facts of note are the instruments he plays - a five-string violin on 3 tracks, a five-string Sarangini with sixteen sympathetic strings on 11 others, and a differently tuned Tarangini of equivalent makeup on another 3.
From the ghostly opening birdlike chirping and overtone glissandi to the following open-string bow-intensive arpeggio work with thematic dissonant key notes that are progressively deconstructed into their individual constituents, one quickly enters Zoltan's internalized space of darkness. To follow him along requires willingness to leave behind the solidity of expectations, of predigested easy fare. Don't even ask for the keys otherwise. However, properly purged by mental fasting and emotional purification, this hallucinatory excursion becomes a mostly benign trip that enjoys faint parallels with certain of L. Subramaniam's deep alaps. the freeform raga intros of Indian Classical music.
On "Akasha", the instrument sounds positively like a plucked Japanese koto, replete with the timbral bends and stylistic details - astounding, fascinating and hard to fathom how accomplished, with one register reserved for the koto and another for accompaniment.
"Marrakech Red" used a few real-time special effects for delay, parallel sustain and miniature loops and is a stunning meditation on a solitary Middle-Eastern motif, with the necessary drone made up of electronically enhanced hall reverberance.
Some of the tunes are more open-ended questions without answers. Others give answers without waiting for a preceding question - miniature meditations that, like their painterly eqivalents, contain an entire microcosm. To truly be appreciated and perceived, they have to be approached with the proper care, and perhaps even selectively.
When relished thus, the effects on one's psyche are not unlike meditation. Whether that's more a function of the music or one's single-minded focus is debatable. But does it matter? This music inspires such enterprises and is testament too to an obviously supremely talented musician about whom I hope to hear more shortly.