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June 5, 2008

The Greatest Hungarian Band You've Never Heard Of

Omega-Header.jpg
I don't know how many Hungarian bands you are into right now, but most likely they don't have the hits or the history of Omega. Okay, to be fair, I couldn't name you a single Hungarian ANYTHING before I actually went there in 2004 with a group of artists from Portland. We toured a number of European cities and, when we could, Matthew Yake and I searched out record stores and lost sounds.

In Budapest we stumbled upon Lemez Dokk, a little record shop specializing in Prog and Jazz. The guys there were very friendly and in their broken English explained the qualities of records with words like "Heavy" "Beat" and "Progresseev." It was there that they played us a handful of albums by Omega and our collective American faces were melted. Matthew picked up 2 or 3 of their early albums (as well as some other Romanian and Hungarian psych stuff), but at 20 bucks a pop I was satisfied buying Aranyalbum, a collection of songs from 1969-1971, for around 8. It is now one of my favorite records and one that I love to share with collector friends.

Below are two of my favorite tracks, but almost every song on the collection is killer. It was difficult to pick only two.

The first, "Egy Lany Nem Ment Haza" is full of fuzz guitar, reverb, echo- all the components of great psych. I like that I can't understand the lyrics, the dude's voice becomes just another texture in this monster track.

OMEGA- EGY LANY NEM MENT HAZA (Girl Hasn't Gone Home)
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This second track is like little else. It was a huge hit internationally and has been covered a few times (including in 1995 by Scorpions??? with new (lame) lyrics and entitled "White Dove"). It begins with a slow build which is powerful and beautiful at the same time. By the end, it's a full-blown inferno. This is one of my favorite tracks of all time.

OMEGA- GYONGYHAJU LANY (Girl With Pearls In Her Hair)
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Omega has played together since 1962 and they continue to tour and record. They enjoyed immense popularity inside as well as outside their country. Formed in the dark days of Communist rule I believe they left Hungary for Germany at some point so they could record their music without the censorship of the communist Song Committee. Over their history Omega recorded in styles as disparate as folk, prog and disco, but it is their early Psych/Prog/Folk where they really shine. Check out their homepage at www.omega.hu and you can stream all of their records (click diszkografia and then studioalbumok). I would focus on the first few, especially 10000 Lepes.

Posted by matt at June 5, 2008 11:25 AM

Comments

You traveled with Paige Saez, our ultimate blogger 3 opponent?!?!

Posted by: george at June 5, 2008 11:38 AM

Yep. And Gabriel Mindel Salomon, one half of Yellow Swans. It was an All-Star crew.

Posted by: matt at June 5, 2008 12:33 PM

I just reloaded louder versions of the songs. Still getting a hang of the whole audio sharing thing.

Posted by: Matt at June 5, 2008 1:02 PM

Matt, your Silver Apples CD is still in my CD player. Sorry!

Regarding the Magyar rock group (Omagya?), the first track's quite memorable (from when you played it for me a couple years ago) for its fuzz guitar, drum beat, distinctive lead vocal, and is that a keyboard or a cheesy accordian filling in? Either way, it's a great sound. The Bo Diddley break (RIP Bo) with syncopated guitar, jungle drums, and handclaps is pretty cool. I'm not thrilled about the corny trumpet, but otherwise this is great. Thanks for sharing.

The second track's pretty and I know what you mean about the ending (it's a slightly more intense than the preceding music, what with the drum rolls and wailing.) But I have way higher expectations from the words "full blown inferno." Maybe more hoarseness to the wailing voice and all musicians playing the instruments way louder and the drummer really cutting loose and going nuts then would have helped create some real fire. I mean, it's nice, but the end really doesn't build that much beyond the way they play the chorus during the earlier parts of the song.

Your audio sharing sounds good and loud to me. Keep it up!

Posted by: tom shannon at June 6, 2008 12:47 PM

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