Bacillus 1976-1978 / MiG Music 2022
Hungarian explorers of aural continuum seize the moment of halcyon days to hit the celestial realm and explode into space.
“The past can not be found as some say,” sang this ensemble on "The Hall Of Floaters In The Sky" while observing tentative ways forward and finding sonic embodiment for temporal paradoxes they used to be so fond of. Though the Budapest proggers’ ’70s output may seem endearingly retrofuturistic today, the collective moved through that decade with flying colors, and once their contract with Bacillus got extended for another five years – based on the success of the band’s four prior platters on the German label – the quintet set about laying down two albums, one in the wake of another, which fathomed the passage of years and miles in the flights of fantasy. In tandem, “Time Robber” and “Skyrover” won the Western listener, selling in the millions and sealing the group’s fate.
The former work became their first whose songs hadn’t been previously released in Magyar and cut afresh in English; all the pieces on “Time Robber” were written specially for inclusion on the team’s 1976 opus and bound into a vague concept which would be arguably more pronounced when the ensemble recorded it again as “Időrabló” in their native tongue. However, the cosmic story doesn’t matter much here, because the album’s title track, bookended by two parts of “House Of Cards” and tied into an epic tapestry, takes fellow travelers on a riveting trip towards strange adventures, the intrepid instrumental interplay growing in scope from crystalline, where six-string strum comes across gossamer synthesizers and the barely-there voice, to caress-esque spaced-out to muscularly funky and back to ethereal, to suck the aural spectator in and let go only after the last notes of the majestically histrionic, solemn, organ-grounded “Late Night Show” are dissolved in silent darkness. Unsurprisingly, then, the second number on offer is the heavily galloping, infectious “Invitation” that marries the hoofbeats of Ferenc Debreceni’s toms to György Molnár’s guitar riffs, followed closely by the nicely nuanced cosmic expanse of “Don’t Keep Me Waitin'” that’s tethered to Tamas Mihaly’s bass before Janos Kóbor’s pipes and Lásló Benkö’s ivories engage in the glam of “An Accountant’s Dream” that gets high on the jovial groove.
This solid levity would also highlight the sci-fi-informed flow of 1978’s “Skyrover” – beginning with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 which drives the magnificent “Overture” and ending with, well, “Final” which is spellbinding in a classical way. As a result, the album’s piano-laden titular composition turns its faux symphony and half-spoken lyrics into a camp performance of the finest dramatic standards until the folk-infused “Russian Winter” punches its playful rhythm and balalaika-like filigree into the platter’s effervescent drift – only for “The Lost Prophet” to return the focus to theatrical, art-rock harmonies. Yet if these soar rather unhurriedly, “Metamorphosis” introduces a hectic swirl of glittering licks that rollick on the dancefloor with a lot of gusto, clearing the air for the romantic ballad “Purple Lady” and the insistent roll of “High On The Starway” – all scintillating and bouncy. And then there’s the relentless “The Hope, The Bread And The Wine” to bring the guilty-pleasure sort of reserved bombast to the table – reserved and relaxed, too, to an extent of the ensemble not caring about recording new instrumental tracks for these songs’ Hungarian versions later on and simply overdubbing new vocals to release on the “Csillagok Útján” LP in their homeland.
This kind of attitude demonstrates how aware of their new status the Budapest ensemble were – high and mighty not in terms of arrogance but in the literal sense.