FAME Review: Júlia Karosi - Hidden Roots
Júlia Karosi - Hidden Roots

Hidden Roots

Júlia Karosi

Dot Time Records - DT9028

Available from Dot Time Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Though chanteuse Júlia Karosi is the focal point of Hidden Roots, she chose her ensemble so well that they share the stage charismatically, thus contrasting and amplifying her artistry. Everyone here is youthful and full of energy, something especially seen in Aron Talas' strong hand on the piano but also in Bendeguiz Varga's frequently muscular drumwork. When I tell you that, though, weigh it against Karosi's oft plaintively wistful encantations because therein a perfect balance of strength and vulnerability is achieved, neither overpowering the other for even a moment. In the background, Adam Bogothy plies a bass oft whispering like a susurrating breeze through tree and forest, undulations of gentle waves across the ocean's face…although, when things speed up, as in Floating Island, he too picks up and runs.

This is a Hungarian ensemble, and Karosi is widely considered to be one of the country's best singers, something I wouldn't for a moment disagree with. More than once, we're reminded of a cross between Eleni Karaindrou, Flora Purim, and Lani Hall, as Júlia spends much of her time melismatically and with a very interesting interpolation I think will intrigue non-European listeners: when she sings in her native tongue, it very much, to non-Hungarian ears, approaches scat / melisma / non-syllabics, especially in the fashion she inflects, first seen in Édesanyám rózsafája, a trad opus. What also emerges is an exotic strain more pronouncedly seen in arabesqued musics. The similarities in that cut to ghazals is interesting but the song also shines with New York overtones. Tobias Meinhart bulks the latter up, appearing on tenor sax on half the tracks, Noah's Ark a good example.

The echoes in what occurs in Brazilian vocal musics is also a bit intriguing. I would not have been surprised for a moment had the Zoho label released this, so strong is every aspect of the release. Nor is the relation to some of the more sophisticated and worldy progrock ensembles (Turning Point, etc.) and progjazz bands (Michael Urbaniak, etc.) missed. Back then, the timing was wrong, though the fare was superb; now, with the globe shrinking daily, we've entered an age of listener refinement and aesthetic hungers that swiftly overcome earlier unattuned ears. And I predict Mr. Talas will be as much lauded for his leonine work here as Ms. Karosi will be for her seductive, picturesque, soothing vocals…but so will Mr. Varga. I suggest you catch his and Talas' interplay in Imhol Kerekedik…especialy if you dig what Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer used to do.

Oh…and my favorite cut? The title song. Triple sweet and then some.

Track List:

  • The Miraculous Deer (Júlia Karosi)
  • Édesanyám rózsafája (traditional)
  • Noah's Ark (Júlia Karosi)
  • Imhol Kerekedik (traditional)
  • Hidden Roots (Júlia Karosi)
  • Floating Island (Aron Talas)
  • Seed (Varga / Karosi)
  • Race Against Time (Júlia Karosi)
  • Szól a kakas már (traditional)
  • Sinus Motion (Adam Bogothy)
  • Hymn to Love (Júlia Karosi)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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