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Anja - Rengeteg Award winner

by Mark Machlay at 19 April 2020, 4:23 AM

Hailing from Kondoros, a relatively small village in southeastern Hungary, experimental/progressive rock band AJNA style is hard to describe. The Hungarian trio admits that themselves also claiming “we don’t listen to bands like us or who have similar themes as ours so we can only go after our own head while making a song”. The bands core was fused as far back as 1999 but the band itself was not formed until 2010 after bassist Piller Gyorgy joined up with the others.

While they may not listen to a lot of post-rock –which is the most succinct way to describe their instrumental droning style – influences can definitely be heard peppered throughout their debut album “Rengeteg”. The album’s title is an ambitious word in Hungary, meaning “a vast forest and plenty of something” as described by bassist and main driver of the pieces much of the time, Pillor Gyorgy. Gyorgy’s groovy, jazzy, meaty bass work is one of the strongest components of the album and makes it pretty obvious that PRIMUS is a main influence. The opening title track begins with birdsong before a slow, droning guitar and bass pattern is repeated in hypnotic fashion. The bass continues the hypnotic, trance-inducing groove while clean guitar floats like an avian overtop.

The first single “B’” is next with a quicker pace but same energy as the previous track. After a riff and odd time change riff, guitars become more distorted with a nod to SPASTIC INK or somewhat contemporaries RUSSIAN CIRCLE, becoming fairly standard post-rock especially after about the 3:25 mark when the songs bursts wide open with double and heavy guitar chords. “Eta Carine” pulls it back with a crawling bass opener while the guitar punctuates the rhythm with a spacey colored tone, staying with a similar aesthetic throughout the song.

“Spiral” is possibly the most gorgeous and overtly minor track, opening with strong 16th note triplet bass pattern and climbing bass pattern as the guitar punctuates with chords again. Soon, the guitars break into a PRIMUS like rhythmic riff. Several breakdowns and time signature shifts later it ends a bit uncertainly with a nearly imperceptible tonal shift by the end.

“Nyergett Taltos Kancacsikok” uses more samples – footsteps, wind, horse, a stagecoach possibly? – and dives more into Pat Matheny jazz fusion drive. “Hekate” is as haunting as the title suggests – drum, bass and guitar rhythmically mirroring each other at different points, rocking back and forth between two tonal centers in the latter half. But the band never seems to get too heavy until the ending of “Seiran” with a guitar riff that has been in the song previously but is heavily electronically distorted and features several false stops ala TOOL.

The band makes light use of samples and heavy reliance on droning, beguiling and bewitching melodies and rhythmic clusters that produce less melody but more mood. Songs seem to follow a theme through to conclusion, at times beleaguering the point, but sometimes the repetition is comforting and welcome. Tending to sit mostly in the post-rock genre with meanderings into post-metal, jazz, fusion and generally avant-garde, it’s a nice mix of all without overindulging any of the latter for too long. It was highly enjoyable and anyone adventurous and loves instrumental rock music will probably dig this.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Rengeteg
2. B
3. Eta Carinae
4. Spiral
5. Nyergelt Taltos Kancacsikok
6. Hekate
7. Turba
8. Seiran
9. Zsuzsi Mozog
Altmann Janos – Drums
Piller Gyorgy – Bass
Uhljar Szabolcs – Guitar
Record Label: Inverse Records


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