click on images to visit Fanni's (lead vocals) website
Image © You and I 2001
You And I
originally published: 13 April 2001
last update: 06 September 2010
We originally wrote about featured artist Fanni Völgyessy-Szomor--the stunning lead vocalist from the Hungarian progressive band You And I--in an article published in in January 2000. The project actually began some six months earlier, however exciting news from the artists led to updates made through the last half of 1999. Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the latest album from the band--entitled Exit (Peripheric (Hungary) BGCD 042, 2001), released in Europe on 01 March 2001--is reviewed here. Sources close to the Budapest-based band have provided the images used within this review.
You And I's career began in the mid-1990s where covers of popular and progressive artists of the day dominated their early live gigs. Classic rock tracks by Yes ("Siberian Khatru," "And You and I" and "Heart of the Sunrise") and ethereal vocal numbers by Enya ("When The Evening Falls") regularly graced their repertoire. The band's self-titled album, deployed in 1995, met widespread critical acclaim in progressive rock media. Their music is a mixture of folk, symphonic music, pop and rock and breathes a mystical ambient atmosphere. Well arranged instrumentals perfectly complimented the crystalline vocal prowess of the band's lead vocalist.
On the heels of the band's first release, the artists supported Fanni in a solo release--entitled Dawning--which, preciously released on a gold disc and accompanied by a lovely booklet full of the artist's photos, went almost un-noticed until You And I's follow-up Go in 1998. Dawning is historically perfectly sandwiched between the band's debut and Go and joins You and I's albums as a must listen. Further details accompany our review.
In addition to Fanni Völgyessy-Szomor (lead and backing vocals), You And I includes Károly Dorogi (bass guitar and narration), Gergő Szabó (keyboards), Zsolt Kosztyu (guitars) and Tamás Nádházy (drums). News of the band's latest project and another solo project by Fanni came to Musical Discoveries during 2000. You And I's new album, Exit, returning to the band's progressive roots, emerged first. Lyrics are sung in Hungarian and the message of the album might be missed if the booklet accompanying the compact disc with English translation by Ágnes Morzsa is overlooked.
We have been told that Fanni's solo project is moving on quite slowly. She has decided to print a book of her poems with a maxi CD containing four songs. The band told us, "It will be nice soft music with piano and cello accompaniment." At this time the artists are looking for sponsors since high printing expenses will reflect the ultra-high production quality being sought for the project.
Exit has been receiving positive reactions from the music media and significant attention by Hungarian radio. One reporter asked, "Isn't the topic of death, which is the theme of Exit, too remote for listeners? And isn't it too difficult to promote a band that plays a music style which is considered peripheric for many publishers?" Karesz (Dorogi Károly), the leader of the band, said, (translated) "For us many of the issues that concern the public mind are 'peripheric', while the questions about how to live and how to die are central." The name of the band's label is Peripheric.
Comprised of eleven tracks running just under an hour, the album includes more instrumental-only pieces than the band's prior recordings; their first use of narration illustrates the serious theme of the album.
Exit opens with a brief vocalise-only lullaby-like introduction sung to one of the musical themes that recurs as the album develops. Building orchestral keyboards then provide the foundation for the first narration and Fanni's first vocal solo, reminiscent of the band's debut album.
The band's full splendour is introduced in "Ancient Light," an almost-eight minute Yes-like progressive rocker with guitars playing off the brilliantly symphonic sounds of the keyboard supported by crisp percussion and rhythmic bass. Fanni's soaring vocals are mixed way up, never ever overshadowed by the equally stunning instrumental arrangements.
Familiar You And I-style guitars provide the foundation for the second brief narration introduces the epic-length and hard rocking fast-paced and dynamic "Gods of Death." Dominated by heavy guitars, Fanni's vocals and keyboard riffs pierce through the tight arrangements. Guitar and keyboard solos within the piece and Fanni's vocalise collectively demonstrate the virtuosity of the individual artists while the arrangements of the various, and different styled, movements are a tribute to the band working as a cohesive ensemble.
Another short bit of narration precedes the sixth through ninth tracks of the album--a four movement piece--entitled, "North," "East," South" and "West." "North" is a shorter track that blends new age with gothic instrumentals and many layers of Fanni's lovely vocalise. More orchestral, and typically You And I in its sound, blending symphonic keyboards and dynamic guitar, "East" is introduced with a lovely guitar solo and another brief narration. We especially enjoyed the way that Fanni's lead vocal was self-backed with layers of multi-tracked harmony throughout the track. A worldly chant adds texture during the instrumental bridge. The band have certainly found their stride.
"South" is a lovely and upbeat instrumental with hand claps providing the essential percussive element in the guitar-led portions of the track. A lighter keyboard theme contrasts and adds interest to this stunning track, and will further expand the listener's interest in You And I. The four-part set concludes with the progressive rocker "West." Upbeat, orchestral and full of Fanni's evocative and brilliant lead vocals, the track summarises the album including the various melodies and themes from the tracks that have preceded it.
The Stunning Fanni Völgyessy-Szomor
Image © You And I 2001
A lovely keyboard part introduces the final bit of narration that precedes the closing instrumental of the album entitled "Matrix." The narration seems to summarise the hopeful theme of the album effectively, (translation) "I'm asking you, Noblest of all, if there is anything you would withold. For you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and joy. And there are no graves here, for these mountains and plains are a cradle and a stepping stone. Yet this is but half the truth. For all substance is spirit and spirit is mere emptiness. Never born, forever existent. Now the stream is about to reach the sea, and once more the great mother will hold her son against her breast. A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me."
A progressive classic, "Matrix" is neither dominated by keyboard nor guitar. Instead, it is a symphonically orchestral piece--influenced by bands like Yes and ELP--that serves to illustrate the time and care taken in You And I's songwriting, with various themes and melodies running in and out as the piece develops, returning to the breathing textures that open the album. It is a stunning conclusion to the band's latest masterpiece.
It is clear from the acclaim above that Exit is certain to appeal to a broad range of Musical Discoveries visitors. This album, like the earlier material (review) from the artists, is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and is certainly a must listen!
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