Sfinx - Zalmoxe (1978)

When my mother told me that she plans to go to Romania to discover the unknown, I took a quick browse on the Internet, and I gave her the list of Romanian prog bands that I was able to find on web. Two weeks later she came back with loads of souvenirs, Dracula T-shirt, few Romanian recorders and small flutes and a yellow cassette.

That yellow cassette appeared to be SFINX'es "Zalmoxe", poor edition without any details in inner sleeve, not even the year of issue. Just terribly printed list of tracks, and these track appeared to be in different order from the CD issues that I've found on Web. Maybe because of tape length. And no bonus tracks here. So I placed a tape into my cassette player...

...and didn't move or breathe for next 45 minutes. What can I say about this gem? It sounds like these guys came out of nowhere, reinventing the music and making an album that can't be compared to anything, because it's so unique.

There are quite a few multilayered vocals, based on orthodox monastery prayers. Somehow that reminds me of QUEEN, rather than URIAH HEEP or GENTLE GIANT. Electric guitar is doing some nice job here and there, but the keyboards got the prominent role. You can here some nice odd time signature sequences (based on the Balkan music) that reminds me of LEB I SOL or perhaps AREA's synth solos (only not so raw) and calm pads surrounding the vocals. These pads are the reason why this album sounds ahead of its time, really, it sounds like a mixture of symphonic keyboard oriented rock and ballads that could perfectly fit in a role of any of the 1980's world soccer championship anthems. But don't get me wrong, this formula works fine, because every moment you can expect a cross fade between ballad part and some absolutely insane sounds. Production is fine, sounds quite polished (in a good way).

Again, what can I say... I'm hesitating to give this album five stars because of occasional inconsistencies (some tracks are not weaker, they're just less enjoyable), and because some tracks could've been more developed. Actually, they are developed enough, but in which direction? This album is so strange, and so hard to rate. I guess you can easily call it a masterpiece, or dislike it...but definitely well worth giving a try. - Review by clarke2001 (Moris Mateljan)

Track Listings

1. Ursitoarele (Fortune Tellers) (5:30)
2. Blana de urs (Bear's Fur) (4:00)
3. Mierea (The Honey) (4:28)
4. Pestera (The Cave) (4:10)
5. Epifania (Epiphany) (4:11)
6. Furtuna cu trup de balour (Dragon Shaped Storm) (4:53)
7. Cãlãtorul prin nori (Cloud Traveller) (6:26)
8. Kogaion (5:28)
9. Epilog (Epilogue) (3:00)
Bonus tracks:
10. Din nou acasã (Home Again) (4:37)
11. Scufita Rosie (Little Red Riding Hood) (3:01)
12. Fetele albine (Bee-Girls) (2:51)
13. Zmeul (The Kite) (2:43)

Total Time: 55:18

- Dan Andrei Aldea / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Corneliu Bibi Ionescu / bass
- Nicolae Enache / keyboards
- Mihai Cernea / drums
Releases information

LP Electrecord ELCD 135 (1978)


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