The second album from Attila Kollár's Musical Witchcraft II project is a savory one. Unfortunately, Utopia drew some fire upon its release by those who stamped it a hybrid folk/new age album, which it hardly is. Yes, there are many elements, many qualities, which Utopia has in line with folk, new age, and medieval music, but the sum of these parts gels into a rich, varied whole of valleys and peaks, textures rough and smooth, with a ballad or interlude for the odd signpost along the way. Attila is the flutist in the great, long-running Hungarian prog band, Solaris, and as much as the compositions revolve around his flute prowess, generous doses of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, violin and even bassoon are dropped into the brew. Solaris fans will recognize bassist Tamás Pócs and drummer László Gömör, but keyboardist Róbert Erdész isn't onboard for this round, with keyboard duties falling to Péter Sárik.
The twenty-minute title suite sets the tone for the entire album, inspired by Thomas More's book. The ambience of night air and Gábor Naszádi's acoustic strum are quickly joined by Kollár's spritely flute melody in the first part of the epic. "Prophets and Day-Dreamers" adds drums and Sárik's digital timbres — which aren't of the highest caliber, but oddly enough, sound pleasantly appropriate more often than not. The jubilant tone is further cemented by electric guitar and a more aggressive flute lead — this track would not sound out of place on a proper Solaris album. "Worlds Closed" introduces the violin of Edina Szirtes, which elegantly duals Attila's part. "At The Light Of The Stake's Fire" caps the suite with a fiery finale: a dash of harpsichord, power chords, hi-octane violin and flute dances, and even bassoon by György Bokor. A true "medieval rocker."
"In The Hiding Place Of Castles" and "Feast On The Tournament" are the subtlest tracks, duets between flute and acoustic guitar, with percussion by Ferenc Kornis; in their simplicity lies their beauty. "The Tower's Room…" and "Fairy Tale Along The Loure" feature Edina's beautiful voice as well as her remarkable violin playing. "Inquisition" is a fine piece of music, but Sárik's plastic synth sound is woefully jarring; even a few more daubs of reverb would have helped to mask it. Aside from that, it features a great bassline by Tamás, more of Edina, and all of the usual goodness in a more conventional-sounding package. "Utopia From The City" is contextually similar and could be deemed "earth-fusion" (and also features a competent organ solo by Sárik).
In conclusion, Utopia projects a rich and varied tapestry of colors and moods, and the gentler sections are offset by the more dramatic upbeat segments. Call it symphonic folk or baroque rock or eclectic classical, but this album will clearly appeal to a broad spectrum of listeners.
Utópia svit / Suite Utopia (1-4) (19:53)
–1. Utópia / Utopia
–2. Látnokok És Álmodozók / Prophets and Day-Dreamers
–3. Kđbezárt Világok / Worlds Closed Into The Stone
–4. A Máglya Fényénél / At The Light Of The The Stake's Fire
5. Kastélyok Retjekén / In The Hiding Place of Castles (2:51)
6. Morus Titkai / Secrets of Morus (3:52)
7. Lakoma A Lovagi Tornán / Feast On The Tournament (2:23)
8. Inkvizició / Inquisition (4:44)
9. A Toronyszoba Ködbe Vész… / The Tower's Room Lost In The Fog (4:57)
10. Nagyvárosi Utópia / Utopia From The City (5:07)
11. Tundérmese A Loire Mentén / Fairy Tale Along The Loure (3:32)
Total time: 47:22