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Eva Polgar and Sandor Valy: Gilgamesh

This is the second collaboration between painter Sandor Valy and pianist Eva Polgar. Valy's musical interests run to a combination of the hardcore (Skinny Puppy and Einsturzende NEubaten) and the minimalist (Steve Reich, John Cage), while Polgar is influenced by Bartok, Debussy, Reich and Louis Andriessen. In fact, it is the influence of Andriessen, more than anybody, who pervades this excellent disc. This record uses the strategic approach of the best minimalists: repeating motifs that modulate over time, the build-up of tension and its release, and careful and intricate writing. In fact, though I note a lot of similarity to pieces by Andriessen, notably the astonishing De Staat, and a bit less so De Tijd, I also find that this would not sound out of place on the later music of Philip Glass. So it wears its influences well.

After the spoken introduction of "The Prologue," the disc really opens with "Gilgamesh- The City," and it is here that we first see how the record will develop. This is a spritely, quick moving piece that repeats over and over its main thematic elements, but sees them mutate over time. "Enkidu" moves in another direction, using repeated vocal samples over a heavy industrial pounding, showing the influence of industrial bands such as Neubaten and Laibach. "Shamhat" is a piano piece, minor key and slow, as well as brief. "The Fight of Gilgamesh and Enkidu" begins slowly, with piano, over which later is layered massed vocals samples, building incredible tension. "Humbaba" works with a three-chord piano motif over which a second piano frantically plays a cascade of notes. Then sax samples enter as the pace increases and becomes angrier. "Isthar" is another solo piano piece, this one sounding angrier than earlier ones. "The Bull" begins with a blast of noise right out of energy jazz or industrial rock. It builds sound on sound and then quickly ends. And so it goes with this record, each song using new tactics as part of the larger strategy. It is a great record, brave and uncompromising, full of energy and highly musical.

Track Listings

  1. Prologue
  2. Gilgamesh- The City
  3. Enkidu
  4. Shamhat
  5. The Fight of Gilgamesh and Enkidu
  6. Humbaba
  7. Isthar
  8. The Bull
  9. Death of Enkidu
  10. Umnapistim
  11. Close to Immortality
  12. Back to the City

Added: March 10th 2014
Reviewer: Dana Lawrence
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 2393
Language: english

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