Think Hungary, and names likes Solaris, Omega, and After Crying will inevitably jump into your line of sight. Still down on a lower rung, Hungary slowly produces quality prog acts that tend to impact audiences worldwide greatly, so Periferic Records' signing of Mindflowers should speed up this midsized (relatively speaking) European country's ascent. Mindflowers, a progfusion quartet, may easily be Hungary's answer to Québec's Spaced Out. In order for that to even be feasible, Mindflowers would need to have a monster bassist in its midst — and they do. Balázs Szendőfi demonstrates his arachnoid fingerwork on a 7-string bass and a 12-string Grand Tapboard, both of which he credits as custom creations — designed by his father! Gergely Gáspár speaks the language of groove on his Tama drums, Sabian cymbals, and Remo heads. Zoltán Szentpál is the resident guitar wizard, and no slouch himself, keyboardist Zsolt "Liszt" Nagy (the only guy without accents in his name) gets a lot of action with his modest setup. Nagy plays sounds from three modules — Korg X5D, Alesis Nanopiano & Quadrasynth module — on a Yamaha KX88 master keyboard.
Szendőfi's tapping echoes a certain Mssr. Fafard, and it comes out in full force with no time wasted, sucking up aural space where Nagy's analog leads & delicate interstitial piano treatments, and Szentpál's power chords, happen to take a breather. Otherwise, it's every man for himself, though not always. "Red Spider" is a beautiful sculpt of team-play, complements, and unison lines that make its eight minutes seem like four. "Sick Spirit" (a Nagy composition) makes use of chunky chords & metal riffs to underscore the keyboardist's soaring analog lead that harkens back to Kevin Moore's melodies for "Metropolis I." "Why?" is a short piano-bass duet (yes, the bass sounds like an acoustic guitar on this cut). Szendőfi responds with "Why Not?" — which, incidentally, ends up being a better showcase for Gáspár than any of the others, as he calmly alternates between restraint and shows of force where required. The man doesn't overplay.
"Crying Skies" begins with a fragile arpeggio on acoustic guitar, with notes of longer duration overlaid for a slightly Philharmonie-like vibe. This track never unloads like a turret cannon, evolving layer by layer into an exquisite jazz-rock composition of a gentler kind. After an intriguingly short funky intro, Szentpál's "Knowing The Path" leads the quartet down a more predictable avenue, though all is flawlessly executed, from the fills to the bass solo spots. Nagy's organ solo reminds us that his role should have been a bit larger on this album. "Flo's Kisses" ups the ante once again, with guest violinist Flóra Horváth trading off with Szendőfi's Clarke licks — add classical guitar, congas & shakers, and serve the margaritas (don't forget the little umbrellas).
For their coup, Mindflowers unveil a 22:37 epic, making this a double album by yesterday's standards. Subdivided into seven continuous parts, the whole of "Talk With Myself" becomes the band's examination essay after the previous eight "class" sessions. Nagy steams it up with a salsa~jazz piano solo in Pt. 2–"Cold Days, Hot Nights," cool blues organ and icy synth solos in Pt. 3–"Chaos," and a tasty Rhodes outing in Pt. 5–"Friends." Szendőfi funks, struts, slaps and taps to the nth degree in "Chaos," "Friends," Part 6–"Dirty Endgame," and takes the ball home on Pt. 7–"Farewell," a solo bass piece. Pt. 4–"Sink Into The Emptiness," is Szentpál's moment to shine. As always, Gáspár is the adhesive that holds everything in check through passages bold and quaint. Now that the foursome has flexed their instrumental muscle on Improgressive, they can rebound with a sophomore recording that is even more compositionally-oriented.