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Collegium Musicum - Konvergencie CD (album) cover


Collegium Musicum


Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 82 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Active for just over a decade before initially folding in 1981, Slovakian band Collegium Musicum, founded by and mostly driven musically by keyboardist Marián Varga, delivered what is probably their defining musical statement in 1971 with their lavish double LP `Konvergencie', an ambitious and varied eighty-two minute opus full of exceptional playing. Offering four extended collections of music (a mix of studio pieces and live performances), each side holds a single multi-sectioned suite of grandiose music crammed with classical aspirations, symphonic bombast, psychedelic mystery and even enjoyable pop/rock pieces, similar to parts of The Nice, the first `Trace' album, Triumvirat, M.Efekt and Focus, with traces of Krautrock daring and the earliest psych-era works of many of the vintage Italian prog bands as they began to branch out with more adventurous music.

Opening twenty-two minute epic `P.F 1972' is a seven-part suite full of infectious pomp, highlighted by Marián Varga's energetic and grand reprising Hammond organ themes. A tastefully swooning organ motif slowly builds in drama, incorporating Franti?ek Griglák's bluesy electric guitar soloing for wilder breaks, shimmering psychedelic dreaminess around softly twinkling cymbals and rambunctious drum bluster. `Part IV' is bookended with an infernal gently-brooding murkiness that is punctuated by searing Hammond blasts, Focus-like fiery guitar wails and maddening staccato piano stabs, the playful and whimsical `Part V' passage wouldn't have sounded out of place on Rick Wakeman's early discs, there's rambunctious feel-good bursts (`Parts III and VII') with Du?an Hájek's crashing drumming, and even a children's choir singing prettily through the second and sixth moments.

Side B's five-part ` Suita po tisíc a jednej noci' is a live performance that incorporates lengthy instrumental jamming passages weaving in and out of themes lifted from Rimsky-Korsakov's `Scheherazade'. Constant pounding drums and plentiful raging electric guitar searing and slow-burn bluesy come-downs remind of both Focus and Finch, and there's some softer jazzier musings, Fedor Freěo's rumbling bass-fuelled deranged call-to-arms and churning hard psychedelic meltdowns. Think a more spontaneous version of E.L.P's `Pictures at an Exhibition', and the rougher recording quality in comparison to the studio sides helps to give the piece an addictive added toughness.

The eight-part `Piesne z kolovrátku' on the third side fuses several kinds of warmly sung vocal pieces with intricate instrumentations, racing through everything from fancy and joyful piano upbeat ballads (part 2 `Piesne z kolovrátku'), quirky ditties and psych fragments (the few `Interludium' sketches), booming organ/choir reflections (`Choral') and energetic pop-rockers (part IV `Tvoj Sneh') within eighteen minutes, reminding of Modry Efekt and even the Beatles.

The twenty-minute `Eufónia' that closes the set is a five-part vacuum of space music distortion. The introduction may be all grooving Hammond whirling around a foot-tapping beat and smouldering electric guitar embers, but the pieces soon mutates into howling psychedelic reaches that almost call to mind the early Pink Floyd years, splintering and reverberating electronic violations (traces of Egg's `Boilk' from their `Police Force' album buried in there!) meandering into Krautrock-like fuzzy explorations and skittering Rick Wright/`Ummagumma'-era cascading piano nightmares before a final trippy space-out of alien voices (most likely that children's choir from the first piece, just given an `alien baby' makeover here!) and a serene ambient organ send-off. It's directionless and hardly cohesive, but a glorious fuzzy mess of tasty noise all the same.

Yes `Konvergencie' is over-indulgent and also a little dated these days, yet it also remains massively inspired and daring, as so many of the best albums from the most adventurous decade of rock music were allowed to be. Ticking a lot of boxes and offering exciting music in a whole range of styles here, just ignore the bland cover, and look forward to the eclectic psychedelic twists and lashings of bombastic symphonic gold within instead from Collegium Musicum!

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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