"At the beginning of the 21st century, in the computer age we still believe in the irreplaceability of the human voice, the instruments made of natural materials and the power of the traditional music."
Venue September 1988
“...Vasmalom from Hungary were many people’s discovery of the weekend, bringing wild gipsy dances and scales that weave through strange and alluring intervals. Their virtuoso range included the cimbalom (hammered strings), Mandocello (double-size fiddle played with a stick), and plastic piping(!)...”
Venue September 1988
“Dear Venue, ...Mild admiration for Vasmalom simply isn’t enough. They were great. For me it was they who stole the show. They are fresh, full of vitality and are great musicians. WOMAD was invigorating and exciting yet again. By the way, mandocello is a large bellied mandolin. Yours, Jules Floyd, St Andrews, Bristol.”
Folk Roots 1988
...Hungary’s Vasmalom were equally fabulous. They play Eastern European songs on so many old instruments as well as viola, fiddle, acoustic bass and the cymbalon (something like a small grand piano with the top and sides off struck with two hammer sticks.) Striking voices. In their own compositions they incorporate even more unusual instruments, one looked like a metal stand with blow holes drilled in various places. Certainly one of the discoveries of the weekend. /W.O.M.A.D. Carlyon Bay, Cornwall
Vasmalom I. album
Folk Roots 1990
Vasmalom have done a couple of WOMAD’s, and by the time you reed this will have finished their short december visit to Britain. This, their first album, is apparently the first Hungarian release independent of the state record label, though made on Hungaroton’s presses. It’s full of beautiful tunes, wild and innovative instrumental textures of fiddle, double bass, bagpipe, darabuka, and, most notably, big flutes working in third and higher registers, where shrieking, slithering harmonics get so close together that whole tunes can be played up there without much need for finger-holes. The singing of Eva Molnar, though different in approach, has to it the same aura of authoritative calm which Marta Sebestyen projects, a sort of sphere of silence around the voice.
TROWBRIDGE FESTIVAL Trowbridge, Wiltshire
An eighteenth birthday is supposed to be a time for celebration and Trowbridge Festival certainly didn’t disappoint the party guests. Set in a beautiful river valley, this tree-day festival which started in a local club has come of age, maturing into the sort of event which drew people to Cherry Hinton Hall. For those who wanted to be deafened there was You Slosh, Storm or Rose Among Thorns; for anyone who wanted sweet sentimentality to sugar their bitter there was Mike Silver, The Cicadas or the Flamingos, but for real music lovers... Vasmalom from Hungary simply blew the crowd away with the most fantastic ethnic sounds produced from a variety of instruments, some of which looked like the end result of Blue Peter projects (first take a length of industrial pipe and some sticky-back plastic...) they may not have Marta Sebestyen, but they have everything else. Oh, but there was so much. Let me just say that while Alan Briars can manage to organise a festival like this, the closest I am ever getting to Cherry Hinton is the Wiltshire border, and it’s not just the price of petrol that make me do it.
Vasmalom II. album
“Taplas” The voice of folk in Wales 1992 No. 52
MAGNIFICENT! A real scorcher of an album! There are insufficient superlatives in the language to adequately describe this heady brew. Friends who visited Budapest brought back Vasmalom’s impressive first album; a few and line-up changes later, they’ve matured so much that they now occupy a well-deserved place in Europe’s premier division. It may seem invidious to single out individuals; all six are outstanding musicians. But special mention must be made of Kalman Balogh, whose scintillating cimbalom has to be heard to believed, and of Balazs Szokolay, for brilliant contributions on flutes, bagpipes, soprano sax - used to such blistering effect on Kerekes (Ring Dance) - and harmonica, when the whole band has enormous fun with Negy Tetel (Four Movements). Then there’s his vocal duet with Eva Molnar on which he uses a truly astonishing Mongolian harmonic overtone style. How does he do it. Gabor Reothy’s nifty mandocello and percussion, and Tibor Csuhaj Barna’s bass provide solid rhythmic underpinning, while Andras Doczy adds typically fiery fiddle. Most pieces included are original compositions and are firmly rooted in the Hungarian tradition; energetic dance tunes with unquantifiable time signatures and delicate, often rather mournful, songs. Vasmalom delayed their departure from Hungary, for a while, until the tape was ready. Next time they tour, they’ll have the CD and vinyl versions - and they will surely sell like proverbial hot cakes.