Solaris - Marsbéli Krónikák. 1984 Hungary

If you ask a hardcore progressive rock fan what the worst decade of music was, "The 80s" is the automated response. And while I'll stand by that same position, a deep dive into the decade gives us another perspective. 1980 was in reality an extension of the 70s artistically speaking. 1981 to 1983 held plenty of wonderful privately released progressive rock gems primarily from France, Scandinavia, USA, and Germany. Not to mention the promise the original New Wave of British Progressive Rock once projected. And then from 1987 onward, we experienced the renaissance that continues to this day. But the real barren years did exist in the middle - 1984 to 1986 was a graveyard for traditional progressive rock. Fans of fringe areas - like avant prog - will counter that it may have been the golden age as bands like Univers Zero and Present were at their peak. And of course other genres, like heavy metal and various forms of electronic, were also experiencing new high water marks. But if you wanted 70's styled symphonic prog, well it was going to be tough sledding for sure.

I bring this point up in a Solaris review, because Marsbeli Kronikak is the gem in the rough - the very best symphonic prog album in that 3 year time frame. Isolated in still Communist Hungary may have played a role in that - not to mention a relatively more lenient regime in regards to the arts than other Iron Curtain countries at the time.

Recently I had reviewed Tako's second album, and talked about symphonic fusion - a genre that isn't recognized today, but was frequently referred to 25 years ago and beyond. And that's exactly where you'll find the music of Solaris. The primary difference here is the copious use of sequencer based electronics that lay the bedrock for the symphonic progressive music on top. Attila Kollar's flute is magnificent as ever,and he often drives the instantly-recognizable Solaris style melodies. Istvan Cziglan's hard edged guitar, and Robert Erdesz's fine synthesizer work round out the leads.

For us prog fans back in the mid 80's who were desperate for quality 70s styled progressive rock, Solaris was a godsend. In retrospect some 35 years later - they still are.

Personal collection
LP: 1984 Start
CD: 1995 Gong

The CD has 2 bonus tracks, that sound a bit more modern than the album proper.

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