|The Other Shore
Tibor Szemző's new LP features two composition, »The Other Shore« & »CUBA«. As the album title implies, »Snap #2« can be considered a sequel to his cult album »Snapshot from the Island« (released in 1987). Back then the island was a metaphor for isolation, while »Snap #2« offers Szemző’s reflections of his visits to real islands, Cuba (1988-1990) and Japan (1992-1994). As usual, Tibor Szemző processed the themes both visually and musically and has presented them many times live as cinematographic performances.
A previous version of »The Other Shore« was released in 1999 on CD. On this album, the original recording from 1997 is used; it has been recomposed, remixed and remastered and some additional recordings have been included. The core of Szemző’s Gordian Knot ensemble of the mid-nineties (Tibor Szemző on bass flute, Péter Magyar on drums and Tamás Tóth on bass guitar) has been enlarged by a string section and additional percussionists. The Other Shore composition has a multilayered texture; it starts with strings and is followed by prerecorded voices reciting the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law (Myôhô-Renge-Kyô in Japanese), the most important sutra of Mahayana Buddhism. Then percussion introduces the basic beat of the piece and the voice of the 102 year-old Buddhist priest Ônishi Ryôkei giving a lecture on Kannon sutra is heard. The following uneven entries of drums and bass guitar are like paint brush strokes in Zen calligraphy. The long tones of Szemző’s bass flute enters the piece as the last element suggesting itself as a connecting thread through all previous layers.
When Tibor Szemző first visited Cuba in 1988, he had just started shooting film on 8mm, something of a personal diary. When he met Jonas Mekas in Budapest a few years later, he realized that this footage could be screened publicly and also be an integral part of live performances. »CUBA« is the recording from 2000 of one such performance and was remixed by the author in 2021. It is as similar to and yet different from »The Other Shore«. The Gordian Knot band seemingly structures the piece in the same way, but the resulting sound is much heavier especially thanks to drummer Péter Magyar. Nevertheless, the contributions of Szemző on bass flute, Mihály Huszár on electric bass and T. Bali on prepared electric guitar also inject the proper rock sting. Incorporated Havanna street sounds and local radio broadcasts recorded by the author provide even more steamy roughness to the sound of Szemző’s »CUBA«.
The cover design of the »Snap #2« with photo reproductions from Szemző’s films reflects the aesthetics of the Snapshot from the Island album. This vinyl LP runs at 45 RPM for better sound quality.