October 2022 saw the release of Blissful Dystopia, the first full-length album by the homegrown progressive trio BUZZ. We went through this fine piece of the blooming Hungarian post-rock scene song by song, and asked the band themselves about it and their future plans.
Band: BUZZ (HUN)
Album: Blissful Dystopia
Release date: 2022/10/24
As you can see from the release date, we’ve been pushing this poor album for a while, altough in fact it could be called anything but poor: it draws on a wide variety of influences, and the composers, guitarist Tamás Doszpoly, bassist Martin Pastrovics and drummer Levente Kriskovics were not lacking in creativity. Although the main rule of the genre they create in is that there are no rules, they’ve managed to write well-rounded, logically structured songs that confuse the listener only to a healthy degree (anyone who puts on a post-rock album should really be able to fit that in). Excellent instrumental playing, refreshing variety, sophisticated sound – what else could you need?
When I saw the cover I couldn’t help but think of 2000’s nu/emo-rockers Flyleaf, so I hoped the music would be as little like them as possible, and – luckily – I was right. But more than once while listening to the album I had the thought that instrumental genre or progressive, this band could do with a singer – or even better, a female singer. I could at least imagine a singer in most of the songs, maybe not in the opening track Enigma, though. (Meanwhile the sigh at the end is the only recognisable human voice on the album.) After a subtle opening, a nice bass run and jazzy drums, it comes as a minor but welcome surprise that the song gets a bit dour, with double foot drums and distorted guitars. This gothicism, reminiscent of Paradise Lost (and in places, even Katatonia), accompanies the whole album hand in hand with post-rock subtleties. If anyone had any doubts after the high ball given up by Enigma that Buzz’s influences include heavier music than prog rock, the opening and closing …through Singularity, which starts and ends with a Nevermore-like riff, will dispel them. This song is a standout moment of the album, perhaps it’s where the classic instrumental trio (drums-bass-guitar) works best together, I can only imagine the atmosphere this song must have live.
Speaking of which, we can’t ignore the atmospheric, mysterious, but also uplifting Inside. This song was already featured on the debut EP Valium back in 2020 (the title track of which is also on Blissful Dystopia) and I think it stood out from that as well. My favourite part of it is a stoner riff reminiscent of Sleep that bursts in around the five-minute marker, after which the main theme returns for another round and then the song ends. Based on the title, and what I’ve heard so far, I expected Thrown out of a Window in Calcutta (I love titles with a story-telling element) to be the most cheeky, movie soundtrack-like song on the album, but I was pleasantly disappointed. As a bassist, I would like to give my sincere congratulations to Pastrovics in particular, he puts some impressive themes into the songs, nicely counterbalancing the airy guitar melodies and giving due weight to the groggier parts. The wind sounds that they put under the music are especially good, and with such flair that until I heard them again at the end, I didn’t notice that they had quietened down once since the beginning (spoiler: around 1:00). It’s hard to single out just one song from this album, but if I had to, it might be this one, for me it bears a kinship with Serj Tankian‘s solo material. In Thy Solemn Hour makes a groove again, and doesn’t disappoint. It’s probably the most progressive track on the album in terms of song structure, yet at 4:33 it’s even somewhat short compared to the other songs. The theme tune Transient Fuzzpunk is a bit like Inside in terms of mysteriousness, and the monotone piano, reminiscent of the sound of hospital equipment, adds a surprising amount to the overall picture. The little music-box interlude towards the end before a more serious outing is deceptively good, followed by a quieter, almost Red Hot Chili theme, but this too gets its own version of gothic overtones. I told you from the start that this album was going to be rich!
Spendid!, backed by a Jew’s harp and other instruments, is nothing but a nice bridge, but at least it draws attention to the grunge-influenced Valium mentioned on the debut EP. At nearly eight minutes long, it’s one of the longest songs, but it was also perhaps the one I felt least able to sustain my interest throughout the entire playing time. Not so the closing The Wolf Who Cried Man, which – I promise this is the last comparison in the article – reminded me a little of Muse and Porcupine Tree. As is fitting, they left the longest song at the end, it has a bit of a summing up flavour, carrying a bit of the whole thing as a sort of table of contents. I would even dare to call some of its elements the album’s finest moments, an excellent cue.
I don’t want to try to interpret the songs, as one of the joys of instrumental music is that everyone hears different things in the same melodies, so I want to leave that pleasure to you, dear Reader. It’s really worth listening to Blissful Dystopia, and as soon as you get the chance, hear the boys live. Today, the domestic post-rock scene is still in its infancy, but albums like this are essential for its development. When we become a post-rock powerhouse, Buzz will definitely be a reference point.
What is Blissful Dystopia about?
“Dystopia itself, the vision of a world (even) worse than the present, has always surrounded mankind, with countless works on the subject, including major hits like 1984, Day of the Triffids, Machine Orange, but the basic story of The Last of Us, now a hit in the world of series, is also a kind of dystopia. As well as our orchestral attachment to such post-apocalyptic themes, the pandemic has left its mark on everyone in recent years, and the domestic and foreign political situation around us, or the war in our neighbourhood, does not resemble a utopian future.
But the overall dystopian vision of the future does not fully capture the band members’ outlook on life, which is why the slightly contradictory word “Blissful” is used in the title. On the one hand, we like to poke fun at everything, and to capture some, for us, amusing thread of events at every point in life. It’s a bit like the Stockholm Syndrome, where the hostages begin to feel sympathy for their captor in their helplessness, only in our case the ‘captor’ is the sometimes ‘hopelessly painted’ world view.
So, to put in one sentence what Blissful Dystopia is, it is a kind of caricature of the world’s self-created misery.”
What inspired the songs?
“We like to write songs in such a way that the composition is most reminiscent of a story. And with instrumental songs, it’s even more exciting for us because without lyrics, the listener might get a completely different picture of a song than the one we have in our head. The only way to put the main theme into context is by the title of the song.
For example, the album closer “The Wolf Who Cried Man” was inspired by ancient Roman lore. The saying “crying for a wolf”, that one summons trouble, dates back to the time when words were considered to have magical meanings. The word ‘wolf’ also refers to the appearance of a dangerous animal, because its name was not spoken lest it be ‘summoned’, and so it was referred to by its appearance. We have twisted this saying slightly to suggest that wolves are no longer the main threat.
Another example: in the case of the opening song Enigma, we are not quite thinking of the machine used for encryption in the Second World War, which was thought to be unbreakable, but of what its breaking symbolized. In a mechanised world, the Enigma, which was thought to be impregnable, was finally cracked, and in doing so, it was not weapons that won the war, but the ingenuity of people who wanted freedom and peace.”
What can your followers expect from you in the future?
“After the Blissful Dystopia album release show in February, we started to bring out ideas that have been coming since the album was recorded, but there are also more than one initiative that have been in the pipeline for years but we were still maturing them. We’ve already finished one song that we want to perform live soon, and we’re already tasting the structure of the next song in rehearsals.
Since the release of the album, we have received a lot of inquiries about whether the limited edition CDs will be available outside of Hungary, but we have also received a lot of inquiries about other merch products, such as BUZZ t-shirts and sweaters. We are also working on the logistics of this, we have several self-made t-shirt designs, but we are still tweaking them, and it is possible that eventually (as in the case of the Blissful Dystopia cover, which was made by a Ukrainian artist) we will ask a graphic and/or tattoo artist to create a striking design.”
What are your plans for this year?
“In Hungary, instrumental music is still in its infancy compared to other countries in the world, by this we mean that the less familiar style is still new to the general public: in the case of post-rock, for example, the instrumentation is the same as classic rock or even pop music, but in terms of genre it could also be serious music, meaning there are less familiar concepts in terms of song structure.
In this country, the field is very strong in the field of popular music, with more and more interesting artists emerging every year, but it’s good to see that the domestic audience is also open to new things and hungry for something special, something different from the standard in some way. We are also in touch with several post-rock bands that bring some colour to the local palette with their style, for example, but not limited to, Tribe, Friends of a Dead Man, Tenger, Pyøba. Fortunately, all of these bands are very open-minded, and when we have the opportunity, we try to play with bands with similar styles.
Also, we feel very lucky to get invitations from foreign bands visiting Hungary as a co-band on their European tour. So we had the opportunity to play with two Italian post-rock bands in this country within a few months.
In spring and early summer we will play in Budapest, but in autumn we are planning a national mini-tour on the Miskolc, Kecskemét, Baja, Veszprém route.”
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/buzzmusichungary
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/buzz_music_hungary/
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0bqTm1Siw66A6ZuaDHyEih
- Bandcamp: https://buzzmusichungary.bandcamp.com/
by Skinny & Wolfy
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