28 July sees the international release of Tamburocket Hungarian Fireworks by the band Söndörg?. Listening to the band play, you soon hear it’s nothing like traditional violin-led Hungarian music. Söndörg?’s sound is light, springy and delicately plucked. Their signature instrument is the tambura, a mandolin-like instrument, probably of Turkish origin, used by the South Slav (Serbian and Croatian) communities in Hungary.
The band is made up of three brothers, Áron, Benjamin and Salamon Eredics, plus cousin Dávid Eredics and Attila Buzás, the only non-family member, on bass tambura. Áron Eredics is also part of the band Vujicsics, winners of Hungary’s most prestigious state-sponsored cultural award, the Kossuth Prize, in 2014.
Tamburocket is Söndörg?’s second international release and features revived tunes drawn from the rich Hungarian archives and annals of the countries esteemed song-collectors and musicologists of yore.
Fast and furious, fingers flying with a fiery panache, Söndörg? are one of the most exciting bands in Europe. With their signature instrument, the tambura, the band brilliantly combines respect for tradition with a desire to innovate and a fizzing virtuosity.
'the sparkling and ebullient Serbian and Croatian songs and dances would make this a joyous addition to anyone's library' 5***** Songlines Magazine
‘a world-class band’ The Guardian
‘Their music sparkles with virtuosity and foot-tapping joie de vivre’ London Evening Standard
Tracks featured here that were first collected by national hero Béla Bartók include the dance tune ‘Drago Kolo’, played as a duet by Áron and Salamon; ‘Srpski Madjarik’, arranged for the basszprímtambura (alto tambura) and cello tambura and ‘Majka Kceru’, a rather sedate wedding song in its original version but reworked by Söndörg? in a more ferocious rhythm.
The two melodies from ethnographer Tihamér Vujicsics were both collected by the Drava river, a tributary of the Danube, which marks much of the border between Hungary and Croatia. The opening ‘Jozo’ is a nonsensical love song, with the original Croatian bagpipe part transferred onto the samica, a small, home-made tambura. The closing ‘Kolovoda’ is a dance song for a kolo ring dance, the most popular folkdance of the South Slavs.
‘Marice’ is a popular Croatian song named after a girl that all the guys lust after, but can’t get. ‘Evo Srcu’ features two slower Serbian melodies from Vojvodina, the northern region of Serbia. ‘Hulusination’ is based on a Macedonian ?o?ek dance tune, but Söndörg? have brought in a sort of Chinese snake-charmer’s pipe called the hulusi (hence the punning title), plus other wind and percussion to create a powerful trance-like track.
What Söndörg? combine brilliantly is a respect for the traditions, a desire to innovate and a fizzing unstoppable virtuosity.