Hungarian composer Tamás Kátai returns with Geometria, his latest under the Thy Catafalque moniker. Kátai’s musical appetite is vast, with a CV that includes classical, avant-garde, ambient and all manner of metal subgenres. Such a breadth of interests and acumen in frequently disparate idioms can be off-putting for some but upsetting our notions and juxtaposing various shades of light and dark is what this project is all about.
The LP opens with the folk prog exploration, “Hajnal csillag,” an eight-minute homage to the indigenous music of his homeland mixed with flashes of classic English prog. It is one of several here to feature the singular vocal sounds of Martina Veronika Horváth, whose work outside these confines demands serious exploration. If we’re feeling particularly at ease by that number, then the full-on metal assault that opens “Szamojéd freskó” casts all comfort aside.
It is a properly epic, symphonic and cinematic metal number which combines the expansive nature of classic space rock, neo-classical metal and the formidable fright of black metal. (Others cut from the same cloth include “Sárember” and “Lágyrész”).
Those are rewarding for fans of the heavier side of life and this record, but so are the more experimental turns. “Gote” wouldn’t be out of place on a classic Giorgio Moroder soundtrack but it juxtaposes familiar synth settings with folk Eastern European folk rhythms and a melodic whimsy few others would dare to explore. "Töltés" springs from a similar impulse albeit with another haunting, ethereal Horváth performance.
It’s entirely conceivable to imagine “Balra a nap” occupying space on commercial radio in some corner of the world, its pulses and impulses familiar enough that one can easily hang their hat on its intentions. “Tenger, tenger”’s sublime violin lines from Misha Doumnov takes us deeper into the East while “Hajó” wouldn’t have been out of place on Ray Lynch’s New Age masterpiece Deep Breakfast.
Kátai, who handles all the keyboard duties (and, in fact, pretty much everything) on Geometria, takes listeners on a decidedly unique experience across these 11 compositions and if we feel somewhat exhausted at the end, spent by the sometimes labyrinthineturns and unable to comprehend it all at once, that’s just part of the grand plan.