Tibor Szemző is not only a skillful and experienced Hungarian musician but also a media artist with a vast imagination. His last LP, Arbo X – Csoma Grooves, refers to his full-length film A Guest of Life released in 2006, for which he not only directed but also composed all the music. The film is inspired by the life of Alexander Csoma de Körös, a remarkable polyglot from the 19th century who set out from his native Transylvania to central Asia on foot to look for the roots of the Hungarian language. He reached Tibet, dedicated the rest of his life to study of Tibetan manuscripts and finally became the founder of tibetology. After 14 years Tibor Szemző decided to explore the theme further and composed the cinematic performance, Silverbird and the Cyclist, where he as narrator presented the story of Csoma from a different perspective.
Arbo X is the music from this performance and it is based on the soundtrack of the original movie but the material has been restructured and enhanced by new layers. There are fourteen relatively short tracks on the album and each of them has a very specific character, sometimes mysterious as the titles of the tracks themselves. Their arrangement is ingeniously composed. Szemző’s typical bass flute and voice with percussion accompaniment on the first track Axis is a very impressive introduction to the whole album. The following tracks build up a series of colorful sound parables, which are in no way descriptive. Every element, whether it’s a double bass, viola, soprano voice, vocal trio or electronics, fits perfectly within the overall sound fabric with effective timing. Listening to Arbo X one unwittingly concentrates on interweaving details without loosing the sense of the whole. It’s certainly a great benefit, as in previous recordings, that most of the musicians participating in the recording of Arbo X are very familiar with Szemző’s music and his collaboration with some of them goes back to Group 180, a new music ensemble he founded in 1978 and soon earned international acclaim. This most recent album belongs among a long line of recordings that Tibor Szemző has released during his musical career and displays great compositional complexity and a keen sense of a perfectly balanced sound spectrum.