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Band World Rock


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I can see that after three years of very hard work the debut album of Napra has finally been released. To some extent I could gain some insight into its coming into existence so that I can declare now that with every set back something more, better and more convincing came out of it. (The question might have arisen as to whether the fact that band leader Miklos Both was also singing and playing guitar in Barbaro would be a complication, but it soon turned out that this was not the case at all. The thing that differentiates these two etno-rock bands is as apparent as the similarities in their mode of expression.)
Although the opening track of Oh, What A World! is entitled How Darkness Spread, it is as clear as daylight that this lightly complex music, full of surprises, possesses a really original sound and a new quality. I could not really decide if it is approaching folk music from progressive rock or just the opposite, but it does not really matter anyway. The certainty is that it handles both traditions according to their own merits, in a precise balance, and these two seem to immensely enjoy each other’s company. If any trouble appears at all, it is very small: I personally find the funky style at the beginning of the excellent Ugros irritating, but to look at it as a whole, well-devised and well-realised tracks follow one after the other on the disc to the last sound. In these songs the folk instruments (violin, cimbalom, accordion) not only precisely understand each other, but almost speak the same language as the piano, the drums and the guitar. Male voice, female voice, dynamism, strength, zip and lyricism, anything you want, so lest the list of names should be missing: Miklos Both is singing, playing the guitar and creating special effects, Kinga Kramli is singing, Mate Hegedus is playing the violin, Zoltan Bobar is responsible for the keyboard instruments, Kalman Balogh is playing the cimbalom, Csaba Winter is playing the bass guitar and Ferenc Pfeiler is providing percussion.
Last but not least, two excellent English producers, Ben Mandelson and Rob Keyloch worked on the album. An investment like that is really rare and hardly remunerative in our tiny music market. But that is the real thing, as I say, it is a hard grind. But now we have it.
- Laszlo MARTON, Magyar Narancs, 13th December, 2007

"World music: A little extra edge - Napra and Barbaro at the Palace of Arts (Concert)"

In rock music we must be careful when using the term progressive. The word carries with it some obscure, insipid and dreamy meaning which one does not really associate with innovative, forward-pointing music, but rather with some museum piece Jethro Tull or Yes albums of mature family men containing by now rather outdated guitar masturbations. What is more, in the past few years the experts of the music press have worn it to tatters so that the expression progressive rock has
degenerated into a suspiciously devastating rather than praiseworthy attributive construction. Still, from time to time such music bands do appear to which this word can be applied without the intention of being offensive or ironical. Such is the case with Barbaro, resurrecting like a phoenix after 13 years: Barbaro III. released last October, is for me clearly among the top three in the list of best Hungarian albums of the year.
The title - main hero of the evening - was deservedly carried off by Miklos Both, the pupil of Sandor Cziranku - this 26 year-old singer-guitarist first proved with Napra that it is possible to incorporate the tighter devices of prog-rock into the domain of traditional folk music in an innovative and authentic way, then did just the same with Barbaro in reverse by planting folk elements in a relatively harder musical soil. At the beginning of the Napra concert I started to wonder whether the band was perhaps not mature enough for such a large stage, but their powerful performing style and
musical versatility soon convinced me: the seven-member band knows everything about folk music, shifting dynamics and frequent changes of tempo. The rhythm section (Ferenc Pfeiler - drums, Csaba Winter - bass guitar) laid down a tight, solid foundation, fittingly accompanied by Kalman Balogh (cimbalom), Mate Hegedus (violin) and Zoltan Bobar (accordion) who, while playing with restraint for the most part, at times provided solos demonstrating their sparkling instrumental virtuosity. As for Kinga Kramli (voice) and Miklos Both, they brilliantly bound the whole band together: while listening to the complex Pici haz (Little House), based on a nursery rhyme, and the title track of their first album, Oh, What A World!, it became clear that Napra will be able to win over even larger spaces than this.
The greatest thing about the evening concerning Napra, and also Barbaro, was the extra edge they displayed: not only did they play every single note of the tunes with album-like quality, they also re-examined and reinterpreted their truly forward-looking songs a little and presented them with cool composure. - H.M., Magyar Narancs, 20th January, 2008

"Folk-rock, the Hungarian way"

'What if Jimi Hendrix had heard the playing of a Transylvanian village primas? What if Béla Bartok were to have heard Jimi Hendrix?' These are questions asked in the liner notes to this disc. Which is why this sounds like no other recording of Hungarian folk music. The first track - a dark song about visiting a lover's grave - is heavy with distorted electric guitar, electric bass and staccato accordion. Vocals and guitar are by Miklós Both. It's quite a shock at first, but then becomes rather compelling - the basic tune and lyrics about clouds over the cemetery are presumably traditional. Keeping a toe in more traditional waters there's Maté Hegedus on violin and the ubiquitous Kálmán Balogh on cimbalom. 'Bánat, bánat' is another folksong, a much gentler, sorrowful lament, sung by Kinga Krámli, accompanied just by piano and delicate, spider-web cimbalom. The idea is to take traditional songs, butt arrange and perform them in a new way - with electric instruments, drums and some rock'n'roll attitude. The British duo of Ben Mandelson and Rob Keyloch were brought in to produce it - and probably helped it win the Best World Music Album Award in Hungary. The reason it works is that most of the musicians are well-versed in traditional music, so while it sounds unusual, it doesn't sound contrived. I like it a lot. - Simon Broughton, Songlines March 2010


Oh, What A World! - CD released by FolkEuropa in 2007
Napra: Little House (Radio single) 2008
Napra: Ballada (Radio single) 2009



What if Jimi Hendrix had heard the playing of a Transylvanian village primas (violinist)? What if Bartok were to have heard Jimi Hendrix? And what if YOU were now to hear Napra?

The majority of the band members are well-acquainted with and respect folk music. This can be detected both in the music and the lyrics, although the arrangement of the original traditional material and their mode of expression is rather different, both novel and elemental. By now we have learnt that the marriage of the accordion, the drums and the electric guitar with the acoustic instruments such as the cimbalom, the violin and the viola is not at all impossible. If you want to listen to some real musical originality and appreciate virtuoso instrumental technique, then you cannot miss Napra or their recently released debut album entitled Oh, What A World! directed by two world-famous producers from London, Ben Mandelson and Rob Keyloch.

The world music band Napra was formed in Budapest in the autumn of 2004. The common point of departure for the musicians of Napra is the folk music of the Carpathian Basin, but instead of using it in its authentic form they interpret it in the light of contemporary culture, transposing it into modern sound. In order to do that, of course, it is important that the band members are well-acquainted with the folk music of the region and can move freely within this musical world, and that they are able to adapt its stylistic elements to any musical situation with ease. The members have played in bands well-known on world- and folk music stages and have achieved some fame for their successful performances. Their outstanding instrumental knowledge, virtuosity and dynamic mode of performance endow their music with special power. Combining the electric with the acoustic, the mix of electric instruments (drums, bass guitar, guitar) with folk instruments (violin, viola and cimbalom) results in an original sound characteristic to Napra.

Kinga KRAMLI, voice, recipient of a special award for outstanding singers, the Erzsebet Torok Prize, and winner of many county and national music competitions.
Miklos BOTH, front man of Napra, also singer-guitarist of the reformed Barbaro, and formerly a member of VHK and Karpat Mobiusz.
Kalman BALOGH, one of the most famous cimbalom (dulcimer) players of modern times who has done a lot for the popularization of his instrument. Has played all over the world, not only with folk musicians but also with symphony orchestras, jazz and contemporary music formations. Started his career as a folk musician. Went on tour for several months as the musical director of the Magneton Gypsy Show directed by Andre Heller.
Mate HEGEDUS, violin, a permanent guest musician of Hungarian Folk Ensemble. The primas (lead violinist) of Hiros band since 2002.
Bass guitarist Csaba WINTER has played together with front-line jazz musicians such as Cumo Olah, Emil Jelinek and Sandor Zsemlye.
Viola and accordion player Zoltan BOBAR Boby is well-known in traditional folk music circles. Has played a numerous occasions together with Muzsikas, Teka, Gazsa, Csik, Berko and Meta bands.
Ferenc PFEILER, drums. Earlier played in bands such as P.U.F., Korom Attila Band and Peter Ogi.