Átfordul – Live at Bükk marks the return of Hungarian post-rock trio Tӧrzs, presenting their first material since they introduced themselves to the world in grand fashion with 2019’s majestic audio/visual experience Tükӧr. Those who are familiar with Tükӧr won’t soon forget its powerful imagery, with its ever-probing camera capturing a live recording of the album within the stunning interior landscape of the Aggteleki Cseppkőbarlang national park caverns. What was already a tantalizingly spacious and elegant collection of songs became a fully immersive, tangibly lived-in, and ultimately unforgettable affair. “Átfordul” is a prelude of things to come for the band, but also a standalone musical and cinematic achievement of its own.
Recorded in the Bükk Mountains, “Átfordul” stands proudly as a definitive next step for the band and Máté Szombath, the video’s cinematographer. The entire experience – music and images – were recorded in a single take, with no cuts, and what the listener hears is not a studio rendition, but rather the direct audio from this session. The band stayed at a small cottage in the forest leading up to the recording, with no electricity or running water, just a solar battery to fulfill basic needs for the shoot. This experience allowed them to tune in to their surroundings, and to get in lock step with their environment in a way that would inform the essence of their performance.
Depicted in arresting black and white, the wooded mountain terrain becomes an important dramatic counterpart for the music, as the camera glides past sparsely leafed trees, revealing a depth that allows viewers to better perceive the expanse of the forest surrounding the band. “Átfordul”’s first notes ring with pristine clarity as the camera pushes in toward the performance, eventually reaching and thoroughly exploring a stage set in a small clearing. It serves as something of a counterpoint to the caverns of Tükӧr, whose immensity made the band feel almost diminutive by comparison. Here, they seem more naturally intermingled with their backdrop, harmonizing in unison with the forest as opposed to resounding through the vast depths of the caves.
The track itself follows a motif befitting the concept, with individual notes given room to grow and flourish as they ring out through the columns of trees. It possesses a gentle and unhurried arrangement that plays well with the steadily but slowly roaming camera. The viewer is pulled closer as the track moves toward its crescendo, and only when it has joined the band onstage does the song break into a more hastened pace. But even as the volume is increased, the peaceful sensibilities remain; there is no aggression in these climactic moments, only joyous catharsis. As the track settles into its serene outro, the camera pulls back into the forest, leaving the band united within the trees, and finally comes to rest on the Czechoslovakian wolfdog that can be seeing running just ahead in the video’s opening moments.
Átfordul – Live at Bükk serves as a reminder of both Torzs’ ability to create a breathtaking union with their surroundings, and the natural companionship post-rock shares with the world around us. It cannot be understated how much a beautiful landscape can boost the effect of post-rock songwriting, and vice versa. The band clearly understands that, and consistently seeks out ways to capture this harmonious partnership at its most striking. Fans can look to “Átfordul” as a warm reminder of this, and as an alluring taste of what’s to come from this exciting trio.