“Purists may question the jazziness of this recording, but what good are such discussions when a shiver runs down your spine when listening to this CD? The sparse arrangement and the unpretentious singing of Anna Patan, the simplicity and authenticity of the artistic expression contribute to the unique atmosphere of this recording.” Jazzfun, Sep. 2023
For fans of physical products, the album “Spice, Gold and Tales Untold” is now available on CD in shops around the world starting today, the 1st of September 2023!
It can also be ordered online on Bardorecords.com
An album review in PROG ROGUE
May 20, 2023
ANA PATAN (ROMANIA) Spice, Gold and Tales Untold
“Contrary to popular perception, I am not at all a narrow-minded, only symphonic/neo prog aficionado, as my vast music collection has all kinds of deviations in its ranks, from classical, jazz, new wave, alternative, rock, blues, pop, and electronic offerings. The number of jazz-rock fusion albums on my walls is quite colossal, as I thoroughly enjoy instrumental music perhaps even more than those with vocals. Ana reached out to PROG ROGUE with an unusually kind and heartwarming request for a review. Ana was raised in an unfortunate time in her country’s already complex history, a child in a land ravaged by poverty and despair, under the evil tutelage of a ‘conducator’ (leader) whose only salvation was that his wife was even a worse human being. As I was born in the neighbouring country, where the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Stalinist regime forced my family and I as a baby into exile, with Soviet border guards shooting at us, so it is fair to say that we share in a similar existential grief that can only be understood by those who escaped or lived in the ‘socialist paradise’ (it was neither). Ana went to Germany to fulfill her artistic desire to express herself unashamedly (aka without censorship of any kind), learning her craft and finally achieving her musical goals. It took almost a biblical 7 years to get this album done and it is a rewarding experience.
It was hard for me to highlight which of her 2 main talents were the most impressive, her unique guitar style (more about that later) or her incredibly sultry vocal phrasing, which at times felt like coming out of the swampy Deep South of the USA! Her release features some rather impressive talent, with the fluid Jonas Hellborg (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Roine Stolt, Alan Holdsworth) on bass and my fellow countryman Zoltan Csorsz (The Flower Kings, Lifesigns, The Tangent) providing a first-rate rhythm section. This is a very personal testament with little affectation, hyper-glossy production with endless layers of sound. Stripped down bare in order to reveal honesty, inspiration, and utter class, the sophisticated object is to seduce, charm and make one smile. Spice Gold and Tales Untold.
A simple ditty kicks off the proceedings with “Undeciphered”, a brief and minimalist intro with zero effects guitar flicks, a humid voice and Hellborg’s lurking bass wobble, all sounding very small smoky stage lounge cocktail aperitif. Elegant simplicity indeed. This is a set up for the entrancing jazzy waltz of “General Conspiracy”, a damp southern blues riff (à la Steve Cropper) with insistent vocal athletics that swerve, rise, swoop and dive with unrestrained ardor. Hypnotic, a bit psychotic and definitely acidic, this a fascinating piece of genius. A darling ballad perhaps that would “Trivialize Love”, the mood gets exceptionally laid back and smooth as floating silk, her electric guitar swooning in exaltation and her shivering voice deeply emotionally engaged. The arrangement slows down to a turtle-like crawl, another marvel, as Jonas unwinds delicately. “The Human” has a folkier setting, with Zoltan tapping his kit with slick minimalism, as Ana wails with plaintive gusto, followed by some twisting guitar touches. Think singer/songwriter greats like Janis Ian, Joan Baez, Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell (the four Js) but Ana can do the guitar thingy very well indeed.
Veering towards a bluesier expanse, “Pure and Plain” showcases some tricky electric guitar phrasings as her voice slips into a clear and yet melancholic stance. She hits the higher notes with ease and conviction, with a little scat to boot. Out of the blue (she does come from a lovely town on the Danube after all), she switches to her native tongue on “Soarele Meu” (my sun), fascinating composition that owns a resemblance to typical Brazilian style jazz (Romanian is a Latin language after all) in that it will make your hips sway to the breezy solar heat emanating from the speakers. Beach music, tanned skin in bikinis, cool beverages, and something grilling nearby.
Okay, enough playful stuff, let’s get hot and heavy with some Southern boogie, a loving wink to ZZ Top, Allman Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section (a hint of their classic “Spooky”), as her relentlessly repetitive riff burrows deep into the soul. “21st Century Citizen” is her raunchy affirmation that her art is universal, though proud of her roots and her offering is aimed for the world’s oyster. She is the nacre mother of pearl. The restrained flutter of “Hot Hot” is intoxicating in its finesse, her fingers shimmering over her fretboard with apparent ease. Its her tired vocals that really fascinate, coming directly from the subterranean crevices of her soul. “How Could We Live Before” is more of the same, perhaps a reflection on her youthful hardship, comfortable with her art and her vision, expressing it without compromise. I believe it’s called maturity, and this is what all musicians try to aspire to.
The finale is a fabulous piece that keeps the intensity of her vocal prowess fully on as “Colours on Hormones” is the convincing nail in the proverbial coffin. So, this surely is not prog in its symphonic, neo, crossover, fusion, or metal sense but an authentic musical divertissement that has a time and space well deserved in your daily routine. It’s fun, mostly upbeat, original, heartfelt, and enjoyable.”
4.5 Wallachian stories
by Thomas Szirmay
… from Romania, has recently (in its issue from September 2022) graced my musical efforts with a favourable album chronicle, by noteworthy author Doru Ionescu, in their official monthly magazine “Actualitatea muzicala” (The musical Actuality).
“A German of Romanian origins with the most spectacular rise of all Romanian pop-rock musicians in the last years. Laudative cronicles, votes from music lovers and journalists all over Europe. I’d call her a self-made woman. She sings and plays the electric guitar, solo or in various combinations, duo, trio […]
And it wasn’t the effort of re-establishing herself in a new country that was the key moment in Ana’s life, but getting affected by tendinitis, a sickness which ends your music career if you’re a guitar player. Though she pushed through and got over everything. What didn’t bring her down made her stronger. That hardship proved to bring out her best resources for getting well and seeing her ambition come true: recording the album she’s always dreamed of. […]”
I have the honor of being included in a documentary/interview on Romanian musicians across the globe that is being aired on July 2 2022 at 22 Romanian time on national TV post TVR3.
Hat Tip to Doru Ionescu and his professional team of young journalists, of which interviewer Iona Ivaș (13) was a beautiful surprise!
Here’s a video of the transmission https://youtu.be/sR3g59P983o
Featured in leatest issue (February 2022) of prestigious German magazine Gitarre & Bass, with an interview on three pages, conducted by the versed Heinz Rebellius!
The essence of a two-hours-long discussion online – and probably the longest I’ve been talking about guitars ever. Not that I don’t like guitars – I am quite fascinated by this graceful and versatile instrument, but more than talking about them I like to fight them! 😉 (alluding to the last part of the text, which I intend to translate from German and post here soon.)
Back to Gitarre & Bass, this is the magazine I’ve been collecting and studying with for so many years, and, like any musician in Germany I suppose, worshipping to bits! That’s why it’s still difficult for me to believe this has just happened! Thanks to Klemens Möllenbeck (credits for the pic above), and to one more friend in Germany, Johannes Leitner, who sent prompt photos and provided some sort of proof!
Absolutely thrilled to be a contributor on Devin Townsend’s latest double-album The Puzzle/Snuggles!!
(here an article by Greg Kennelty for Metal Injection listing everyone’s names: https://metalinjection.net/av/full-album-stream/devin-townsend-streams-new-albums-the-puzzle-snuggles )
There seems to be a belief that one can never talk enough about guitars, play enough guitars or look at enough pictures of guitars. I don’t share that belief, but I do happen to be in the game somehow, so when I’m asked about my view on guitars I will give it (in a way that won’t have me crucified by the community, of course). There were more pics to choose from, but mostly the ones containing legs made it in the final version of this Darkstars Guitar Special article. You’ll find the link below, together with a small fragment from the interview, hope you enjoy!
“The guitar is such a versatile tool, can cover such diverse grounds and replace so many instruments, it can lay down pads, fill up gaps, give accents, keep a groove, decorate where necessary. Can take a song anywhere, giving it dreaminess, melody or edge, getting it to soothe or shock, or just support it in a simple way. There’s so much to do on the guitar, I’m surprised of any guitarist practicing to sound like another guitarist, when there are so many unexplored options. In fact, that’s why I was forced to pick up the guitar myself, in lack of a supporting, sensitive guitar player who wouldn’t play millions of notes a minute to show off his technical skills.”
It means a lot to me, when my work is being appreciated back home!
Grateful for some cheering from reputed Romanian music journalist Alex Revenco in this article describing my career from its first sparks in Romania to my latest achievements – of which I am indeed proud! Thank you!
“It is a compositional “tour de force” in the jazz-rock field, with thoughtful lyrics, celebrating the sprightliness of life. Although surrounded by high-calibre musicians like Zoltan Csörsz (Flower Kings) -drums, Jonas Hellborg (Ginger Baker, John McLaughlin etc.)- bass, plus the famed Devin Townsend (who’s playing…bass on the song “Trivialize Love”), they not only avoid taking over, but also highlight Ana and her compositions (music and text). This I find remarcable!”
24 years ago, journalist Alex Revenco was announcing in a main newspaper my winning of a quite important music festival, back in native Romania. Now he is reporting again, on some of my music adventures since, the new album and the remarcable musicians that have been providing all the help and inspiration for this marathon project.