Album Review: The Homing Bird’s Trace by River Flows Reverse

River Flows Reverse comes to us from Hungary, but they’re not actually a band. And The Homing Bird’s Trace, the music they created during the early days of the pandemic, is a hauntingly beautiful, somewhat-improvisational jam session recorded when said musicians were bored and unable to play shows.

The members of River Flows Reverse come from Hungary’s Psychedelic Source Records and the Prog outfit Lemurian Folk Songs. Psychedelic Source Records, according to its Bandcamp page, is a Hungarian psychedelic rock collective, and judging by their page, they’ve released an excellent output of interesting psych music over the years. These friends apparently recorded Homing Bird’s Trace in a cold shed in the middle of a muddy Hungarian forest.

This seems to me a deeply personal album, something the artists don’t care much about how much reach it gets or how many plays it stacks up in our performance-obsessed digital world. They made it simply because they wanted to and released it into the wild for our listening pleasure. Take it or leave it, this recording may one day be discovered by someone digging for obscure psychedelic music and find it like a message in a bottle in a record store somewhere in the world.

The musicians playing on the record are Kriszti Benus (vocals), Lőrinc Sántha (vocals), Nico Delmas (trumpet), Gergely Gadolla, and Bence Ambrus (various other instruments).

About The Homing Bird’s Trace

The Bandcamp version of the record I listened to included seven songs. The album serves as a homage to the natural world, and the musicians say as much on their page: “Humans with souls folded by demons are the ones who have turned away from nature. But birds will keep on homing until the very end, rivers still run till they run dry, and lakes’ depths are truly the deepest black.”

This could be a commentary on how some of us live now, tethered to our devices and divorced from nature. However, after listening to the album, it’s apparent these musicians are more deeply attuned to the earth’s natural rhythms.

The album starts with “Demons,” a haunting ballad that sets the tone for the listener. There are lighter tones to the song and ethereal vocals, but the nagging sense that something is not right underneath. It’s like the music is speaking to us, telling us to turn away from our destruction of the planet. I don’t have much hope that will happen, but the track is at least a reprieve from the maddening news of the world every day.

“Seconds” follows, flowing in with a trumpet and jazzy feel. It’s one of the longer songs, nearly eight minutes. Like all the songs, it’s drenched in mystery and paints a textured pastoral scene. The river flows in reverse, softly and never waking you from the early Pink Floyd-esque dream sequence. Now comes “Black Lake,” more acid folk with darker tones, reminding us that nature is serene and beautiful but has a nightmarish side, too. The vocals are reminiscent of first wave ‘60s psychedelia with a deeper inflection.

“Birds” was perhaps my favorite track, running nearly 11 minutes. The vocals are soft, whispered, beckoning. While this track and many of the songs feel melancholic, the musicians make clear this is not intended to be a sad record. They say depression is “a new-age bullshit for boring, blinkered people.”

“Karneval III” comes after “Birds,” mostly instrumental with strange, soothing sounds and improvised guitar-playing. Finally, “Shadows” closes the album, yet another moody, neo-folk piece featuring some beautiful banjo playing.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to unpack with this album, and it’ll appeal to fans of psych and neo-folk. Some of these songs have a murder-ballad feel and a haunting aspect, but that doesn’t seem to be the band’s intent. The music was recorded “haphazardly” over a period, as they said, and made for the love of it. It gave me the feeling that I was listening to something that, maybe, had no intention of even being released into the world.

Since River Flows Reverse is not a proper band, they may never make another record again, but we can be thankful they recorded this one. Psychedelic Source Records from Hungary will be on my radar, for sure, and I can’t wait to dig into their back catalog on Bandcamp to see what else they’ve produced.

Here’s the Bandcamp link to The Homing Bird’s Trace by River Flows Reverse. Support Psychedelic Source Records by checking out their Bandcamp or find them on Facebook.

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