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Trabant

From Unearthing The Music

Trabant. Photo taken from the band's Discogs page (https://www.discogs.com/artist/2962488-Trabant-3)

Trabant was one of the most popular Hungarian underground and new wave music bands, active between 1980 and 1985. The members were Gábor Lukin (composer, guitar, piano, recording, copying, archiving, covers), Marietta Méhes (song, lyrics) and János Vető (poems, percussion instruments, song).

The group began as a bedroom band, making records with tape recorders, music instruments, and equipment (much of which purchased in a toy store) at Lukin’s apartment. They did not hold concerts for years, with audiences knowing them only from the cassettes they released. The band played a central role in János Xantus’s film Eszkimó asszony fázik [The Eskimo Woman is Freezing) in 1984. Xantus’s movie is a typical representation of Hungarian film art of the 1980s, the so-called new sensibility, which merged a neo-avantgarde style with postmodern irony. These films often showed contemporary new wave bands from Budapest. Trabant composed the music, the film's protagonist was Marietta Méhes, and the whole story was built up around her and the band. The songs played in these films were also important, seeing as these bands had no other opportunities to release their records officially - otherwise, their tracks were disseminated as homemade tape recordings.

It was typical of the time that avant-garde, alternative rock bands like Trabant cooperated amongst themselves, and their members often played in other groups. There was a significant overlap among performers and the repertoire in their performances as well. Moreover, representatives of the different artistic spheres collaborated too: Music, fine art, theatre, film, literature were brought together in the events and projects of the underground cultural life. Thus we can regard these communities around the bands as an intellectual, artistic studio.

In the late 70s and the early 80s avant-garde rock bands appeared with liberating power in the Hungarian rock music. They expressed thoughts which had never related earlier and allowed suppressed passions to emerge in the declining Kádár-era. They brought fresh air to the music scene and offered new kinds of world views. While most bands (like Spions, VHK, URH, Kontroll Csoport) reacted with anger to the lies and suppression of discourse of the communist regime, Trabant reacted with a kind of passivity of passions, and this resigned attitude created a new type of poetic dream world.

Trabant's music was similar to that of the Velvet Underground in New York, and they explored music genres very freely. The band played inside four walls, and their home-copied cassettes were very much in demand. Trabant built up their own inner world and there was a sense that they created music for themselves only. At the same time, they built a strange wall between them and their audience.

In 2011 a film was created about the story of the band (directed by Lili Horváth), entitled “Ragaszthatatlan szív”, the title of a Trabant song.

Filmography

While Trabant does not have a discography in the proper sense, the body of hundred-and-some individual recordings is being collected, organised and prepared by Gábor Lukin for future release, and part of it has been merged into other bands' repertoires in various covers and arrangements. The band, however, appears in a number of feature and documentary films.

  • Időt töltök (Zoltán Gazsi, documentary on the band filmed 1982-1984, released 1993)
  • Eszkimó asszony fázik (János Xantus 1984)
  • Diorissimo (János Xantus 1980)
  • Members with A. E. Bizottság: Kutya éji dala (Gábor Bódy 1983)

External links