Phil Minton / Szilárd Mezei – Two Lives


1. Fourth (38:25)
2. Sixth (36:08)


· Phil Minton: voice
· Szilárd Mezei: viola


All music by Phil Minton (PRS) & Szilárd Mezei (SOKOJ / STIM)
Track 1 recorded at Kosztolányi Dezső Theater in Subotica, Serbia on 24/5/2022
Track 2 recorded at Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade, Serbia on 26/5/2022
Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Szilárd Mezei / LVA
Liner notes by Massimo Ricci
Cover artwork by Erzsébet Mezei
Photos by Borisz Takács / Grand Café, Szeged
Graphic design by László Szakács
Produced by László Juhász


The rarity of artists capable of flying at the same expressive heights as Phil Minton and Szilárd Mezei coincides, for this writer, with the increasingly pressing urge to escape from the mediocrity which is slowly attempting to take control even in the realm of improvisation and (theoretical) avantgarde. Barring the recurring occasions when prepaid reviews enthusiastically paint scenarios that absolutely do not correspond to a sad reality of appearance in place of substance, a sizable chunk of the music extolled nowadays by the specialized reference publications and disseminated by politically funded organizations has definitely lost steam, or – if so preferred – soul.

That is certainly not the case with Two Lives. Its straightforward title highlights the commitment of a pair of profound musicians to making their existence and that of their listeners significant, as well as the more glaring fact that both of the recordings featured here were captured in concert. From the first seconds of interchange, and through the entire set, Mezei and Minton completely disintegrate any temporal and overly intellectual dimension. They prefer to leap into nothingness without using any other parachute except a joint “in the moment” awareness, benefiting from inspiration currents whose transience is directly correlated with persistence, furnishing us with emotive peaks and snapshots of pristine beauty.

This unconstrained music systematically regenerates itself, utilizing every aspect and nuance of improvisational talent and, when required, relying on silence. Each time, it appears uniquely imaginative while still possessing fundamental features that the connoisseurs will immediately recognize. When an audience is perceived by the artist as open to the proper message, excellent skill and the pursuit of the previously unheard combine, producing instances of the finest craftsmanship. Accordingly, this broad-minded vocal/viola combination seizes ephemeral instants out of nowhere in a stream of acoustic images whose poetics are self-explanatory.

Should a faint inner smile appear, thinking of a much better past as you listen to these evolutions, please understand that some beings, in an unsatisfactory contemporaneity, have the role of reminding people of an important dictum: do not regret because it is finished, rejoice because it existed. We owe Minton and Mezei a debt of gratitude for unintentionally adopting this position, and once again providing what is needed for further in-depth examinations of our connections to the intangible. That is, what sustains our very earthly animateness.

Massimo Ricci /
June 2023



Released: November 2023 / first edition of 300 cds
Direct purchase: Bandcamp / Discogs





“Two Lives presents two idiosyncratic and prolific, masters of free improvisers – British vocal artist Phil Minton and Hungarian, Serbia-based violist Szilárd Mezei (who is also a double bass player), a generation younger than Minton – captured flying on beautiful, expressive heights, in two live sets during a short tour in Serbia in May 2022, at Kosztolányi Dezső Theater in Subotica and two days later at Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade. Two Lives is the first album that documents this unique collaboration. Mezei recorded, edited, mixed and mastered this album.

The two extended sets Fourth and Sixth offer 75 minutes of the art of the moment – spontaneous, direct, inspiring, imaginative, eccentric, emotional, dramatic and transient. Writer and critic Massimo Ricci (of observed in his liner notes that the ‘unconstrained music systematically regenerates itself, utilizing every aspect and nuance of improvisational talent and, when required, relying on silence… this broad-minded vocal/viola combination seizes ephemeral instants out of nowhere in a stream of acoustic images whose poetics are self-explanatory’.

Minton and Mezei converse in an intimate, cryptic and poetic language, playfully exchanging personal secrets, stories and experiences and enjoying their immediate, deep rapport as well as the flowing stream of ideas, including flirting with themes of folk songs. The first duet is more reserved and introspective while the second one is more extrovert and joyful. They explore their almost infinite connections to the intangible, and as Ricci reminds us, this is what sustains our very earthly animateness.” / Eyal Hareuveni, Salt Peanuts*, 18 February 2024


“Had the inventor of the CD loved a complete Ring Des Nibulungen on one CD, it could have hold so much music for the rest of us, but I believe it was Beethoven’s fifth symphony that determined the length to 80 minutes. I am of the variety that loves CDs, but also it’s not necessary to fill them completely. Here we have two concerts recordings by Phil Minton (voice) and Szilárd Mezei (viola), hence the somewhat dull title of the release. I assume they were touring and on this CD we find Fourth and Sixth, recorded two days apart in May 2022. Both are around 37 minutes, which is quite a sit, of you decide to play both in one go (and yes, do not contact me to tell me that’s not necessary; others beat you to that a long time ago). Any release with demanding improvised music, lasting more than 40 minutes, is a long release, and what Mezei and Minton do is certainly demanding. Minton has an expressive voice, not unlike that of Jaap Blonk and combined with the violin of Mezei this brings ditto expressive music. As differences between both concerts I noted that the second seemed a bit sparser than the first; or maybe both players have some distance to the microphone? There is that hectic playing, inherent to improvised music and there is also quite a bit of drama. I have a slight preference for Fourth, which seemed to contain most drama, most action and most expression. Why this attracted to me? I don’t know; it might be easily the other way round, the next time I hear this CD.” / Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, 12 March 2024





· The Wire: Adventures In Music And Sound at Resonance FM, London, 15 June 2023
· No Wave at Tilos Rádió, Budapest, 7 April 2024