Hungarian goth band, F.O. System
Having worked in record stores most of my life, the one question I’ve been asked more than any other is the dreaded “what are you listening to lately?” I say “dreaded” because there’s this entire process of cold-reading the asker before an answer can be formulated. Generally the person posing the question is looking for shopping advice, and I find myself lying about my current playlist, simply because the Dave Matthews fan trying to pick my brain doesn’t really need my Flux of Pink Indians The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks recommendation. I always get a little neurotic when asked this question, because I feel like giving a legitimately truthful answer only serves to make me look like the pretentious record store asshole that I might actually be.
Being one of those uberhip “you’ve probably never heard of them” douchenozzles is the last thing in the world I want to be identified as, so all I can really do is try to share and never judge. But sometimes, unintentionally, the answer to that dreaded question just sounds like you’re a too-cool-for-school try-hard. Go ahead. Ask me what I’m listening to lately.
OK, I’ll tell you.
Lately I’m listening to a lot of Hungarian goth.
See?! I can’t even say it out loud without feeling like “that guy”—but I digress. With it right here out in the open, I can at least tell you about this best band ever that’s currently rocking my world—or, as is the case with Hungarian goth—is currently reflecting the blackness of my empty soul.
I was recently reading the absolutely essential Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace: The Worldwide Compendium of Postpunk and Goth in the 1980s, and noting band names I was unfamiliar with. One of the groups, detailed in a section about goth behind the Iron Curtain, was Hungary’s F.O. System (AKA Fuck Off System or F.O.).
Going directly to the Internet to learn more, I found that there’s very little information on the group—and what little information there is, is in Hungarian. Thank the gods of technology for Google translate.
F.O. System. From the band’s Facebook page.
F.O. System was one of many bands that came out of a scene centered around Fekete Lyuk, or “The Black Hole,” which was a Budapest nightclub. The group was founded in 1986 by Attila Matyas and Csaba Jerabek, and existed until 1991. F.O. System are considered one of the first goth bands out of Hungary. They quickly outgrew The Black Hole club, playing several major festivals, and opening for New Model Army and Christian Death. They toured what was then West Germany, before disbanding. Years later, they played a series of reunion shows, having performed as recently as 2013. Their 1988 demo tape is a total fucking classic of the genre.
“Day of the Gloom” demo cassette
F.O. System’s influences are apparent in their sound. You’ll hear shades of The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, and certainly Bauhaus—but the sum of these parts is something totally unique, and undoubtedly eastern European. There is something very bleak and grey about the region that is reflected in the sound of bands such as F.O. System. You get the sense that this is no ennui-inspired suburban affectation—this is the real deal.
This video for their song “Ne Félj” is as good as anything the entire goth genre has to offer. It’s one of those songs I find myself putting on and just replaying over and over. Judge for yourself:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
How your pretentious local record store asshole got that way