Vladimír Václavek

Písne Nepísne

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Vladimír Václavek's first significant solo album since the release of his much-praised collaboration with Iva Bittová, Bilé Inferno, Písne Nepísne sees him back in acoustic mode. It is a collection of quiet, understated songs. They require several listens for their charm to work (especially for Czech-deaf listeners), and even then remain somewhat slightly unsatisfying. Václavek's songwriting is graceful, but on this album his melodies lack character and the intimate setting (arrangements are kept very simple) becomes tiresome in the long run. Václavek, on guitar, vocals, and percussion, occupies most of the spotlight. Double bassist Jaromír Honzák, guitarist Peter Binder, violist Martina Himerová, and a few other friends appear here and there. The songwriter drew inspiration from poems by Federico García Lorca, Bohuslav Reynek, and Antoním Prídal. One of the strong songs, the opening "Sen" ("The Dream," one of the Lorca poems), sets a mood that will not be significantly disturbed in the course of the following hour (except for the concluding "Sedím Si," a squeaky toys and shakers affair). "Drakuv Let" ("Dragon's Flight") stands out on first listen, its melody being much stronger (and, in fact, reminiscent of the Iva Bittová collaboration). "Blázen" ("Madman") also hits a higher level. On the other hand, the two longer pieces, "Ptací Herci" (ten minutes) and "Shinanai" (11 minutes), never justify their duration. The former stretches its motif for far too long, while the latter attempts to hide a lack of substance with harder-sounding and shifting arrangements -- Peter Binder's electric guitar work is interesting, but not enough to balance out the piece's shortcomings. In short, Písne Nepísne is an album of ups and downs; it will appeal to fans of the man, but probably won't win him new ones.

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