Slede, Zivé Slede

Rostliny! Rostliny!

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Slede, Zivé Slede's third album, Rostliny! Rostliny!, (Plants! Plants!) is a beautiful piece of work. To the skilled songwriting the group added extra production this time around, giving special care to atmospheres. Ivan Palacky (guitar, vocals) wrote most of the music and lyrics. The instrumentation of guitar, double bass (Jennifer Helia de Felice), and bassoon/clarinet (Brona Smid) brings out both the antiquated and fresh sides of the pieces, riding the fence between Czech folk and avant-garde songwriting. An impressive roster of guests contribute touches here and there, including Pluto bassist Tomás Fröhlich (also responsible for the mix), Boo and Rale cellist Andrea Kostankiewicz, and Volapük violinist Takumi Fukushima. Three songs ("Brussels," "Fair Warning," and "Jack") are sung in English by Felice, everything else is in Czech (the booklet contains English translations). The music lies somewhere between new klezmer ("Plants!") and the medieval progressive rock stylings of Gryphon, an obligatory reference thanks to the bassoon and use of counterpoint (especially in "Jelizaveta in the Kitchen," a highlight). Felice's bass work pushes the music toward avant-garde territory, but overall Rostliny! Rostliny! remains melodious, charming, definitely different, and challenging. Fans of Iva Bittová and Rale will be pleased; those interested in Gryphon and even Gentle Giant should also give it a try.

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