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Simply put, Cinna's Ctvrtek (Thursday) is a beautiful album of intelligent songs, enjoyable whether you understand Czech or not. Of course, Petr Komár Soudek's lyrics are essential to the music, but the English translations in the booklet take care of that. His sense of poetry strongly recalls Peter Hammill's way with words. His images are vivid but permeable to multiple interpretations. Zdenek Hmyzák Novák's vocal delivery also points to Hammill for inspiration (the key role of the piano in the instrumentation is another similarity), but the intensity of the Englishman's voice is tempered by an occasional detachment closer to France's Renaud. In any case, this remains in the field of singer/songwriters. Of course, the songs have a Slavic element and a Czech sensibility for big dynamics, enhanced by producer Miroslav Wanek, leader of the avant rock group Uz Jsme Doma. Soft piano/vocal pieces like "Koráb a Krab" and the touching "Hanicka" (with guest At'a Lukes on cello) temper more rockish numbers. In "Bigbelki," Soudek and Novák engage in a rare trumpet duet over a raging rhythm section. The opener, "Smíchov," "Le Son Polisson" (sung in French), and the swinging "Hrosi" (a song about hippopotami) bring more highlights to this great album. Strongly recommended.

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