Já Sa Kona Bojím

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Ever since the Velvet Revolution, and even more so since the late '90s, there has been an abundance of new folk groups in the Czech Republic, be they of traditional or folk-rock allegiance, or something in between. On this debut album, Konaboj chooses a light rock format that transforms the repertoires they engage (Slovak, Moravian, Russian, and a few other East European folklores) into pretty songs, somewhat naïve and a bit too remote from their origins. The group's arrangements are built over a core tension. On one side is the electric guitar of David Rehák, who plays his solos and licks rock style; on the other are the various flutes (recorders, fifes, and transverse flutes) of Dása Bukvaldová, who gives the songs a pastoral feel that sharply contrasts with the rock leanings. In between them, drummer Karel Dufek and electric bassist Martin Straka make up a pounding rhythm section, while singer/acoustic guitarist Kirka Smukarová and acoustic bassist Tomás Béza lean more toward a traditional folk delivery. And between these two tendencies, the songs end up drained of their life force and presented almost like pop songs. Thus, the album comes through as a light, cute, but rather empty venture, especially when compared to the music of Gothart, Teagrass, Traband, Tomás Kocko, or Docuku. Bukvaldová's angelic voice and the pretty aspects of the music (the flutes, the group singing) occasionally evoke Polish proggers Quidam -- in fact, Smukarová's voice is Konaboj's strongest asset, and you might want to give this CD a shot just to appreciate the purity of her singing. But otherwise, and despite some strong numbers, like "Daj Ne Boze Synka," "Hore Tyncem Idu," "Kukula Kukacka," or "Stoji Kaca -- Zal" (the latter previously released on the Indies compilation Carohraní), Já Sa Kona Bojím is only an average proposition in a land bursting with exciting young folk acts.

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