Jizní Amnésie

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If one listened to certain parts of Jizní Amnésie without hearing the entire album, it would be easy to assume that Taliesyn was from somewhere in Ireland or Scotland. This folk-rock band is very Celtic-influenced, and lead singer Jan Bicovský has no problem singing in perfect English. However, Bicovský also has no problem singing in perfect Czech, which would be unusual for a singer who grew up in Dublin, Glasgow, Belfast, or Edinburgh. But then, Taliesyn isn't from any of those cities; Taliesyn is from Prague, the largest city in the Czech Republic -- and this is not a traditional Celtic CD. Rather, Jizní Amnésie is a bilingual folk-rock album that gets a great deal of inspiration from Celtic music (both the Irish and Scottish varieties) but has other influences as well. Many of the songs have jazz-influenced passages, and a few of them incorporate Middle Eastern elements. Instruments associated with Celtic music are used on this 2006 recording (including flutes, whistles, and the Celtic harp), but so are some instruments that are hardly traditional Celtic instruments. For example, Bicovský plays the bouzouki -- an instrument that is closely identified with Greek music -- on "Birds of the Hills," "Leaden Bible," "Wail-a-Way," and a few other tracks. And even though the bouzouki is an instrument that brings to mind the Never on Sunday soundtrack rather than albums by Tommy Makem or the Clancy Brothers, Bicovský's use of the Greek instrument doesn't make Jizní Amnésie sound any less Celtic-influenced. Jizní Amnésie is definitely risk-taking, but thankfully, this 45-minute disc never comes across as forced or unnatural; everything sounds totally organic. And Taliesyn deserves applause for providing an excellent album that manages to sound experimental and quite rootsy at the same time.

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