Twenty-first music presentation session for the blind and visually handicapped took place on 15th of January 2020 in the presentation room of Czech agency SONS (Czech Blind United) in Prague. I was really honored for very positive feedback from the previous sessions, therefore I prepared a playlist based on visitors’ preferences and also added some pieces to expand their musical horizons. You can find the background of this story in an article about the first session here.
List of songs and their final scores:
Congratulations to Red, Alcest and Alt-J.
|01 – Red – Already Over||19|
|02 – Altın Gün – Goca Dünya (Live)||3|
|03 – Mansur Brown – Mashita (live)||11.5|
|04 – Gaahls WYRD – Carving The Voices||10|
|05 – Alcest – Sapphire||13.5|
|06 – Audience Vote #1 – Budka Suflera – Jolka, Jolka (Live)||6.5|
|07 – Lingua Ignota – May Failure Be Your Noose||6.5|
|08 – Yussef Dayes – Duality (For My Ladies & Othello)||8.5|
|09 – Justin Lavash – Harder and Harder||10|
|10 – Algiers – Death March (Live)||6|
|11 – Audience Vote #2 – Alt-J – Taro (Live)||12|
|12 – Bonus – Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All (Live)||8|
During the previous sessions I have used number of songs which I truly love, therefore it is getting more challenging to come up with more and more songs. Luckily there are many that I come up based on listeners’ feedback or from my current journalism or personal experiences, which I share in between songs. My guests surprise me each time with their preferences, which pushes me to pick “extremes”. I usually concentrate on prog rock or ambient jazz, but I am more than open to add everything from experimental metal through avant-garde electronics or lounge jazzy pop.
It’s a tradition we start with something heavy and energetic. For the start I picked an American band Red. I discovered them years ago funny enough through a Czech mainstream music TV Óčko. Who cares, I discovered Alter Bridge the same way. Same as Alter Bridge, these guys are filling up concert halls all over the states. On the other hand, that’s not the case in Europe. I keep a great memory of their first show in Prague in 2013, where there was about thirty of us. We conducted an interview shortly before the show and we spoke about that frustration too. They were and still are big in the USA but that day they were freezing, on the edge of Prague playing for a few fans. On the other hand, these things are part of band’s journey. They have recently announced another European tour and you should see the reactions of those few who saw them in 2013 at Chmelnice club being cool around those who discovered them in the meantime. Their debut album End Of Silence from 2006 is truly a masterpiece and it was a tough choice between Break Me Down and Already Over, but the single with a video made it on the playlist and as you can see it did really well. Who said you cannot win, if you are first on the line? Congrats for the first place and we are all looking forward for your next Prague show guys.
Part of my music journalism portfolio is also working for Czech radio Expres FM. I am enjoying this new experience where I am preparing every week a minute and a half culture promo, which is rotating couple of times a day throughout the week. I am promoting cool music shows, alternative theater performances or solid stand-up shows. Music section naturally plays the major role and I tend to discover so many cool bands coming to Prague. One of them was also Dutch band Altın Gün working with great psychedelic folk elements from Turkish music.
If somebody came up to me and said: “You have one track to listen to before you’ll die,” I would go for a track Love Is The Message recorded live in Abbey Road studios by four London jazz masters: Alfa Mist, Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown & Rocco Palladino. Next to this track I am a massive fan of solo works of all members. Next to Alfa Mist, I was mainly blown away by solo stuff from a guitarist Mansur Brown. His debut solo album Shiroi is a fascinating work and I am really glad he recorded one track live on a video. Mashita ended up very close under top three slots, but I believe it brought peace to the room, which is Mansur’s main motivation I believe. God bless you.
Next to modern jazz and progressive rock, I do have an interest in many other genres. Lately, due a joint tour of Mayhem and Gaahls Wyrd, I invested a lot of time and energy analyzing works of these black metal icons. Especially new project of Gaahl speaks to me the most by its dark ambient atmosphere and inspirational message of rough personal progress.
You can find more in our recent video interview.
French ambient metal masters are very well known by my audience, as we went to see them live in 2017 with couple of my stable guests as they were supporting Anathema. I must say Spiritual Instinct album is definitely my most favorite from their discography and a track called Sapphire was an instant jackpot. And I didn’t mind, it was slightly too pushy on YouTube during its release. Protection and many other tracks are also just damn impressive authentically working with post rock/shoegaze and black metal elements.
It became a tradition, two guests per each session can pick a track and tell us what it means to him or her. I was really glad, Jan Szkatula, SONS technician, picked a track, as he is also supporting us with impressive sound system. He chose a track from legendary Polish rock band Budka Suflera. Especially as he still has in his memory early days, where censorship worked really hard in Czechoslovakia, but Polish neighbors were doing well within local production and spreading good music via Polish radio. Czechoslovaks managed to record plenty of discographies from rock legends and discover Polish talents at the same time.
After The Break
Over the years I came across number of artists which blew my mind, but at the same time there were some confusing in a way. Lately I do enjoy plenty of melancholic music or in some cases very dark but with something positive I can grab from. In the case of Lingua Ignota I was absolutely amazed by its power, anger and emotional blast. But on the other hand, there are still plenty of confusing things and a couple of question I need to clarify, before I could fall in love with it totally. Especially regarding her image and marketing activities. But so far, I am just amazed with her lyrics, which do not offer any positive solution at all. Maybe only one: Try to be strong enough to handle such a powerful flow of emotions and do not allow it to put you down. Just keep observing and studying it.
After this powerful intro of the second half, it was time for another member of Love Is the Message crew. If Mansur Brown is a very religious and peaceful person, Yussef Dayes seems as a London tiger living pretty wild life. Whether it’s true or not, he manages to bring great musicians around him and stay very active. Great example are his two latest singles For My Ladies & Othello which he brilliantly combined into one video called Duality.
Throughout previous months I spoke to many great Czech artists but on the Czech scene, there is also one awesome guy, which is not exactly Czech. Justin Lavash is actually British, but he is part my homeland’s scene for many years now. Even though he could be filling big concert halls, he loves to bring his energetic folk/blues show into small venues and working class bars. We conducted a very inspirational video interview and I just cannot wait to see him live again.
If Justin Lavash is a man of underground, American band Algiers are spreading their name heavily throughout the world pretty loud. It is really hard to define their sound but I usually go for a mix between blues, gospel and afro-folk. They are building their position in Czech Republic quite intensively and will be coming to Prague again in a couple of weeks to promote their new album. That’s why I spoke to their drummer recently, which was one of the first interviews I did for a Czech magazine I recently joined called Headliner. Here is the interview in Czech.
Getting towards the end it was a time for another vote from the audience and this time it was my friend Zuzana. It was very important song for her during her stay in Manchester and she also shared with us the story of this track: “Gerda Taro was a war photojournalist in the 1930 – 40s. She died in her line of work when a tank collided into the side of a car she was riding on. The subject of this song is Gerda’s romantic interest and colleague, Robert Capa.”
I always put bonus spot on the playlist to have a space if we have a cool guest, special occasion or I might just cancel it, if we don’t have time. We were managing though, plus there were few older ladies in the audience, so in order to balance the whole ambient black/heavy blues or smooth jazz thing, I brought a track which is sort of my guilty pleasure. It’s Whitney Houston’s song Greatest Love of All, which I discovered based on the scene from Coming to America movie. You know, Randy Watson and his Sexual Chocolate band. Simply breathtaking performance of Whitney and such a shame, we lost this legend due to drugs.
Next session is planned for 5th of February.