Twenty-sixth music presentation session for the blind and visually handicapped took place on the 25th of August 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 Alicia Keys, Katatonia and Morcheeba
|01 – The Beatles – Clarabella (Live At The BBC)||1|
|02 – Katatonia – Untrodden||16.5|
|03 – Turnover – Much After Feeling||4.5|
|04 – Scorpions – Evening Wind||13|
|05 – Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan||14.5|
|06 – Audience choice #1 – Morcheeba – The Sea||15|
|07 – Armando Trovajoli – In The Dark||12.5|
|08 – Kendrick Lamar – How Much A Dollar Cost||4.5|
|09 – Seventh Key – Missy||10|
|10 – Audience choice #2 – Indukti – Ninth Wave||12.5|
|11 – Bonus – Alicia Keys – Falling (Live)||17|
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 experiment within genres. 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.
In the previous session, I shared with the audience George Harrison’s taste for Indian music. It’s always great to return to the works of The Beatles and I still have a massive respect for their greatest hits, but it gives me bigger pleasure to dig and find lesser known treasures, as the live version of the track Clarabella from Live At The BBC.
During the first days of pandemic isolation I tried to concentrate on work rather than watching too much news. I was asked by my sister, working in one Prague’s reproduction clinic, to translate some medical texts from English into Serbian. My soundtrack throughout the whole translation process were Swedish atmospheric metal masters Katatonia. I am their big fan since their 2009 album Night Is the New Day. I love their earlier albums, as well as albums following 2009 masterpiece. However, only one piece that didn’t fit in the puzzle for me was their The Fall of Hearts album from 2016. There were no points to grab on to in a grey fog. I don’t want to say there are “not enough strong ideas”, but it simply didn’t hit me. Therefore I was really excited from their latest album City Burials including an amazing track Untrodden with a breathtaking guitar solo. Many of the guests agreed with me, as you can see in the score. There was one great comment after the session: “Katatonia and the track you played us simply has everything. Depth, heaviness and a soul.”
Before the pandemic, one of the activities, I was involved in, was a position in Prague’s radio called Expres FM. As it belongs in the Seznam group, where I worked in the TV as a music reporter for a year. They offered to take care of the culture weekly show to promote music shows, theater plays, exhibitions or stand-up comedy shows. I mainly enjoyed digging in the weekly music shows offers and discovering new bands. I did not ignore hip hop or dance music artists, as I found there some cool tips too, but I gladly gave slightly more space to the artists which really impressed me within other genres. One of the greatest discoveries were indie pop rock shoegaze band called Turnover. Next to their awesome track Much After Feeling check also their full album Altogether from 2019.
Following an interview with Katatonia and a great retro touch of Turnover, I ended up in the old school waters. Katatonia members are big fans of Judas Priest track Night Comes Down, especially for its atmosphere and an overall energy. When I asked Katatonia fans on the band’s Facebook group, I received one great tip and it was Scorpion’s lesser known track Evening Wind. Simply impressive track, which became for many weeks a soundtrack for my morning workouts.
This year marks a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath debut’s album and their following album Paranoid, which came up late 1970. I will include in of the following events tracks from projects Jazz Sabbath or Zakk Sabbath. However, this time it was a great moment to include Black Sabbath’s unique atmospheric track Planet Caravan, as it was used to wake up astronauts on the recent SpaceX mission.
First Audience Choice
During the recent months my main source of income were language classes I do organize, while the culture world is in a shock. Next to rising number of students of Serbian, I also gathered number of students of English, ranging from total beginners to advanced students, which need to work on their self-confidence in talking, vocabulary and accent. One of the coolest students I was having during the previous months is Coca Cola CZ office manager Jorga. Next to many great chats we also share great passion for music. She stepped by and played us her favorite track The Sea from Morcheeba.
The Second Half
One of the most stable guests is Mrs. Vondráčková, older lady, accompanied every time by her assistant dog. Extremely friendly woman, who is studying Spanish and Portuguese. I am always trying to find a track for her. If not in those languages, at least from South Europe. I am a big fan of a movie Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino and I recently found its original version from 1974 called Profumo di donna. This Italian movie adaptation of a book from Giovanni Arpino is not as accessible as the American version, mainly because of eccentric/aggressive acting style of Vittorio Gassman compared to occasionally choleric Al Pacino. However it has an incredible soundtrack, including In The Dark from Armando Trovajoli.
Throughout the years, I played number of surprising pieces, but I never played rap. Not that I don’t respect this genre, but there weren’t many artists, which could fit for a general audience. However, after couple of weeks, which I spent with Kendrick Lamar’s extremely acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, I had number of candidates. I was mainly surprised from how many sources I received a recommended for this album, including metal or prog rock sources. Not mentioning inspirational lyrics and fascinating genre definitions as conscious hip hop or jazz rap.
One of the main concert plans I had or this autumn, before everything got cancelled was a show of legendary rock group Kansas. My dad is a massive fan and I wanted to arrange a front cover interview with them and take my dad for one of the shows in Germany. Mainly, I wanted to talk to their bass player Billy Greer, as me and my dad, we have a big thing for his side project Seventh Key. As this presentation included number of classic rock tracks, I wanted to share lesser known diamond and that’s Seventh Key’s track Missy (Also check amazing piece called Surrender).
Second Audience Choice
It became a tradition to give space also to guests, to pick a track which has a big personal meaning for them. At this point it was nice to see that practically all of the regular guests used that option and it was time for round 2. I gladly gave space to one of the most stable guests and a good friend now Vladimír Dvořák. He has amazing genre spectrum taste, including atmospheric progressive metal. This time he chose impressive Polish band Indukti.
For the bonus track, it was a hard pick this time. I always leave the bonus track for a special guest or if we might have lost some music icon that day. Next to it, it can be based on some anniversary or a big thing within our society. Alicia Keys is not someone, I would regularly listen to, but I have a massive respect for her talent, music taste and a great voice. I am also very disappointed her planned show in 2020 was cancelled. Not only because my best friend told me: “Man, if you will manage to get to interview with her and possibly take me there as a photographer, I would die for such a chance.” Her newest performance at NPR Music Tiny Desk came out only a few days after the Black Lives Matter movement started. I am not getting involved in the issues, where I am not informed enough. I believe there are plenty of others to listen to, within this issue. However, I believe in respect and love. Alicia talking about the importance of respect, love and tolerance at the beginning of the show, recorder before Black Lives Matter was all over the news, was very symbolic. Incredible smooth sound and soulful vibe. Not surprised she won the audience vote.