Rife with the Bohemian spirit, as defined by the region of the same name, the Czech Republic has long been a nation full of determination. Through the reign of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, communism and the idealogical civil war that split up Czechoslovakia in 1993, the republic has endured. Here are five artists keeping that tenacity alive.
Are you a big fan of The Phantom of the Opera’s juxtaposition between the monstrous title character and the alluring Christine? Or the series of duets between the murder-ballad maven Nick Cave and pixie-like women? Něžná Noc might be the Czech equivalent you seek. Blanka Šrůmová and Jan Sahara create lush vignettes with their special blend of dark imagery and dramatic instrumentation. Their name translates to “Gentle Night,” but their art will grip you by the throat and stare into your soul.
If Meghan Trainor brought booty back, 22-year-old Polish Czech star Ewa Farna is bringing hips back. Apologies to Shakira, but Farna’s acoustic revamp of Trainor’s “All About That Bass” with Czech lyrics about her wonderful waist is the body-positive song that swept the country in 2015. The singer has done multiple stints on TV talent shows as performer and judge, and has done guest vocals with rapper Majk Spirit, among others. (Thanks to Last.fm for the recommendation.)
Who was that masked man? It’s Kittchen, a self-described freak-folk industrial artist from the small town of Doksy. He insists on giving away his music for free on his website, but his three albums are more than worth a copper or two. Think Portishead crossbred with the National. But the product is 100 percent Czech and 100 percent haunting. (Thanks to the Czech thread at Reddit for the recommendation.)
A resident mixmaster at Prague hot spot Chapeau Rouge and coordinator of the Majestic Circus, Akrom is riding high in the world of house music. His biography describes his creations as “elegant,” and you can hear that delicacy in his Spinning releases. Sure, there are the typical beats to get your feet shuffling, but his use of Latin drums and tender chimes evoke imagery of dancing in the rain.
A little bit of shoegaze for your listening pleasure. This willowy outfit started as a ’60s cover band and grew to mirror Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky and Lush. Their self-titled epic was released in the States in May 2016 on Label Obscura (lead image above), and it’ll knock you over with its avalanche of serene vocals, shattering drums and mountainous guitars.
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