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Dálava: Dálava

In eastern Czech Republic there lies a Moravian village on the western side of the Carpathian Mountains. Over one hundred years ago biologist/ethnomusicologist Dr. Vladimir Ulehla methodically transcribed a bundle of folk songs. I suppose he just really liked the music. Fast forward to present day and the reimagining of these songs by his great granddaughter and New Yorker Julia Ulehla. Her vocals are supported by Aram Bajakian (guitars, glockenspiel), Tom Swafford (violin), Skye Steele (violin) and Shanir Blumenkranz (acoustic bass, gimbri).

First and foremost this is an Eastern European folk album so if you are expecting rock music you will be disappointed although the use of electric guitar on the sparsely arranged "A ty moja najmilejši" comes close. The songs drift through odd metered rhythms and unusual instrumentation with Ulehla's sometimes fractured lead vocals sung in Slovakian leading the way. The first track "Ach, bože můj" has a melancholic feel with the violins gradually becoming more pronounced while "Ej, lásko, lásko" features unusual tapestries of violin and gently plucked gimbri (a lute-like instrument native to Morocco). In the ethereal "Aj, Jurenko" the darker violin tones ease out of the soundscape in waves while heavy guitar pyrotechnics open the eclectic "Hory hučá" where icy shards of guitar punctuate the soundscape of gently plucked lute and serene lead vocals. This is the closest the album comes to anything resembling rock music. At times, Ulehla's voice subtly reminds me of Bjork.

I have to admit Dálava has delivered something totally outside my comfort zone. If you have a craving for unusual and sometimes chaotic instrumentation delivered under the umbrella of East European folk music by all means give this one a shot. The music is well played and the talent is obviously there but I'm not sure how much this disc will enter my CD player. Released on Sanasar Records.

Track Listing:
1. Ach, bože můj
2. Ej, lásko, lásko
3. A ty moja najmilejši
4. Aj, Jurenko
5. Mamicky
6. Nech je pán lebo král
7. Hory hučá
8. Litala
9. Milá má
10. Vyšla děvčina
11. Hájicku zelený

Added: November 21st 2014
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1762
Language: english

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