American primitivism in Eastern Europe? One of the earliest connection might be the Dobro guitar, known a brand that built acoustic guitars with a metal resonator to amplify the sounds.
The name originated in 1928 when the Dopyera brothers, John and Emil (Ed), formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company. Dobro is both a contraction of “Dopyera brothers” and a word meaning ‘good’ in their native Slovak. An early company motto was “Dobro means good in any language.” — Wikipedia
And then there is the guitar duo consisting of Jakub Šimanský and Tomáš Niesner who just released their debut LP “Tance neznámé” on the Czech Stonded to Death label.
For many who got sucked into the vortex of solo acoustic guitar music, the appearance of Daniel Bachman around 2011, was the entry into a musical world that lead to discover legends like Jack Rose, John Fahey and Robbie Basho. Bachman was a young guy who showed that it’s still possible to travel the world with an acoustic guitar if you have stories to tell and some mind-boggling picking skills that leaves everybody mouth open.
2012 was Bachmans first tour outside of the United States and he played in Prague and I might read too much into it or be completely wrong, but I bet this was the time when he inspired Jakub Šimanský.
Šimanský, originally the drummer of the noise rock band UNNA, picked up the guitar in a time of personal turmoil, when he was living in the practice room of his band.
After a debut album on cassette, Šimanský teamed up with his former band mate Tomáš Niesner and to record Tance neznámé (Unknown Dances).
This album is a phantastic document of two guitarists complementing each other, giving each other space to work out ideas and while being technical top notch, they put alot emotions into their compositions. Some of the melodies are touching something deep inside me, that is hard to explain, but I bet every music lover knows that feeling.
Ženy a heřmánek (lady and Chamomile) for example. This is my personal favorite because of the simple beauty of the melodies that grow out of the dialogue by both guitars. It’s also a piece which displays the influence of Czech romanticism, naturalism and maybe even surrealism the most.
Here and there you can hear Bachman’s signature thumb work on the bass string, or be reminded on the Jack Rose and Glenn Jones duets, but even if I make this connection to other players, these compositions are all completely unique and just beautifully executed that there is no real need to compare them to others.
I love the Czech Republic and their cultural treasures as much as I love America with all the weirdness that came out of immigrants that felt free to do whatever they wanted, like jamming a metal cone into a “lute” to be louder than anybody else. This album is for me the embodyment of this love.
Your favorite American primitive album this year comes out of the Czech Republic, like the original (and better) Budweiser beer!
Do not miss this album, even if you can’t read or pronounce the track titles. This is pure bliss!
And allow me a last reference, but this album sounds to me like part II of _Of Deathly Premonitions, the 2011 tour release with guitar duets by Ryley Walker and Daniel Bachman.