THE BLOG
09/29/2014 12:23 pm ET Updated Nov 29, 2014

Czech's Mix Part 2: Singing in Tongues (Video)

In my last vlog, I spotlighted the folk performers at the Crossroads Festival (Part of the Colours of Ostrava Festival) in Czech Republic. This time around, I'm covering two very different bands that I had previously known about through their striking videos.

I first became acquainted with the husband and wife team called DVA (two) when I saw their video "France Trance." "Quirky" did not adequately describe this humorous little gem, in which a balloon sings in faux French before "getting popped." In their next video (by this time I was on the alert for them) "Nunovo Tango" the animator created a montage of horror movie images with a Tim Burton sensibility. This time the song was sung in faux-Hungarian.

DVA at Crossroads Festival. Ostrava, Czech Republic from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

DVA is Bára Kratochvílová on vocals, clarinet and bass clarinet, saxophone, wind "midi controller," toy piano and anything else that can make a fun sound. Her husband Jan Kratochvíl plays guitar, while providing the looping and vocals. It's amazing how much music these two can make. The tunes are full of catchy lines and attractive beats, and sound eerily like European pop, or rock or disco -- and yet not. Kratochvilová has an unerring ear for the sounds of other languages and so even when you know it is nonsense, it sounds like Russian, or French or even English. While watching them perform in Ostrava I just had to smile, and think to myself....whose idea WAS this??? The song they are singing here is called "Mulatu" from their CD Nipomo. I think these two are doing some of the freshest stuff sound-wise, and you can't fault the creativity at work here. It's worth checking out their recordings, they are fairly prolific and the music is adventurous and unpredictable. I guess you could call what they do "art music," but most importantly DVA is FUN. And you can dance to it.

Czech"s Mix Part 2, Singing in Tongues: Cankisou live at Crossroads Festival. Ostrava, Czech Republic from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

Cankisou (pronounced Chunkyshow), is a mighty tight big band that is nothin' but a party. While they claim to be singing songs of the all-but-forgotten language of the legendary monopod race, the Canki people, this seems more like scat singing. Either that, or the Canki did not have much of a vocabulary. Or a grammar. But when the band is playing full tilt, and the large lead singer is bellowing out the tune, who cares? It's a total hodge-podge of good vibes, tiny saxophones, didgeridoos, random percussion -- and impossible to take seriously. In one of the band's videos, one of their live concerts actually turns into a bacchanal, with writhing damsels disrobing joyfully. While no such behaviour resulted from the set I videotaped, some folks were most definitely dancing with great abandon, and losing themselves in the energy the band was putting out.
The song is entitled "Zuha."
For more about Cankisou, visit: www.cankisou.cz

For more of Michal's International music videos, visit: http://inter-muse.com