Friday, October 15, 2004

Lenka Dusilova, Alvik / Knitting Factory Tap Bar / Oct. 12, 2004

Reviewed by Daphne Carr

Lenka Dusilova looks like a Czech Karen O, sings like a Euro-folk Cat Power (but with range and follow thru) and writes songs that range from weird faceless Sheryl Crow outtakes to riveting Mazzy Star style space ballads. Having just come off of playing with her full band, Secretion (yes, former Soviet Bloc bands still do have to raise the bar on their English naming principles), she and Martin Ledvina played an acoustic set that seemed a direct departure from the processed Universal Music Group sound she’s cultivated on her last few albums. Her set started with a swelling power chord drone over which she sung nonsense words, “blah blah blah,” then launching into a few tracks in English to which the audience, mostly Czech ex-pats, shouted “hezky C(h)esky,” “nice Czech”, or rather, “please sing in Czech”. She responded with a half dozen ballads made dreamy by her hand-strummed guitar and Ladvina’s sort of trad but tasteful runs of counterpoint – all warm and fuzzy acoustic, something I might really have hated if not for the power of Dusilova’s husky-gone-divine voice, indeed, twisting the ‘minor language’ that I’m so desperately trying to learn into a taffy over only two unprocessed guitars. Brilliant.

Alvik’s website might make you more frightened than even my description of them – flutist, five string bass/sample man, click-track drummer and totally charismatic female Czech/American lead singer. Guessed it? A trip-hop live band on a mission to funktify yr dread Czech day. I was, like, into it a little bit because Anya really goes for it, leads the band and pulls so much out of what ended up being a pretty limited vocal range, but then I realized that they sounded like LambCotton Wool! – and I got freaked out about how missteps of popular culture sometimes swirl into dark eddies where they breed disease unchecked. Jungle revival! No wave endgames! Legions of fake funk – wake up and see the new zeitgeist. Progress is real! Anyway, they were still doing that ‘wibby wobble funk head dribble and flailing hand gestures mean for real’ thing when we left. I’d like to think that there is always a room somewhere that needs to chill out, and Alvik is artist in residence.