Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Divadlo Archa
November 15

Dream weavers Barová, left, and Konstankiewicz.

The never-ending quest for interesting alternative music led to Archa last night, where Tara Fuki was playing their first Prague concert in a long time and debuting a new disc. It was louder than usual, with Czech folk/pop star Lenka Dusilová and three members of the Vertigo Quintet adding volume and backing. But the core of the music was, as always, mesmerizing.

Part of the appeal of Tara Fuki is the clarity and elegance of the duo’s sound. Dorota Barová and Andrea Konstankiewicz are both talented cello players and singers who forged something new in 2000, when they began shaping improvisations into an original fusion of contemporary and traditional music, often incorporating text from the Polish poet Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński. Their sensitive playing and haunting melodies tap into something deeper, the subconscious world of dreams and the female psyche.

Their new release, Sens, is more musical than mystical, especially the selections they played at Archa. Barová was in good vocal form on the improvisations “Tobě” and “Moment,” the latter featuring delicate accompaniment by Konstankiewicz on the hang – technically a type of idiophone, but in sound and practice more like a laptop steel drum. The extensive use of pizzicato is a Tara Fuki trademark, and it sounded sharp on “Słowa.” Energetic bowing provided a driving bottom for “Kolorowe Szkiełka,” and the title track, with its singalong chorus, made for a rousing encore.

Dusilová’s sharp upper register works very well for her music, but seemed a bit jarring when she joined Barová and Konstankiewicz halfway through their set. The same could be said for the Vertigo Quintet trio – acoustic bass player Rastislav Uhrík, saxophonist Marcel Bárta and drummer Daniel Šoltis – who turn out some fine jazz. Šoltis is particularly fun to watch, wielding a different percussion instrument every few seconds. But the impact of another singer and three additional instruments seemed to weigh the music down rather than brighten it. The group vibe onstage for the CD christening was exactly right, but at least for this reviewer, it would have been a more satisfying evening musically to hear just Tara Fuki.

That opportunity has been rare lately because Konstankiewicz is now married and living in France, so Tara Fuki is more of a project than an ongoing band. It sounded like it last night. The vocals were entrancing and the musicianship superb, but that extra dimension was missing. Barová and Konstankiewicz capture it very well in the studio; their discs are like journeys to another place, a meditative blend of polyphonic harmonies, yearning musical lines and just the right touch of complementary colors and sound effects. When they create that atmosphere onstage, it’s magical.

So here’s hoping they spend a lot more time together, and come back soon. Until then, the new disc will do nicely. Aside from a few raw spots in Barová’s vocals, it weaves Tara Fuki’s unique spell with grace and precision, enriching an already enchanting dreamscape.

Further reading and listening:

Tara Fuki’s website, with a link to their myspace page, is at: http://www.tarafuki.eu/

Tara Fuki is on the Indies Scope label, home of some of the best alternative music in the Czech Republic. Check out the latest releases at: http://www.indies.eu/

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