Tara Fuki — Winna
≡ The two cellists say they are both inspired by the poetry of the night and by the dreams, which they consider as extractions from the sub–conscious. "It is because what happens to us during the night is totally different and sometimes even truer than what we perceive in the day," says Andrea. Their new songs originated gradually on travels, during breaks between concerts, and were most intensely worked on during the heat of the summer of 2006. Tara Fuki along with a few guests incorporate their cellos with instruments such as Swiss hangs, Indian tabla, and Pakistani kanjira. It's no wonder that Tara Fuki have been riding to the top of the Czech alternative scene.
Location: France, Prague, Czech Republic
A.K. born: 29 November 1972
Piosenki do snu
Review by François Couture; Score: ****
Dorota Blahutova–Barova Violoncello, Composer, Vocals
Andrea Konstankiewicz–Nazir violoncello, vocals, hang, Composer
≡ Beautiful, simply beautiful. Piosenki Do Snu is the first album by Tara Fuki, a cello duet formed by Boo and Rale member Andrea Konstankiewicz and Lippany member Dorota Blahutová. These ten songs are acoustic only, two cellos and two very sensual female voices. The music is therefore very intimate and suggestive (it must be because of the unique physical relation one establishes with a cello). The lyrics, sung in Polish — even though both musicians live in the Czech Republic — explore the world of dreams and semi–reality. Each song is a little gem, intelligently crafted into a style that has a lot to do with compatriot Iva Bittová and Quebec cellist Jorane, but remains very personal. "Spalilo Sie," "Pada," and the opener "Czekam" constitute highlights, but not a second is lost on this album. At 43 minutes, it lasts just long enough, providing a perfect journey without having to dilute any of the material. The ten–minute closer "Kolysanka" begins with a long, wordless vocal improvisation with textural arco playing, establishing an enrapturing mood before one of the best melodies of this set comes in. In the sparse arrangements and languorous atmospheres, one finds the distinctive touch of Rale leader and Bittová accomplice Vladimir Václavek. If you ever came in contact and appreciated any of the artists mentioned above, you owe it to yourself to listen to this CD. It's that good.
Artist Biography by Alex Henderson
≡ Tara Fuki is not the name of a solo artist. Rather, Tara Fuki is a female duo that consists of two singer/cellists: Andrea Konstankiewicz (born 1972) and Dorota Blahutová (born 1975). Based in the post–communist Czech Republic, Tara Fuki specializes in a very haunting, moody, and soulful — if slightly abstract — style of modern, East European folk-pop. Neither Konstankiewicz nor Blahutová sing in Czech on Tara Fuki's debut album, Piosenki Do Snu, they opt to sing in Polish. Blahutová, in fact, has commented that she would rather sing in Polish than Czech because Polish has softer vowels and consonants. And even though none of Tara Fuki's lyrics are in English, there are hints of Joni Mitchell in some of the duo's vocals. Tara Fuki brings a variety of influences to the table — not only Mitchell, but also jazz and European classical, as well as traditional East European folk. Favoring a sparse, minimalist approach, the acoustic Piosenki Do Snu does not use drums, guitar, bass, or piano but only two voices and two cellos, and the result is a very interesting and unorthodox sound. Konstankiewicz and Blahutová met in Northern Moravia in early 2000 when both were studying music at the Ostrava Conservatory. At the time, Konstankiewicz had been singing in a band called BOO as well as a music/dance outfit called Rale. Blahutová, meanwhile, had been a member of the Brno, Czech Republic–based band Lippany. When the women came together as a duo, they felt that they culturally had a lot of common ground. Both of them have some Polish heritage; Blahutová's mother is Polish and one of Konstankiewicz's ancestors was a countess in pre–20th century Poland before Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe was taken over by oppressive communist regimes. When Tara Fuki's two members were born in the '70s, the area that is now called the Czech Republic still had a Soviet–style communist government. But when Konstankiewicz and Blahutová were teenagers, they witnessed the fall of communism throughout Eastern Europe; — and by the time Tara Fuki was formed in 2000, communism was long gone in the Czech Republic. Communism's downfall had a major impact on the Polish and Czech music scenes; instead of recording for government–operated labels, artists like Tara Fuki now find themselves recording for labels that are very much in the private sector. In 2001, Tara Fuki signed with Indies Records, a small independent label based in Brno, and recorded its debut album, Piosenki Do Snu.
≡ 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/
& with description on http://wsm.serpent.pl/...
Homepage : http://www.tarafuki.eu
& with audio : http://www.myspace.com/tarafuki
Label info : http://indies.eu/en/alba/686/sens/
Dutch reviews : http://www.folkroddels.be/artikels/47570.html
Other reviews : http://www.folkworld.de/44/e/cds2.html#tara
The press from the label:
The cello duo Tara Fuki recorded its new CD in an untraditional environment of a renaissance chateau in Nesovice u Vyškova. The album called DROP features 10 new songs both with Czech and French lyrics. The beautiful acoustic space and atmosphere of the renaissance chateau contributed to the origin of an exceptional album. Recording out of studio gave the authors a great freedom and a possibility to immerse deeper into the music itself, which one can powerfully feel from the recording. The album comes out two years after the issue of a very successful debut “Songs into the Dream” (“Piosenky do snu”) for which the Academy of Popular Music awarded two Angels to the authors and which was a revelation for the listeners amidst the gray music production. The protagonists invited Mario Buzzi, an experienced Brno musician from the band Chorchestr. He used a sampler to enrich the sound of two violoncellos with sounds and moods. Both interprets worked very intensely for two years, traveled, played many concerts (also abroad), therefore this album is naturally more mature and adult. This CD also contains an artistic video clip by Matej Liška to the Czech song “In the fume” (“V dýmu”). The album DROP (“KAPKA”) is issued again in a beautiful paper digipack with impressive photos of Andrea and Dorka.