Music hits us from so many directions these days and I’m grateful for all of them. I rarely miss a Gilles Peterson show on the excellent BBC Six Music (and nor should you!), Soundcloud is kind enough to inform me every time some of my favourite artists and djs upload anything new and Rob Booth’s fantastic Electronic Explorations has taught me a huge amount about electronic music. Add to this, recommendations from friends, soundtracks to films and TV shows and even radio playlists generated on Last FM. To be honest, I could go on and on. However, every now and again all structure and method goes to pieces and you discover a gem by complete accident (such as this after walking into a funk dj’s set at Mighty Sounds Festival last year and practically rugby-tackling him to get the name of the tune). Well, following a random google search earlier today I was lucky enough to find myself ushered into the delightful website of a band from Brno who go by the name of DVA. Happily, their music is every bit as delightful as their online hq.
DVA are sibling duo Bára Kratochvílová and Jan Kratochvíl (to any non-Czech readers who might not understand why the surnames of brothers and sisters are different, just be happy you don’t have to actually learn the language). They describe themselves as making “electro-acoustic Pop of non-existent radios” and have released three albums since forming in 2006. They regularly play live around the Czech Republic as well as abroad and they also create music for films and documentaries. Their music is characterised by fragile melodies interwoven into all manner of interesting sounds and textures. Bara’s vocals take centre stage, cutting across the revolving cast of instruments and sounds with clarity and power. Listening to DVA is a bit like finding yourself on the set of one of the Godfather films, only that Don Corleone has given up crime to open a kitten shelter, and he’s extremely happy about his decision.
It’s always difficult to select your favourite tracks when you’re impressed by all of what you’ve heard and not had time to allow certain elements to grow on you. I’ve been mostly listening to music from DVA’s third album ‘Hu’ and, after some deliberating, these three are probably the songs that I like the most:
I love how the vocals come in after a hesitant opening with sounds competing for space in the background. The guitar is simple and repetitive, providing a backbone around which the other elements can flourish. Momentum builds towards the end of the song, with backing vocals and other elements joining in and an almost chant-like repetition of the main vocal line before calm is restored as the song ends.
This is darker than Fattal. I love the prominence of the bass from the outset and the accompaniment of whistling gives a sense of outdoors. As with all of DVA’s music, a feature that I really like is the constant sense of movement. An accordion sidles into view, has a word with the guitar and they both exit stage left to be replaced by an enigmatic string section. Of course, all of this is happening in black and white.
Urgent and bassy, the percussion drives this song and the vocal is emotional and determined. I love how the melody twists and turns with unpredictable notes creating a slightly uncomfortable mood at times. This is a song that I could imagine being particularly impressive live.
I feel as though I have only scratched the surface with DVA. I’m looking forward to wading through the rest of their work and listening to any music they release in the future. They’re also certainly a band to look out for if they’re playing live anywhere near you, I’ve a feeling it must be quite an experience. Go to their website and Soundcloud page to find out more. To buy any of DVA’s music, head over to their Bandcamp page.