field reports from the old world – returning to the ancient heart of bohemia

how unusually mild winter weather it was for my latest excursion back to the wonders of the czech republic. i arose in the very early morning and made my way via straßenbahn from connewitz to the hauptbahnhof here in leipzig under gloomy grey skies threatening a few drops of rain, but the ground remained unfrozen, and the winter wind only blowing cool. i followed the trainlines a short ways northwest til the skyline of dresden loomed on the horizon, the schloss, the frauenkirche; all bathed in the muted winter half-light. til, finally the trainlines bore us in a southerly direction and into the heart of bohemia, it’s majestic captial; the city of praha.
it was early afternoon when i stepped wearily out onto the platform and made my way down to the main concourse of praha hlavní nádraží; its sights now becoming wonderfully familiar to me. i set about fixing myself some czech koruna, a fresh bottle of water and my ticket to plzeň, before stepping outside to take in the mild wintry city air from one of the benches sitting on the small strip of parkland bordering washingtonova. how weary i felt from the long journey out of sachsen, but how glad i was to find myself once again in this beautifully romantic land, filled with such treasures and wonders; always just waiting to be uncovered.

i boarded the plzeň service in the late afternoon and watched the bohemian landscapes stretch out before me as i headed west along the line, even catching glimpses of two sets of deer couples frolicking in the fallow fields together, until the sun quickly began to set and dusk began to bathe the landscapes in a swift and steadily descending darkness. but how perfectly warm and cosy the carriage was and how friendly my fellow compartment passengers were. we followed the line all the way to plzeň and disembarked at the beautifully-crafted hlavní nádraží, its architecture hinting at the marvels of this ancient city; only serving to remind me how glad i was to return.
the mighty jan sinko from the místní borci crew was poised to collect me from the station and how it was only a short walk to the location, a walk which took us passed the now demolished old theatre, an empty lot waiting to be turned into luxury apartments or a shopping mall most-likely; a tragic blow to the city center. still, how we pressed onwards and arrived at the very cool pohoda music club, slung low deep within the basements of a bigger complex of perhaps three or four bars and clubs. but, embedded deep within the confines of this safehouse the rest of the world seemed like a million miles away.

the earl grey was soon brewing, stage preparations being made, two dogs were running wildly throughout the bar and all was very much in order. after some short while things were made even more comfortable with the arrival of the wonderful at bona fide family, their benelux counterparts at the later-to-be-staggering odeur de violettes. with the whole gang assembled and the guests arriving in droves it was clearly almost time for the evenings entertainment to begin; once a little backstage sustenance had been devoured, naturally.
benelux took to the stage first and quickly revealed a well-crafted line of what could possibly be described as ‘surf-gaze’; a fine blend of elements that had me think of east bay rays‘ guitar lines for early dead kennedys, of velvet underground inspired noise-action, all being held together by a warm field of indie and shoegaze vibes which all melded to create a splendid whole. i had previously been told of their work, but how it was certainly a delight to hear it for the first time being issued at a megalithic volume within the confines of this small underground cavern.

to the best of my understanding odeur de violettes is one girl, that goes by the name of laví, who performs a very stunning line in super-heartfelt acoustic singer-songwriter material, and is very much in control of what she is doing. her first order of business was to refuse playing on the main stage through the sound system and rather performing acoustic in the relative quite of the fussball antechamber. at first just a few of us huddled together to hear her curious magic, but by the end of the set almost the whole club was squeezed into this tight room and marveling at her stunning pieces. truly magical indeed, and well worth investigating.
before too long, at bona fide were ready to take to the stage, and how it was an event i had been anticipating for some long while. zuzka, their bass-player, was my first connexion in ostrava on my first tour to the czech republic and how i have come to be very good friends with the ostrava family, but had long had to wait til there was a chance to get to see them perform their own fantastic music, and how it truly was a delight indeed. just massive, massive waves of full-noise-field-shoegaze; truly epic in every possible way, and managing to drown us in velvet’s noise work-outs as well us bathe us in shimmering dream-pop waves en route; thoroughly excellent work indeed. still, how even-luckier i was to be able to join them onstage for one song before beginning my own performance; magical times indeed.

how i must also take a moment to say how much of a pleasure it was to perform, to audition some of the songs from my new album for the first time, and to have such a warm audience listening keen in attendance. still, with the live music concluded it was time to start the serious process of drinking long into the early hours. luckily, for my part, the earl grey kept flowing and how i was treated to a host of wonderful conversations, not least of all with the enchanting miss katie elznicova; the singer, guitarist and songwriter behind the very amazing manon meurt, an upcoming plzeň dream-pop / shoegaze band who have already had the pleasure of supporting my bloody valentine for their recent praha show. our introduction came by way of the very wonderful miss vendula skalková and how the rest of the evening was spent discussing music, the arts, life and all therein; a thoroughly fascinating conversation within the chaos of the ever-maddening bar.
still, how ‘the end‘ came very literally in the form of the doors being played on the sound system. we all ferried our was out into the very early morning hours, yet how the city still seemed to be a blur of activity; late night bars with folk still spilling in and out of them, the buses and trams clattering and droning along the main-streets. slowly our number began to splinter as we began to bid each other farewell for the evening, some with plans for sleeping, some with plans for more drinking. for my own part i wandered to the quiet of our sleeping location with zuzka, to join the others that had retired previously and to get some precious sleep before the excitement of the new day dawned.

i awoke around midday, wrapped in my sleeping bag, on the floor of a kitchen in a second or third floor apartment. most of the gang were nowhere to be seen, but zuzka and a couple of other late-risers were still on the scene, and how, after a quick tea, we gathered ourselves up to head out into the afternoon, to re-commune with the others and find ourselves a little something to eat. the day was relatively mild still as we walked down towards the old square, connected with half of the rest of our team at the foot of the towering katedrála sv. bartoloměje before walking on to a nice cosy pub to meet the rest of our number and take some much needed lunch, and start to think about making our way by car to the next location.
how it had been a really wonderful, crazy, chaotic night indeed, and how i must take a moment to send so much thanks to everyone involved and everyone who made it down. so much love to the mighty jan, petr and the místní borci crew for arranging such a magical event, the whole pohoda crew for making us feel so welcome in their magical venue; standa, ráďa, and all those names i didn’t get to learn, vojta for handling the sound so well, the awesome benelux, odeur de violettes and at bona fide for the wonderful music, matěj hošek for his awesome photography, and extra-special thanks to vendula and katie for the wonderful conversations. sending all the love, and here’s to next time indeed.
next field report : under a wintry full moon

ستة ستة سبعة | hand-crafted cd edition | out now

so, as hinted at previously, i have set about hand-crafting a cd edition of my recent ‘six six seven‘ release for touring purposes, and shall be making the discs available on the merch table at my upcoming shows; initially booked within the czech republic and the ruhrgebiet, but soon to be taking me yet further afield.
initially another limited edition of forty-four copies, but with ten of those available to order from my bandcamp page, offering those who won’t be able to make it to any of the shows and are without one of the cassette editions a chance to get involved. so, be sure to find yourself at one of the shows or think about placing yourself an order right now.

ستة ستة سبعة | hand-crafted cd edition | coming monday

due to the unexpected popularity of my recent ‘six six seven‘ tape release via the mighty mism records, and due to the fact that i am about to begin embarking on touring in support of the release without any copies for the merch table, i have taken it upon myself to prepare a limited edition, hand-crafted cd version of the album.
currently existing in an edition of forty-four more copies, carefully constructed from highest-quality slate-grey card, featuring a unique array of images on the discs themselves and containing a few extra little treats, they are rather smart. in addition to making them available on tour, i will also make a small number available to order online, for those who shalln’t be able to attend a performance.
please expect them to be available from
this monday via my bandcamp page

accolades 2013

slowly, as we step into this new series of twelve moons, i feel that my first order of business ought well be taking a moment to celebrate and cherish the appearance of my still recently released ‘six six seven‘ album on a goodly number of ‘end of year’ lists. how it means so very much to me to even be able to share my music at all, but for it to receive such wonderful and considered praise is a real honour.
so, here is a list of the accolades that were
bestowed as 2013 drew to a close:
best albums of 2013 – brzowski
best releases of 2013 – bill van cutten
top ten overall hip hop albums of 2013 – indie rock mag
i would very much like to take a moment to thank all those responsible for my appearance on these lists, and would very much like to extend that thanks to everyone who has supported this release, simply by helping spread the word, offering praise and encouragement or to have secured themselves a copy, whether it be a simple download or a copy of the hand-crafted tape itself. i am so very grateful for your support, enthusiasm and continued encouragement.
so, here’s to the days, weeks and months to come;
and how much is on the horizon…
wishing you all a very happy new year,
and sending all the love