Iva Bittová Cikora
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Iva Bittová|
Indies Records (www.indiesrec.cz)

cd cover If Czech singer/violinist Bittová played it straight, she'd have a remarkable enough voice. It's a multi-octave instrument with a wide expressive range. Instead, she runs it through the paces with ululations, growls, hisses, meows, and other giddy little touches. While all these gimmicks can get wearying at times, you have to admire her spirit of experimentation. When she's not getting all woo-woo with it, her voice brings to mind that of Paris Combo's Belle du Berry. She and her musicians (Vladimír Václavek on acoustic guitar, František Kucera on trumpet, Jaromír Honzák on bass, and Miloš Dvorácek on percussion) inhabit each of the tracks here, turning each one into a little sonic journey. Touches of color such as steel drums, typewriter, and kazoo sound as though they have grown organically in the arrangements, rather than being a "let's try this" afterthought. The dark, moody "Krídla" rolls along over a rippling steel drum underpinning. Kucera contributes some Miles Davis-inspired trumpet licks on the jazzy "Prání." "První" has a vaguely Latin groove, with its polyrhythms between the bass and drums. The brief closing track, "Kazu," could be subtitled "Fun with Musical Toys," with its kazoo and slide whistle jam. The minimalist liner notes provide track listings and credits and not much more, so non-Czech speakers are left scratching their heads as to the meaning of all this inspired craziness. Swinging between self-reflexive artiness and clowning impishness, Bittová gracefully balances on the tightrope between the intimate and the outré. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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