Martin Kyšperský and Aleš Pilgr recently celebrated twenty years of cooperation in the Květy (Flowers) group. While the bandmates and instruments around them have changed over the two decades, the two have remained a constant force in one of Brno's most essential bands of the century. This constant force, however, has been a dynamic one, as the two protagonists alternate between different instruments and approaches. Martin switches from the guitar to other instruments, and Aleš has gone from being a drummer to a double bassist and will be a drummer again from 2023. This context is then also important for understanding the new album Duo, which Kyšperský and Pilgr recorded as, well, a duo.
Aleš Pilgr describes the process of creating the album by saying: “We found two empty weeks in our calendars and met up continuously. We played and recorded without preparation. Basically, each of us grabbed the instrument we felt like playing at the moment and played whatever came to mind. That's exactly how we made songs when we first started playing together twenty years ago.” Martin Kyšperský adds: “I then sat over it and looked for hidden forms in the songs. We figured that this is the freest possible way to create together while still trying to reach the highest standard that we're capable of: making simple songs where we discover new musical and lyrical techniques for ourselves.” This may well be a way that's different from Květy as a whole, but at the same time we find, or at least sense, practices that are also a natural part of Květy and to the entirety of Martin Kyšperský's work. Put otherwise – the Duo album seems to mirror the whole twenty years of Květy with its various twists, turns, and dead ends.
The music of Květy is evolving; this is not only due to the change of players, the emphasis on different instruments, or – perhaps above all – the maturation process of the musicians themselves. In many ways, the Duo album hearkens back to the early recordings of Květy, when the sound was based on many different instruments/non-instruments, and the absurdity in the lyrics often prevailed over the story itself. Especially sonically, Duo seems to be returning to the 2006 album Kocourek a horečka (Cat and Fever), of course going farther than Květy has recorded since then. Moreover, Aleš Pilgr was able to return to the playfulness of his already finished project Biorchestr.
This time, the individual turns and images of from Martin Kyšperský's texts stand out more than whole stories. While the album also deals with major personal stories and issues (Basketbal), characters like the (translated) Archetypal Hunter or Demons of the Apartment House would be more likely to be friends with the Forest Ghost or the Parrot of the Night from the ten-year-old album White Bees than with the Indian and the Magician from Comedian till 7:30 pm (2017). It is true, of course, that as a writer of unexpected turns of phrase, Kyšperský is at the edge of genius. See, for example, the song Cucumbers, about how “you can't smell no smell” and that cucumbers/coffee/socks aren't what they used to be (is this related to the loss of the sense of smell after covid? one may ask…). Or the one about “Bryan Ferry calling Brian Eno” (Aquarium). On the other hand, there is a distracting grammatical phenomenon (Czech, of course) that appears more than once, namely the placement of the adjective after the noun (e.g. “manželé mladí” or “married couple young”), which unfortunately hinders the flow of the story and makes it seem skeletal.
Although the album Duo is not part of the official discography of Květy, it is based on the band's songs and has influenced them significantly in retrospect. One of the guests on the album is Jiří Habarta from the band Ghost of You (and others), who played concerts with Kyšperský and Pilgr in a trio to promote Duo and became a member of Květy at the beginning of 2023. It is true that Martin Kyšperský in particular finds the Květy project small and inadequate to express all his ideas (see also the recent album of the 29/2 project), but in reality there is no sharp line between Květy and “the other”.
Kyšperský & Pilgr – Duo, released by Polí5, 2022, 15 tracks, total length: 57:26, cassette version is two tracks longer than the CD