The group D.N.A. Brno, winners of the final of Porta in 2011, after a gap of four years have brought out a new album. Alongside a new surname for the bass guitarist (but it is still the same Barbora who years ago cofounded the then children’s and girls’ group) there was an important change in the line-up. Ondra Bojanovský (son of Aleš Bojanovský of FT Prima) has become a new member, playing rhythmic instruments. This has made it possible for the former percussionist Lenka Ručková to move over to the piano. Otherwise they remain as they were: D.N.A. is a group of young people, mostly classically trained, who like folk as well as classical. On the musical side they play it masterfully – there can be no objections to their skill, which is made evident in individual songs. The actual repertoire already on the last album has grown up from the childhood years and the innovation is of course, in this respect, a bit more mature. The band has not surprised us with any a sudden shift. But the result is a bit more mature and confident. And what has also been added are serious but at the same time credible themes.
When, in connection with the previous album, I predicted that the group would perhaps look into Celtic music, I got it wrong. Although on the new album we find one song that in form and content is based on folk ballads (Na řece), the rest is more straightforward folk, without the direct influence of world music. It is rather as if D.N.A. was more inclined to the acoustic mainstream, of course with a strengthened quality of interpretation (e.g. the “ordinary folk” song Já vím). But the folk mainstream is also moving, so it is quite natural that in the opening song Učíme se, the credible testimony of a generation, its author Vítek Dvořáček goes from singing to rap. This of course is connected with rhythm playing a more significant role and not only in this song. Yes, the wonderful violin of Patricie Theimerová and the equally excellent flute of Tereza Šperková still adorn the individual songs, Vitek plays guitar very skilfully, but with attentive listening, I became more and more inclined to think that the most important instrument in many songs was the bass. After all the initial Učíme se and Bez dechu would, without significant bass lines, have sounded half-hearted.
Part of the “moderate progress” made by D.N.A. - and in this case mainly down to practically the sole author Vítek Dvořáček – is in the art of writing a hit song. From the last album I recall, for example, Lachtany; agile, distinctive, yet in content a rather unassuming song. This time they have often managed to combine truly distinctive and easily remembered melodies with thought-provoking lyrics. Falling into this category are Bludný Holanďan, the thematically slightly related Hvědopravec, the slightly mysterious, but definitely not to be missed Zahrada with lyrics by Kristýna Jarolínová, and finally the closing title song Iluze (Illusion). This I perceive as a response to themselves, a song that responds to the initial Učíme se (We are Learning): Although “we seek our own voice”, “we are only just learning to write” and “seek our own goal,” we do not want to lose our illusions. And also, which is important, “it is beautiful to give to people, but first you have to have money for strings and for room and board”. A song about illusions that most from out of the songs on the album pays tribute to the history of acoustic folk, and is thus a pragmatic conclusion to an album full of accomplished poetic images.
Even in seeming detail, that is how the album is thought through from beginning to end, there is hidden a small but distinct shift that I can see in the band. In fact, while I praised the last CD Na úsvitu (especially its instrumental component), I still felt that behind it was the excellent children’s group that I rooted for as a juror in the Brána competition Gate, this time all doubts have been eliminated. D.N.A. still play acoustic folk and have not gone in a more alternative direction, but they have become an adult and self-confident band. I therefore look forward to the next, to see what progress in the pursuit of their objectives of these two men and four young women make.
D.N.A. Brno – Iluze. Issued at their own expense, 2018. 13 tracks, total length: 46:21