Kutna Hora – Will or Nothing

“Different cultures, different lives / the same evoking story of the past / just another name, just another land”. That this is true proves Kutna Hora, a band that comes from Argentina, but whose music sounds very universal. The piece of lyric comes from ‘Hell is a place on earth’, one of their best songs. This album was earlier released in their home country, but now presented to a larger public by the German Ars Musica Diffundere. Kutna Hora, named after the famous gothic church in Bohemia (notorious for its ‘skull art’, which you see reflected on the cover of the album), was formed in 2001 and uses acoustic guitars, percussion, keyboards and male vocals. On this album some guest musicians add strings and flute.

Situated somewhere between neofolk and darkwave, Kutna Hora makes melancholic music with pleasant melodies and stripped to its essentials. A clear reference is In My Rosary, which I would also have noted if the band hadn’t included a moody cover of ‘Why we cried’, with a lovely violin. ‘Love’ is a nice minimal romantic song, with warm vocals by Fernado Dieguez, a fine singer. The songs are performed tasteful, without unnessecary drama. I also have to think of the folky work of Engelsstaub at times. Another well-known song on the album is ‘Michael’, the traditional folksong previously recorded by Fire & Ice amongst others, here called ‘Crazy man Michael’. Texts by European writers are used on ‘Oratorium’ (Nietschze) and ‘A song from the highest tower’ (Rimbaud). ‘This is disease’ is a great desperate track, in which the vocals and instruments seem to fight each other.

You won’t hear something really new or surprising on this album, but Kutna Hora proves to be capable of making fine emotional songs, with enough variety. “Will or Nothing” is certainly a pleasant album to listen to, and the fact that is was created in Argentina gives it perhaps some extra flavour. Recommended if you like tranquil folky guitar songs with a lot of feeling.

artist: Kutna Hora
label: Ars Musica Diffundere
details: 13 tracks. AMD007 (2003)