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Czech drummer rocks the museum

THE NAME of the project by Czech drummer Pavel Fajt, DrumTrek, might suggest either a trip through the world of drumming, or a spaceship fuelled by the hypnotic sound of drums – or maybe both. Visitors to Fajt’s concert on February 17 in the Múzeum obchodu (Museum of Trade) in Bratislava, might also have felt like they were onboard a big, narrow, strange spaceship on its way to the stars, especially thanks to his slightly psychedelic music and also thanks to the background projection (by Vít Kraus) that at times resembled the psychedelic Beatles’ Yellow Submarine or Terry Gilliam’s cartoon clips.

Pavel Fajt(Source: Jana Liptáková)

THE NAME of the project by Czech drummer Pavel Fajt, DrumTrek, might suggest either a trip through the world of drumming, or a spaceship fuelled by the hypnotic sound of drums – or maybe both. Visitors to Fajt’s concert on February 17 in the Múzeum obchodu (Museum of Trade) in Bratislava, might also have felt like they were onboard a big, narrow, strange spaceship on its way to the stars, especially thanks to his slightly psychedelic music and also thanks to the background projection (by Vít Kraus) that at times resembled the psychedelic Beatles’ Yellow Submarine or Terry Gilliam’s cartoon clips.

This was the third visit by Fajt to the Museum of Trade within the “Rock in the Museum” project. The 54-yearold Czech musician, composer and producer has played folk, ethno, world and jazz music (the latter in Dunaj, a duo also featuring Iva Bittová). Later, with the band Pluto, his style moved back towards rock. He also collaborated with various musicians before embarking on the solo project DrumTrek. He also actively participates each year in the Czech drummers’ and percussionists’ event Slet bubeníkú (Gathering of Drummers) and composes scene music for the Brno-based theatre Husa na provázku.

Fajt mostly plays drums but also includes other percussion instruments, including ghungroos, small brass bells that form an integral part of the Indian dance tradition that are worn around the ankles. In his Bratislava concert, he even included the famous – both in the Czech Republic and in the US – tune Roll Out the Barrel in one of his compositions; although, as he stressed, drums are known not to be able to create melodies.

Playing with genius loci

Fajt noted that one of his compositions, Dance in St Bernard’s Chapel, was composed in and for the space of the Cistercian Monastery in Plasy that was built by Czech architect Jan Blažej Santini Aichel literally on the water: the local swamplands required special technology to prevent the chapel’s wooden frames from decaying. Fajt said that after attending a workshop at Plasy he fell in love with the sound and the space, and decided to create a whole album of music that would be recorded in the several Baroque constructions designed by Santini in the Czech Republic. Thus the CD Souhvìzdí Santini (Constellation Santini) came into existence, comprising music by Fajt, the spiritual work and arrangements of Václav Cílek, but also rational ideas and facts with intriguing emotions and mystical sounds. The booklet coming with the CD is an interesting diary of the project.

In Fajt’s case, the music plays and changes in connection with the specific space – something which is true not just for the impressive music made in Baroque religious constructions in the Czech Republic, but also for the special space of the Museum of Trade. He admitted that he likes rooms like galleries, theatres or churches – or in this case museums – which are not primarily meant for music but do have either nice acoustics or something like a “genius loci”.

The unique, very narrow room at the museum – both the stage and the space for audiences isextremely tight – has special acoustics that partially inspired the concert. Fajt explained to The Slovak Spectator that when performing, he usually has a rough idea of what he intends to play, but adapts the resulting form of the concert to the specific site. He added that in this way any visitor who comes to two or three of his concerts should not be bored, as the music is always slightly different.

As he has now played three times at the museum, which is located in the Bratislava suburb of Podunajské Biskupice, it seems that he has come to like the site a lot. Fajt also said that this type of solo concert has its advantages – like the total freedom, and the concentration of audiences just on him – but added that playing with drummers and percussionists, e.g. at the Gathering of Drummers, or in projects has the added value of giving inspiration and making him adjust to create a joint musical result. The Czech musician also explained his turning away from the classical, simple rock method of playing drums by gradual development and also cooperation with other musicians.

Although there were relatively few spectators at the museum, they managed to create a nice atmosphere and made Fajt give an encore. The manor house of Juraj Albert from the 18th century that houses the museum, which is in the back streets of Podunajské Biskupice, must hold a special appeal to both guest musicians – some of whom come back again and again – and visitors, who have learned to find their way to this inconspicuous building and the cultural specialities it offers.

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