When recording Minstrel’s Beads, Ká realized that he had the completing portion of a trilogy. Now in three Mays, we’ve reviewed a Ká album ~ In the Land of Lonesome Vicarages in 2020 and A Hidden River in 2021, stretching the arc of the pandemic as well as a pivotal era in the artist’s life. After a period of soul-searching, Ká received his baptism this past Easter, the outer mark of an inward and spiritual change. It may be no mere coincidence that a trilogy is in a way like a Trinity, or that the Scriptures are loaded with what is often termed “the holy 3s.”
The album plunges listeners back into the bucolic sounds of a Bohemian forest, rife with birds, cows, crickets and dogs. Those familiar with prior works may recall the artist’s journeys across the area, his visits to ancient, crumbling houses of worship, and their connection to land. The walks provided rejuvenation during the pandemic, memory connected to spirit, the thread of life running from creation to the modern day. But now he delves even deeper, connecting to the art of Jan Priesler, the writings of Herman Hesse and the generations of musicians before him, as described by Czech narrators (with English translations found in the lyrics). The artist reaches multiple epiphanies at once, finding his place in a golden tapestry of physical, artistic and spiritual creation. The track title “Autumn Narrates About Hope” implies that God is speaking through sight and sound as well as Scripture and Spirit. Recognizing this thread, Ká finds wonder in the woodpecker. The industrious forager is searching for grubs: life among the dead. God will provide.
The album tilts toward two events, one public and one personal. While recording this album, and remembering that he was part of the prophecy in Friendly Greetings from Pre-War Bohemia, Ká laments the arrival of war and expresses solidarity with the victims in “Blue and Golden in Grey Morning,” referencing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. War is a scourge on both communities and environments, a blight on flora and fauna, a leaching of color and sound. By turning his thoughts outward, Ká completes this leg of his journey, which began with an inward trajectory. “Baptism” is a quiet, yet joyous expressions of a distance traveled, a life in balance, a higher calling. The water of baptism is connected to the flowing water of a stream. In body, Ká is the same man who walked alone into a Bohemian forest all those years ago. In spirit, he has become something new. (Richard Allen)