As we get ready for another spring full of cherry blossoms, the Philadelphia Museum of Art helped set the mood by inviting Praha Depart to perform at their Art After 5 program on March 8. The avant-garde gypsy rock band from Tokyo was on it’s third tour of the US, but made its Philadelphia debut at the PMA.
The name Praha Depart is a combination of praha, the Japanese word for Prague and departo which aside from its English meaning is the Japanese word for department store. Lead singer, Mai Yano explained that the band chose its name because of its appreciation for Czech artists. It certainly meshes well with their bohemian outlook and sound.
Praha Depart are difficult to define sonically, but the most striking element is definitely Yano’s voice. Soaring, powerful, at times piercing, Yano’s vocal range is impressive beyond words. Videos of the group – often taken by cell phone cameras – do poor service to her talent. The band as a whole is not just technically proficient, but manages to meld together to create songs that have the hazy quality of a lucid dream state. The raw power of each of the members threatening to wake you from the trance you’ve been lulled into.
While certainly not for everyone, we’d like to thank Praha Depart for their performance and the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a great evening.