Urban Fungus is Prague’s Best-kept Secret

Pictures by Jiri Kotal

“Keeping it low profile” is probably the mantra of Petr Danda, the person behind Urban Fungus — a music and sound curating project from Prague that serves a rather fine blend of psychedelic rock and 60s inspired beat music, covered into a curtain of sound effects and reverb that would remind you of standing by the ocean on a stormy day.

It’s never just a gig when Urban Fungus is playing though. Having studied architecture, Petr started Urban Fungus as a musical project to publish his songwriting not on records or the world wide web, but rather in spaces! Currently backed up by drummer Ondra Lahoda and bassist Jiří Mika, Urban Fungus seeks to make use of the different sound properties that are unique to different spatial environments and let people explore architecture and other visual works through echoing their songs in them.

Following this concept, Petr and his fellow musicians helped organize and performed at events such as the fundraising and DIY construction of skateboard ramps while taking the stage in reflective vests and hard-hats, played at exhibition openings to underline the visual aspects of the exhibited works with their sound and managed to make a mark in Prague’s underground scene, performing at The Solution, an event space by Prague based Dadaist artist Mark Divo, to mention a few.

In summer we attended Urban Fungus’ latest collaboration with Prague based Korean illustrator and artist Jena Zang on her Chromesthesia exhibition project. Taking place in a former baroque invalid war veterans dormitory built in the 16th century in Prague’s Karlín district, this event probably best captures Petr’s approach of combining space and sound: An experiment of reviving abandoned places that lost their original purpose decades ago through a fusion of various medias, in this case Urban Fungus’ wall of sound and Jena Zangs colourful illustrations. A spatial, visual and sonic experience that wrapped visitors in a purple haze of cozy lights and trippy sonic waves within the premises of historic architecture.

Already walking through the war veterans endless hallways while following the sound of tuning instruments was an intense experience. After digesting the monumental scale and sheer size of the whole complex (of which only 1/9 was built by the way) we find ourselves in a spacious room with high ceilings just on time for the start of the set. Urban Fungus starts out with seagull sounds imitated by guitar and sound effects that turn into deeply atmospheric riffs that help you tune your mind into the right wave-lengths. Strategically channeling his vocals through an array of reverbs, you may not grasp the meaning of Petr’s lyrics by their words, but rather by the resulting atmosphere. While the whole band is literally wrapped in refugee tin-foils that add extra layers of sound and visual effects to the overall experience, the laid-back melodic rhythms and psychedelic guitar licks may make you move your feet or may just generate a smile on your face – depending on your state, that is to stay.

Later we meet with Petr to discuss his desire to seek ways of connecting architecture and sound, a concept that he originally came up with after hearing somebody on the radio say: “Music is way more powerful than architecture. Cause, you know, I’ve never heard a person walk down the street and hum a building.” Having a both musical and architectural background, he thought combining both would be quite the deal.

We could definitely agree to that one, after this fine setting of forgotten architecture, trippy paintings, and mind-expanding music we are looking forward to Urban Fungus’ next project.