Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cz-, Cz-, Czech It Out: The Prague-Rock of Už Jsme Doma

Už Jsme Doma (that's easy for you to say) is the greatest Czech band that I know. Granted, they're just about the only Czech band that I know, since I have never Czeched out (sorry, I'll stop now) The Plastic People of the Universe, tho I know I should.  (Robert Christgau says that The Plastic Peeps are his favorite prog band, so that probably put me off them a bit.)

These crazies hit the American college radio scene with this 1990 release and subsequent tours, and appear to still be going strong. "Uprostøed Slov" is an ADD-riddled affair that unpredictably veers from complex prog, to Residential high-voiced silliness, to hardcore punk - and that's just in the first song. What sounds like chimes, penny whistle,  violin, and marimba compete with aggressive rock instrumentation, and vocals that range from operatic to punk shoutiness. There's a humorous air to the performances that leads me to think that their lyrics are probably pretty funny, too. (Can anyone confirm?) Listen to, say, "Soubor opatøení" if you think you don't like "progressive" rock. It is some whacked-out, fun stuff - prog you can pogo to.

Už Jsme Doma: "Uprostøed Slov"

Central/Eastern European pop/rock seems to be either the cheesiest of Eurovision/schlager pop and techno disco, or, on the other hand, complex classically-inspired metal/prog rock and jazz. Is there nothing in the middle? Poland's Gameboyzz Orchestra spring to mind with their nutty video-game pop, but otherwise I'm stumped. Maybe the trashy fun of (some) American music is a reflection of our trashy culture. Or maybe we're just too dumb to know how to dance in 14/8 time...

4 comments:

Blitz said...

Thanks for posting this! I saw them several times in Toronto in the 1990s and they were without exception AMAZING live - some of the better shows I've ever seen.

r-tine said...

So GLAD to see you writing about Uz Jsme Doma. Felt in love (completely by chance, because I loved the cover of the album and then bought it) with the band around 10 years ago and remains for me one of the best bands in the world (notably live).
But since I realized there are many great bands/artists in the Czech Republic, including Iva Bittova (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEZg3TX1k_g), Metamorphosis (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_la0Wxa5Mz4), OTK (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYIX5iZEMak), Tara Fuki (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPVsfwxYJqY), etc.

This French site allows to buy some of those great rock/avant-garde/prog-punk/folk/... bands: http://www.moo.free.fr/site/body_catalogue_cd.html

Mr Fab said...

Thanks r-tine, don't know these artists, but really like what I've heard so far. Metamorphosis (who are apparantly from Vienna, but record for a Czech label) in particular impress me. And OTK might be the first crunge-prog band I've heard.

Def a part of the world I wish I knew more about. This might be a good place to start:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Czech_musical_groups

r-tine said...

You're welcome... by the way Uz Jsme Doma released a DVD to celebrate their 20 years and most of the concert is visible on YouTube Not only great music but also nice scenography (and the choir present in a few songs is great too): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91civPyzX4I&feature=bf_next&list=PLE75FC827E7B5F459