Various Artists — Czeching In
(Skoda SK0005-2, 1995, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-05-01
Well, well, well, I was as unprepared for this omnibus CD as one could be. Apart from Iva Bittová, Dunaj, and Už Jsme Doma, little other Czech rock music of a creative nature seemed to hit foreign shores. I had almost given up on this now divided country. It just goes to show that ignorance isn't bliss, that good music is always in existence; you just have to search more diligently for it. Compilation works are notoriously the domain of the radical and experimental; most often you find some work of real merit, some that threaten the boundaries of taste, and some out-and-out dross. This is where Czeching In differs considerably, in that an equilibrium of quality is maintained for the distance. Not realizing this at first, my finger poised over the fast-forward button, and a pair of ear plugs close at hand, I had awaited a painful experience of tooth-grinding noise and sonic assault and battery. But lo and behold, how surprised I was — hardly a loser in the bunch. Furthermore, most of the songs are of a pop and rock domain, with just twist of the avant here and there for color.
What they may forfeit in terms of exploration, they certainly make up for in their creative tongue-twister names. The Caribbean flavors of Buty, and Yoyo Band, would probably be more at home on a reggae album, actually. Moving closer to progressive quarters, Tornádo Lue show signs of a Crimson disciple with their abrasiveness, while Tichá Dohoda resemble 80s Rush with female voice. Award for the most singularly unique band must go to Už Jsme Doma. The zaniness, the way they arrange for voices and horns — I can find no trace of the influential stamp of another group. Laura A Její Tygři share their flair for duo vocals. Singing seems to hold much weight in the context of Czech music, as there is not an instrumental piece anywhere on the CD. Dunaj, too, are instantly identifiable with their tightly executed quirkiness. But hands-down favorite for me was "Vodopady" by Zuby Nehty, whose awesome efforts aspire to Oldfield proportions and make the grade with room to spare. Again, vocals are featured in duo form and sound similar to Iva Bittová; keys, flute and bass (guitar is absent) combine on this upbeat tune, and the drummer uses no cymbals. A beautiful song. Czeching In was absolutely nothing as I expected it would be. If you are looking for creatively produced songs, instead of instrumental pieces, you won't be disappointed.
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