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!CZECH: exploration of adventurous Bohemian sounds

Published January, 2013
by Easterndaze


Ondřej Hlaváč, a music journalist and a blogger, has put together a compilation, a mix that documents the current state of idiosyncratic Czech underground music, merging varius subcultures and communities, which is downloadable from his blog Freakshow. From cosmic compositions, through Suicide-sounding desolate atmospherics, doom pop and beyond.

What motivated you to make the mix?
I’ve been following the happenings on the local scene for a while and got the impression that musicians, who make it, are part of various communities and subcultures. I feel to be part of these subcultures and wanted to unite the best of each into a whole – as can be heard on this compilation. Originally it was supposed to focus on the Klangundkrach collective because I’ve followed their activities for a while now and I am convinced that they are unique not only within the domestic scene, but in general. We eventually decided to make the mix more wide-ranging.

How did you put it together?
It was fairly difficult since there were almost thirty names that deserved to get attention outside of their hardcore fandom, which is great, but I didn’t want to include more than fifteen tracks. The major plus of the mix is the fact that most of the musicians provided exclusive material or previously unreleased tracks, which I appreciate the most. None of these sound like some B-side rubbish “let’s send him some old dusted demo to keep him quiet”. Since the beginning I knew that !CZECH will primarily be released via my blog, with my cover, as a free download since it’s not necessary to pretend to be some ambitious elitist who flaunts his jewels. I want to get it out to people. Not for the mix per se, but for the items on it.

What is your impression of the Czech music scene? Is it specific in some way?
The answer to this question would be enough for a long study, nevertheless, when I look at the local scene through untainted eyes and omit the inability of the media or the hyping of “so-called” discoveries, who don’t deserve this attention because they don’t do anything in particular aside from promoting über fashion labels and their own impasse, I think it’s still ok here, interesting things are happening. I’ve mentioned Klangundkrach, there are also others who do not need to be everywhere even though they would deserve to be. The Prague, Ostrava, Brno scenes have each active labels such as AMDiscs, MámaMrdáMaso, Bleeding Ear, and related club events. Rare, Seed, City Surfer parties at MeetFactory, monDJam at K4.

Art schools breed a bunch of projects – the excellent hibernating Table, Piča z Hoven or the ultra-ethereal Fiordmoss from Brno. Thus, nothing to complain about. The music and musicians I’m talking about do not strive to create global pop because they know that abroad it is pop, but here provincial fabrication, which tries to be wordly. They do it according to themselves, naturally and I enjoy their creations, and I believe them this. They create their own scenes, own expressions, and do not mix up inspiration with theft. I wouldn’t say that there is something as a “Czech sound” but I still hold the opinion that there is such a thing as a “Czech scene”, which does not have an equivalent anywhere else in the world.

Could you mention some projects from the compilation in particular?
I would like to bring up Lightning Glove /listen to our radio interview with them here/ and Sister Body from the aforementioned Klangundkrach label. They explore new avenues, undaunted by experimenting and potential misunderstanding, free and creative.

Same as the affiliated Rouilleux project, who delivered an excellent Nine Horses cover, which brings Sylvian tropes into the land of dark guitar mourning. Dan Machill’s TT project (Tachycardia Theater) from Prague has only been around for a couple of months and I cannot stop extolling his qualities. Sonically, he navigates towards the cosmic compositions of the likes of Motion Sickness of Time Travel or the Emeralds. I also like the work of Sky to Speak from Brno, At Bona Fide from Ostrava or, on the other hand, the straightforward attempt at electropop by the Prague-based Sundays on Clarendon Road.

The compilation is a free download, get it here.