Indies Scope: Healing Properties
For the 30th birthday of record label Indies Scope, Brno Daily looks back at the history of this icon of the Brno music scene, revisiting a selection of the most significant releases from the label’s back catalogue. We are presenting one album every week, with commentary from co-founder Milan Páleš, who started the label with Miloš Gruber in 1990. Image: Courtesy of Indies Scope.
Continuing our retrospective series on key releases from the iconic Brno record label Indies Scope, Brno Daily is today going back to 1996…
The Context in 1996
In a year with three sixes in its name (if you include the upside down), Marilyn Manson had his international breakthrough with his second LP, Antichrist Superstar. He was banned from playing gigs in half of the US states for his summer tour…
On the hip-hop side, The Fugees hit global fame with The Score, and the up-and-comer NAS responded to Tupac’s success with pure east-coast rap on the album It Was Written.
Rage Against the Machine’s second album Evil Empire tried to follow the major success of their first one, with a less musically accessible record but deeper in terms of lyrics and meaning, less revolution and more thinking.
Personally, I was listening to albums by DJ Shadow and Everything but the Girl at the time, lesser-known names who quickly became much more famous, especially on the club scene…
That summer, I had my first contact with the Czech Republic at Euro 1996 in England, when the national football team reached the final with probably the last great generation of Czech football until now. A final lost, but almost a million people welcomed the reprezentace back to Prague. Not bad for a hockey nation…
Meanwhile, at Indies Scope
Priessnitz were one of the most famous guitar rock bands of the nineties. Just before November 1989, a group of young people from Jesenice, playing until then under the name Guys from Work, decided to rename their band after Vincenc Priessnitz, the Jesenice hydrotherapist and founder of the local spa. The young men were singer Jaromír Švejdík, guitarist Petr Kružík, and bassist Libor Halíček, joined by Ladislav Kolompár, then 16, on drums, and guitarist Jiří Vaculík as a guest. In 1992, they made their debut with the album Freiwaldau (Legend), which with its dark guitar sound uncompromisingly reacts to the contemporary Gothic wave, but at the same time inexplicably captures the mysterious potion of its native region. Subsequent albums Nebel (Legend) and Hexe (Bonton) show a similar spirit. The fourth album Seance (Indies records) was produced by Jan P. Muchow, the strings are increasing and the songs are clearly more song-like. Frontman Jaromír Švejdík took care of the cover himself, and thus partially foreshadowed his later drawing career (comic book Alois Nebel).
Milan Páleš remembers… “Another band that immediately left the Bonton label and released this wonderful record with us. Jesenická kytarovka and this recording catch the singer and lyricist Jaromír Švejdík, newly established in Prague, with his best musical ideas and modern lyrics from the life of the city. We are currently releasing an album of remastered recordings on LP.”
Brno Daily reviews…
11 tracks make up this album, the fourth LP from the band and the first with Indies Scope. The average length of the songs is 3 minutes 30, classic for rock standards of that time.
Priessnitz are a band with simplicity and sorrows as trademarks. There is simplicity in the line-up – bass, guitar, drums and singing – and simplicity in the melodies. But simple melodies don’t mean they are ineffective. This is where the sorrow comes in.
The guitar melodies respond well to the monotype singing, like a dialogue of discretion and melancholia, a double-act of effusion and feelings that taste natural.
The songs are often slow in tempo, beginning as ballads and increasing with time into the most complex compositions, and sometimes, as in “Kotě”, more moving beats.
Guitar riffs blossom here and there, giving the whole package a pure rock approach with an undercurrent of dark waves, often built into the second chorus of the songs. This is especially noticeable in “Hvězda”, where you can hear a female voice in the background, supporting the singer during the chorus.
This band could be a perfect mix between the calmest tracks from Type O Negative, with the addition of the melodies from the first Babylon Zoo album (also released in 1996) and the guitar excellence of Colour of Fire. More recently, I would even compare this album to the first two LPs of Slovak band Korben Dallas. Who knows, maybe they were listening to it in 1996…
More from this series:
- Indies Scope 2007: Dialogues With The Past
- Indies Scope 2006: A Roma Superstar
- Indies Scope 2004: Lessons in History, Geography, Music, and Drama
- Indies Scope: Poems That Sing
- Indies Scope: Cello From The Other Side