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 1999…
The Context in 1999
The Internet was blossoming, but the music industry was not prepared at all. Nobody knew really what was coming next, with the world wide web.
In a now-famous interview with ITV that summer, David Bowie said that in his opinion, the whole scene would be shaken, and that the borders between artists and fans or just listeners would be broken down like never before, if not erased.
He was not wrong.
1999 was the beginning of the end of material music, and with it the international record companies’ sole legitimacy in making hits and raising new artists…
The same year, Red Hot Chili Peppers reached the peak of their artistic success with Californication, while third albums from Nine Inch Nails (The Fragile) and Rage Against the Machine (The Battle of Los Angeles) brought both bands critical acclaim for the musical quality, and for RATM in particular their lyrics.
Being a newcomer in 1999 should have been difficult, but why not arrive when everything is about to change. That’s probably what Muse told to themselves, releasing Showbiz and playing their first festival gigs, beginning a decade of major success…
On my side I was crazy for the 2001 Chronicles by Dr.Dre (an instant classic in the legend of the West Coast’s best albums), or the second album by Fiona Apple, with the longest title ever given to an album, a full page of poetry starting with When the Pawn…
Meanwhile at Indies Scope…
Artist: Hradišťan & Jiří Pavlica & Jan Skácel Album: O slunovratu
The album O slunovratu is the result of the setting of Skácel’s poetic works to music, enriched with the no less inspiring wisdom of folk poetry and biblical texts. The selection of lyrics provided the framework for the entire album, set on a fictional journey through different seasons, folk holidays and popular customs.
In 1997, Jiří Pavlica and Ladislava Košíková started working on a full-length music and dance program. The main motive for them was the inner belonging of man with nature, with the cycle of life and death, and indeed with the basic values, which people honour and feel today much less than before, even though they are just as valid as ever. The verses of Jan Skácel, accompanied naturally by folk poetry, naturally offer themselves to express these feelings. The closeness of Skácel’s poetry was further enhanced by the personal meetings of Jiří Pavlica and Hradišťan, with the “forbidden poet” at the very end of the years of imprisonment.
Milan Páleš remembers… “So this is our historic album, the best-selling album released on Indies Records for the whole period of our existence, 30 years. And not just because of the hit “Prayer for Water”, which was played by all Czechs.”
Brno Daily reviews…
13 songs with an average length of 4 minutes composed the LP.
I would classify this album as Medieval folk, with some light baroque influences, with the exception of the track “Karneval”, which is very close to Klezmer.
A record with numerous instruments (guitar, piano, flutes, violin, cello, organ, drums, contrabass and more) but leaving the most important place to the voice.
Often two voices are present, a male and female singer, at first alternating and then uniting, with a great choir added (“Poděkovánas”), increasing the effect of the vocal melodies on the overall composition, as in “Sonet o lásce a modrém portugalu”, for example.
The lyrics, with biblical influences and the atmosphere of a fairy tale, dominate the album symbolically, and are an appeal to sing along on some tracks, giving a sense of continuity from the traditional folk music we spoke about last week.
This album is a natural mix, with a light spiritual decorum, and strong medieval influences.
Brighter than Ataraxia (Italian dark medieval band) and more accessible than Lisa Gerrard’s early works, these tracks are a reminder of a distant era, but not yet faded away, indeed brought back by these musical pieces to once again please the Czech (and non-Czech) audience.