Indies Scope: Singing From The Heart

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 1998…

The Context in 1998

This year was a bridge for the musical scene.

Pop stars were still dominating but not for so long. Madonna released the seminal Ray of Light, boy and girl bands were at their absolute peak, with the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and others dominating the airwaves, and some of rock’s big names were delivering some of their best albums, including the Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, and Hole, among others.

But it seems the digital revolution was on its way, and these bands were enjoying the sale of physical CDs for the final years before a point of no return.

On the UK scene, Pulp released the grandiose This is Hardcore, Belle and Sebastian started to gain a mainstream profile, and Massive Attack released their second album, helped by the success of the iconic video to the single “Teardrop”.

DJs were increasingly becoming producers, as Stardust and Carl Cox released massive hits that year. 

But it is without doubt that Lauryn Hill took the title of best album in 1998 with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Her best work until now, it just beat to the line the Outkast album Aquemini, a real mix of musical styles and creativity, almost closing the decade when hip-hop broke through on a worldwide scale, and soon to be opening a new one, in which everyone would be able to get famous for at least 15 seconds…

Meanwhile at Indies Scope…

Artist: Various artists
Album: Zpívání z Horňácka (1998)

A compilation of folk songs from a certain region in Moravia. It captures the atmosphere of natural folk music typical of Horňácko and some other regions in the first half of this century. A meeting of musicians and singers who met in ad hoc and constantly changing groups, for example on the doorstep of their house, and played and sang songs meaningful to the generation of their parents or grandparents just for the pleasure of sharing them together. In the 1990s, the recording was also in part a tribute to the oldest generation of mountain singers, without whom the picture of the region’s singing would be considerably incomplete and who – although sometimes beyond the peak of their singing power – were able to give their songs a taste of something real and unfettered.

Milan Páleš remembers… “Our first real folk album. The production was taken over by my friend Martin Kozlovský from the band Hrozně. I went with him to Velká to record, but I had no idea how much the Horňácko folklore and landscape would appeal to me and how many Horňácko albums I would release in the next 20 years. Horňácké songs are just my love, and I think some more albums will be released with us.”

Brno Daily reviews… 

There are 21 songs from these various folkloric singers and instruments on this album, with an average length of 2min 30, easily understandable given the fact that this music is made to be sung repeatedly, and even more times on days of celebrations.

It’s all about male or female voices giving the tone, with a mix of simple stories about life in the countryside, love and betrayal, humour and fantasy, harvest and alcohol.

To listen to this album is to travel to a time that Moravia is trying to keep alive nowadays, with numerous folkloric festivals in wine regions and border regions like Slovacko, inviting visitors to admire the costumes and ritual and dance or sing together with the villagers. 

It is not only about music but really about history, which is as big a mix as the region is, with Hungarian, Slovak, French, and Austrian heritage, as well as Roma and Jewish influences, brought these tribes to exist and these songs to come to us.

The songs on the album reveal one aspect of the live performance, the intensity of the lyrics supported sometimes by choirs, giving the group effect the magical switch, the impression of unity in times of change, of a solid heritage able to be transmitted by the power of music. 

This LP is probably really interesting for anyone who wants to get to the remaining roots of this region, and also a great sign of open-mindness from the label, able to gather new vital artists and experimental albums as well as much more traditional music such as this, with an aftertaste of slivovice in the mouth before dancing under the Moravian sun. 

 You can stream the album here, or find out more information on Indies Scope.

More from this series:

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