Indies Scope: Honey, We’re Home!
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 2000…
The Context in 2000
We could have said that 2000 was the year of The Marshall Mathers LP, third album from Eminem, which made him an international star.
We could have said that Aaliyah, newly crowned princess of RnB, was releasing her first album with the hit single “Try Again”, before her untimely death the following year.
We could have mentioned OutKast, Erykah Badu, At the Drive-In, The Dandy Warhols, Radiohead, Roni Size, or the many other artists releasing seminal albums that year.
But the real musical event of 2000 was the worldwide fame of Napster, the first peer-to-peer platform, a service allowing anyone to find and download music made available by others. Napster was soon suppressed as illegal, but was followed in its path by eMule, Kazaa, and many others.
This opened the chapter of the digital music download, standardizing with the MP3 format and the streaming platform in their beta version. In hindsight, 2000 signalled the beginning of the end of music in its physical form (though vinyl began a fashionable resurgence due to its popularity with DJs), initiating a deep transformation in the way listeners would buy and consume music.
Meanwhile at Indies scope…
Artist: Už Jsme Doma [“We Are Home”]
Album: Patnáct kapek vody: The Best of UJD
For the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Czech alternative veterans Už jsme Doma, they released a representative cross-section of the six albums already released in the Czech Republic. 15 songs for 15 years. From this selection of songs, many of which are still in their live repertoire, it is clear why Už jsme Doma are among the best exports of Czech culture. Included on this collection were not just the famous tracks (“Unloved World”, “Corrosion”, “Jassica”), but also rarities, such as the song “Metaphysics” from the film Spring, Hell, Autumn, Winter, and a concert version of “Jó nebo nebo” from 1985, sung without a text, in Swahili. The almost 80-minute disc is accompanied by a booklet with slightly disturbing pictures of a non-playing member of the band, artist Martin Velíšek.
Milan Páleš remembers… “UJD took a break after a long and very demanding tour of the USA and Canada. It was not as if Mira Wanek would not make more music, but for us it was an ideal time to release a compilation of their biggest hits, although talking to UJD about hits is bullshit. We released a selection of the best songs from seven albums that the band had recorded on various labels until then. 15 drops of water symbolized 15 years on stage, so there are 15 songs on the album. The band later celebrated their 20th and then 30th years, and there was always another selection of their extremely successful songs.”
Brno Daily reviews…
15 songs are gathered on this “Best of…”, for 15 years together, with an average of five minutes per song, though with a big difference between the shortest and the longest: “Nemilovaný svět / Unloved World” (2m 45) and “Uprostřed slov / In The Middle of Words” (8m 59).
A mix of songs put together for a “Best of…” can’t really show the full identity of a band, but rather its best parts. UJD have been through a lot of line-up changes, with around 20 past members in total, but the band revolves around main musical creator Mira Wanek, frontman and multi-instrumentalist (bass, guitar, keyboards, voice), who writes all the lyrics with heavy poetic influences. However, it is still a collective effort, with bass player, drummer, and trumpetist, providing a chorus of vocals.
We are left with a rollercoaster of songs, passing from slow sections to active shouting, and a chaotic but organized atmosphere, with lots of rhythmic breaks and trumpet melodies. UJD could easily be on the same line-up as bands like Lilliput, Flipper, or The Front Bottoms, ska bands from the late 80s, or of course The Residents, previous UJD collaborators.
I really appreciated the deconstructive approach of the song “Uprostřed slov / In The Middle of Words”, able to make you think for a while, dance for another, and explode pogo-style when necessary. I would also recommend the more serious track “Silence”, where the vocals seem to be an ode to the sadness of a revolution which is never coming.
This band has that punk spirit that only bands from the 80s can get, and they clearly have a lot to say, now with more than a dozen studio albums and several live ones, including one recorded in the Canadian alternative capital of Vancouver. Through the music we can take a tumultuous journey through the multiple sides of Wanek’s band, a strange trip into his mind revealed via the mirror of the collective approach, with a musical vision as diverse as the different sides of his character.
More from this series:
- Indies Scope: Poems That Sing
- Indies Scope: Cello From The Other Side
- Indies Scope: Honey, We’re Home!
- Indies Scope: Changing Seasons
- Indies Scope: Singing From The Heart