Indies Scope: Musical Experiments in Changing Times

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 1992… 

The context 

We are in 1992, and Czechoslovakia are competing in the Summer Olympics in Barcelona for the last time as a united nation, as the Czech and Slovak Republics are on the verge of a “Velvet Divorce” due to political differences.

In music, Nirvana’s album Nevermind, released in 1991, takes the Billboard #1 spot in January 1992, replacing Dangerous by Michael Jackson. Grunge is now on top, but who knows for how long? 

In the UK, a new electronic group from Bristol is touring Europe for the first time. Massive Attack’s Blue Lines album, released in 1991, is becoming hugely popular, and without knowing it the band is opening a new cycle in modern music: the era of trip-hop is beginning.. 

Indies Scope release…

Artist: Pirates 44.

Album: Strženi proudem

Milan Páleš remembers… “The band Piráti 44 was founded by guitarist Slávek Hamaďák along with Petr Vyšohlíd from the band Meat House Chicago, as the first rap group in our country, Pirates. Buzz-sawing guitars with Czech lyrics, from the time when grunge rock was experiencing its greatest glory.”

Although they were labelled the Czech answer to the Beastie Boys, their American counterparts were a little rougher and tougher…

The style of Hradec Králové’s rap stars was reciting Czech lyrics over a hip-hop background created by sharp guitar riffs and a drum machine. Publicist Vladimír Vlasák wrote about their musical expression: “They recite, mix, hiss, whine, yell, bubble, sizzle, scream and, of course, play. The bursts of sounds are followed by bursts of sound while jokes are followed by more jokes.”

Brno Daily reviews… 

This album is composed of 13 tracks, with an average length of 3:30.

The band mainly uses a structure based on deep, clear (and automatic) drums, cutting powerful guitars and discordant melodic vocals and slow spoken word (close to a slow rap style at times)

The long slow intros, interrupted by explosive guitars and with the vocals joining last, are the common structure of all the songs. 

The overall impression of the album is a sound very close to a live session, and improvisation in the recording and production. It is at the same time simply presented and full of a slow dark charisma, an illustration in some way of the chaotic atmosphere of the times. The record seems to take its place right in the middle of something achieved and something just starting. 

If the attitude feels post-punk, the album also has some post-rock touches, an alien mix of Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys (which could also be the Breeders or the Amps on a musical hangover), rendered in the Czech language. 

Ja Za tebou, the LP’s longest track, illustrates the melancholia of the vocals wrapped up in a simple but efficient instrumentation.

Daleko okelad, the last song of the album, is close to experimental rock, with vocal echoes and creepy arrangements. As a final track which would have no follow-up, as the band released only one album, it is a perfect farewell.

You can listen to the album here, or find out more information at the Indies Scope website. Logically, recordings from the early 1990s can be unclear due to the condition of recording studios of the time.

More from this series

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail