Saturday, October 30, 2010

Undiscovered Czech History: Plastic People

The Plastic People Of The Universe (group; formed 1968)
Magic Nights (Munster Records)

The Plastic People Of The Universe were a fantastic and extremely revolutionary group in all the exact terms. This collective formed in the late '60s in Prague under Soviet rule which happened just a month after the bands formation.

This isolation of the times is reflected in throughout their music with elements of radical classical gypsy-esque movements in addition to Western influences like Velvet Underground and The Mothers Of Invention (to whom the bands name is derived). The music is a combination of dark love themes, rhythmic world genres and wrapped within the political strife of the era. The best way to describe it would be like going to a concert with Can, YMO, Kraftwerk, Mothers Of Invention and Velvet Underground all playing taking turns performing during one set. Yes, that would be awesome. And The Plastic People Of The Universe are that cool.

A brand new collection just came out that captures the significant moments of this band long, up and down career. Magic Nights (Munster Records) covers 1969 - 1985) covers the multiple changes in the band; from the early prog rock experimentation's to poetic structures under Egon Bondy. The band was literally "the underground". Their albums were recorded a various locations as so not be caught by Czech authorities and band member were consistently harassed and in some cases jailed.

It wasn't until the late 80s and various break ups and reincarnations that the group got any stability. Shortly after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and under President Vclav Havel (a friend and follower of the band) that the band began to tour and record more frequently.
In terms of revolutionary music, The Plastic People Of The Universe are definitely a true symbol of that just as Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong were to the world of music. Magic Nights is not just a great compilation--it is a serious historical document that if you are a fan of any of the artist I've mentioned you should definitely looking into this collection.

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