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Uz Jsme Doma: Caves

It is hard to imagine a world where composing and performing the music that you are passionate about would see you persecuted, or mean you have to take the extreme action of regularly performing on an off shore pirate boat to avoid prosecution. However it was under these circumstances that the (then Czechoslovakian) Czech Republic avante-garde, jazz, prog, punk, folk rockers Uz Jsme Doma were born. Thankfully with the passing of the regime that was in power in the eighties, bands like Uz Jsme Doma have not only been accepted into mainstream society, but are celebrated in their homeland and since the turn of the nineties, have had the opportunity of touring the world in support of their music.

Caves is my first exposure to the work of Uz Jsme Doma and I to say that I have been hugely impressed by what I've found. The two most impressive aspects of the music on Caves are the amazing amount of styles and genres melded together on this album and the remarkable arrangements that allows that stunning marriage of sounds to be as striking, emotional and memorable as they are. The band's main songwriter Miroslav Wanek, who plays guitar and piano as well as handling lead vocals, has created a collection of songs that are urgent and vibrant slabs of eclectically joyous mayhem of the most organised manner. Surprisingly though is the fact that many of the songs are actually led by the stunning melodic trumpet work of Adam Tomasek (who is augmented by guest musician Lukas Mot'ka's trombone) and the multi-layered vocals of Wanek, Tomasek and bassist Pepa Cervinka. At times these vocals take the shape of punkish screamed shouts and yells and at others the effect is almost that of Gregorian chanting! I know that it sounds a bit like a bizarre mix of thoughts and styles destined never to work, but believe me when I tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I would go as far as to suggest that Caves really encapsulates what truly progressive music should be all about. I would also add that I'm not surprised that a band making music that side steps the "normal" boundaries of prog, hails from a country that has a musical scene less reliant on other established band's past glories for inspiration.

The vocals are all sung (and howled and chanted) in the band's native tongue, but that really isn't a problem at all, with unknown shouts and exclamations actually enhancing the music rather than hindering it. Interestingly the lyrics are reproduced in English in the CD booklet (beautifully designed and created by Martin Velisek, who is credited as a full member of the band using "brushes and paints"), so while you can't necessarily "sing-a-long", it is possible to follow the deeply intense and claustrophobic concept behind Caves.

Challenging, angular, melodic, passionate, moving, stirring, never predictable and hugely satisfying, Caves is an album that progressive music fans really need to hear.

Track Listing
01. Cave
02. Droplet
03. Abyss
04. Reel
05. Nugget
06. Fascination
07. Ceilings
08. Shelter
09. Marianne
10. Cranny
11. Lullaby For Anezka

Added: January 21st 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Uz Jsme Doma Official Web Site
Hits: 1833
Language: english

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