Saturday, September 20, 2008


Though emerging from a rather less art warped perspective than their more well known down-in-the-mouth antecedents and contemporaries from The Plastic People Of The Universe to the MCH Band, E's hectic, guitar-centric and truculently churning sturm und drang is still identifiably of the same raw boned gene pool. Repetitive passages of anxious string wrangle underpin outbursts of cathartic vocal strafe and smolder, both hitched to just enough structural undergirding to thrust these febrile phrases right up under your nose.

Get it Here


Lou Kash said...

What do you mean by "less art warped perspective"...?
Vladimír Kokolia, "E"'s singer and lyricist, is primarily a successful art painter...

Ostřanský and Václavek were core members of Dunaj then (also featuring Iva Bittová & Pavel Fajt at times), as well as playing with many other short-lived alternative projects around Brno. That was quite a different scene than those scenes based in Prague, be it the "underground" around PPU, or the alternative scene where Mikoláš Chadima's Extempore/MCH Band emerged from.

By the way, in the early 90s we booked E (or Dunaj, for that matter) several times for gigs in a club in Switzerland where I used to work then, and it was always an exciting experience. :)

vdoandsound said...

lou kash-Needless to say, you know a helluva lot more about this band than I do, and and after hearing all that you've pointed out, my opinions are clearly off here. Very interesting tho know all that background info. Having said that, to those that don't live where you do and have your sort of firsthand knowledge of the scene there, E are very much a mystery group (hand up all of you who knew all about them) and without knowing all the names and background connections myself, I could only go by what my ears hear.

Lou Kash said...

No problem, that's why I'm often "plugging in" on blogs which are occassionally posting Czech music, just to get some facts straight. :) And that's why I started my own "Funky Czech-In" two years ago, although with focus on specific genres.

Regarding "E", it's pretty obvious that it's not all that easy to use internet search engines in order to find some info on them... Besides, if you would check sites that refer to Kokolia's music activities, most of them are written in Czech anyway.

As for the names: aren't they mentioned somewhere on the lyrics sheet insert? (I'll look up the album when I get home.)

Anonymous said...

I do wish there weren't "reviews" like say in a music magazine like Rolling Stone or Spin or Q or Mojo or such -- just plain cold info about the bands and releases. I would have much less romantic description and more along the lines of, here's the music, here's where they're from, here's what they've done, here's what's known about them, here's what they're doing now. The romanticism sometimes suggests to me that I'm reading someone practicing writing craft for a novel rather than writing about music! It's not that it's a bad thing, and no I'm not bitching about it; it's simply not particularly useful to me for finding more music like this, and frequently I just glance at the description to see if it's weighted more toward info or romantic description. I *am* glad the quoting from other sources (such as wikipedia or perfect sound) has stopped for the most part ... it's so much nicer to read two or three sentences of original thought than a huge chunk of words borrowed from somewhere else.

Such romantic writing such as a review though has never been useful to me, because I don't hear music as a romantic gesture. A good example is that Devil Doll album -- the description says something about don't listen with the lights off or late at night or something, it will scare you to death -- something to that effect. I heard it first about 4am -- it was queued up randomly in the player. It didn't scare me at all, because I don't associate hearing music with a fear emotion -- I'm rather conscious that I'm listening to speaker cones vibrating. I suppose it's a very Zen way of looking at it, and I must have gotten it from Cage (who was one of my music teachers). Movies don't scare me either for the same reason that I'm conscious of watching a very elaborate light show on a wall or on a little box. But, concerning the Devil Doll album, I didn't associate it with any emotion at all; it was a sound sculpture passing by in my room, and a very enjoyable one at that. I might laugh when I hear a particularly unexpected sound (Hanatarash is always good for a giggle). Something really extraordinarily different -- some sort of clever sound organisation -- might elicit pleasure, but usually I just think, gee I'd like to hear that again.

I hear music as sound in space, frequencies oscillating if you will, and none of it elicits a particular emotion other than contentment at hearing something that I wouldn't hear in public or on the radio -- it's the reason why I listen to this music in the first place. I *don't* listen to it to "be weird" or to "be artistic" (sometimes the descriptions suggest that this is the reason most of this music is here) and I'm offended if someone hearing it in passing suggests it's weird. It's not weird else there wouldn't be so bleeding much of it! The person suggesting it's weird is weird for not having an imagination! I really do wish this were popular music on the level of Madonna or Ting Tings or Spice Girls etc, readily available in the area where I live and not something one has to dig for, but on the other hand I'm glad it's not because things that wouldn't ordinarily stick do.

That said, keep up the great work, keep writing the romantic stuff if that's what tickles you -- I thought you might want to know that sometimes it's not so useful and I'm sure I'm not the only one that just skims it to see whether it's weighted more toward romantic description or actual info.

Anonymous said...

I have this on vinyl, it was one of the records brought back by the Tone Dogs from a Czech tour in 1990, but I've never gotten around to digitizing it, so many thanks.

Vaclavek and Ostransky are a couple of my favorite musicians through numerous ensembles, Dunaj, Rale, Domaci Lekar, E, etc. Vaclavek sticks exclusively to acoustic guitar now, and he's a great player, but I miss his nimble bass playing from earlier days. Check out any of the Dunaj recordings (or the two clips of them with Iva Bittová on her Superchameleon DVD). Their emotionally charged minimalism, what Chris Cutler noted as "counter-intuitive overlapping parts" made for an unique sound, and it's already fully formed on E.

As well check out Arminius with Vaclavek and Ferdinand Richard on basses and Takumi Fukushima (also in Rale) and Helmut Bieler-Wendt on violins.

Anonymous said...

thanks times 100

Anonymous said...

Does someone know how to find lps or cds of "E"? I have an old live cassette and the sound is not very good anymore but I think it was a great band! It seems that it's impossible to find anything even in Prague. Or maybe someone could send me an mp3?
Thank you!