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If anybody could ever put a soundtrack to an epileptic porno, it would be Uz Jsme Doma.
April 4, 2009 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Music in Czech lands in the 20th was tumultuous, to say the least. The artistic freedom of the early 20th century shifted during World War I under Nazi occupation, flourishing again after the war. With the rise of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, arts were "destined to play a great role in the socialist education of the masses," which meant artists were to portray "life as it should be according to Marxist theory." Some bands shifted to more politically acceptable performances, while others went underground. The Velvet Revolution lifted limitations, and artists who had performed illegal shows in private now shared their underground sounds and sights with the world. The Plastic People of the Universe (who some credit with bringing the Revolution) could be considered to embody the Communist repression of the 1970s and 1980s in their gloomy, despair-driven music, with Už Jsme Doma showing a different side of Czech music, representing the exuberance of liberation.

Už Jsme Doma literally translates to we are home, but also means something more like, "well, there we go" in Czech conversation. While Exuberant is a great way to describe the band, perhaps Emotional is better. Within a single song, they can shift from a drunken bar-room sing-along into something akin to high-speed punk, and then start sobbing in their next song, only to reach ecstatic highs again. Their sound has been shaped by their membership, which started with one trained member, Jindra Dolanský. Though trained on the clarinet, Jindra played the saxophone (along with singing backup and being a co-composer), which has been part of the distinct sound of the band. Another key element of the band has been Miroslav Wanek, lead singer, bandleader and (co-)composer since the band's initial re-forming in 1986.

10 years after their initial formation, UJD were the stage band for The Residents' live musical play, Freak Show Live in Prague, as well as the Freak Show Live CD-Rom (discussed previously). Six years later, Jindra left the band in late 2001, to focus on his family and stop the constant touring schedule of UJD. The band continued, and new arrangements of old material used keyboard, guitar lines and vocal melodies to replace the saxophone instead of hiring a new member. In October 2006, a grand 20 year anniversary show was performed in Archa Theater in Prague. The first half of the show covered the history of the band, with the return of Jindra Dolanský on saxophone, while the second half was the current line-up with a 20 piece choir. This show was recorded, and released as 20 Letů (20 Flies or 20 Years, translated as 20 Flyears). In 2006, trumpet player Adam Tomášek was hired as the first horn player in the band since Dolanský's departure. In October, 2007, the band returned to the United States for their first time since 2001, and continue to play.

Interviews: May 1997, and February 2008

--- Videos -----------
Hollywood, the band's first music video (1993)

Amen (incomplete) and Kreslak, Uprostred slov, showing the band's love of costume.

Live in 1999 part 1, part 2.

I believe these are from their 2006 reunion show, even though they are titled as being from 2005:
Kovbojska
Julecek
Tvar (with captions)
Jassica
Napul
Hollywood
Kuzelina
Jo Nebo Nebo (one of their first songs, included as a hidden song after the last track on their Best Of compilation entitled Fifteen Drops of Water)

Live in 2007, with Adam on trumpet
More live audience videos (add &fmt=18 after any video URL for "high quality" youtube videos)
posted by filthy light thief (17 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The post title is from the band's introduction on the live CD from In The Middle Of Words. I can take no credit for that phrase.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:47 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


World War 1? Nazi occupation?
posted by Ginkgo at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2009


Also, the only other post I could find on MetaFilter that referenced UJD was this post, from a MeFite whose actually played at a venue where Uz Jsme Doma was also playing.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2009


Tremendous post. Truly. Thank you for this.

I believe one of the Plastic People wrote the music they now use during the changing of the guards. It was commissioned by Havel (I love that man).
posted by piratebowling at 5:00 PM on April 4, 2009


Filthy Light Thief - this is so fantastic. This band is great! This easily rocks to the top of the best metafilter threads for me.

dude, we so need to hang and talk music.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:06 PM on April 4, 2009


Surely you can't post about this period and it's music without mentioning Tom Stoppard's "Rock n Roll."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:07 PM on April 4, 2009


CheeseDigestsAll - I was focusing on UJD, who I found from a high school friend's older sister. He brought Hollywood over on vinyl, and I loved it. I had some lyrics stuck in my head from 1997 until 2001, never finding the albums anywhere. The college I attended had a radio station with a few of UJD's albums in their library, so I played the band (and spelled out the name =) every chance I had.

Lipstick Thespian - thanks! I've been tweaking this article for a while, as I've been obsessing on the band for a while (clearly). In researching the band, I've found out more about their history, which has been fantastic.

piratebowling - PPU's history is really interesting. They are my next object of fixation (there are some really good summaries of the band in regards to the history of Czechoslovakia).

Ginkgo - oops. That text was copied from Czech.cz, which linked to this page, which I now realize is talking about WWII. Oh, for an edit function, or a better knowledge of history.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2009


Holy shit, they're on Last.fm also! Yes!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:22 PM on April 4, 2009


More links: UJD at Last.fm, Discogs.com, RateYourMusic.com, MusicBrainz.org, and their official MySpace page, as well as facebook.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:43 PM on April 4, 2009


Also: eMusic.com (and Best Of aka 15 Drops of Water), and AllMusic.com. The only thing on Amie Street is the East Timor benefit album, which includes a live version of Jassica, ditto Amazon.com's digital download store.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:52 PM on April 4, 2009


I have been lucky enough to catch them several times here in Portland. The first time I had no idea who they were (they were opening for Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at a tiny club in '99) but was curious what the "old" dudes were gonna play; man did they blow my socks off! I bought every CD they had for sale on their merch table and eagerly anticipated seeing them again.
posted by Asbestos McPinto at 6:00 PM on April 4, 2009


Amazing post, and flagged as such. Thank you!
posted by jokeefe at 6:03 PM on April 4, 2009


wow. this is comprehensive... great post!

last time i was in prague the group i was on tour with opened for these cats.
afterwards, wanek took us to his pad and kept us up all night telling us crazy stories of band life before the revolution. and sharing a lot of elderberry wine with us.

we ended up being in that house for over a week. lots of crazy parties. all their beautiful stage props were stored there, too. and uz jsme doma rehearsing in the downstairs.

i first heard about these cats when dan from sleepytime gorilla museum produced some of their stuff and my friend freddy ended up doing horn work for them. freddie played me some of the stuff and it was such a freak out. two weeks later i was in seattle again and at the crocodile (the old crocodile) and freaking out over these cats on stage. hard to believe i'd be at their band house years later drunk and singing all night. what a nice bunch of people in all their extended form. and lovely music!
posted by artof.mulata at 6:32 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love this band so very much. I've seen them many times and they are tremendous live.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:00 PM on April 4, 2009


I'm just slightly jealous of all you who have seen them live. Every time I look at their tour schedule, they're bouncing around the Czech Republic, with no dates listed for the US. I was glad to find so many videos from (what looks to be) their epic reunion tour, and I'll be picking that up, and trying to find a way to get v Tokin, which looks to only be available in Japan.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:21 PM on April 4, 2009


Did someone say Epileptic Porno? (NSFW, via reddit)
posted by idiopath at 8:37 PM on April 4, 2009


idiopath - Flying Lotus' other music is good, too. He's related to some fantastic musicians, but he generally plays that down.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2009


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