Magazine article Czech Music


Magazine article Czech Music


Article excerpt

Velkomesto [Metropolis] Black Point Music 2001

Total Time: 2 CD, 90 min

Black Point is working hard on its archive series: the end of 20D1 saw the release of a concert recording of Extempore's Metropolis programme. One recording of Metropolis already exists - released in 1991 on LP by Globus International - but the sound quality and the performance were not exactly brilliant The new CD presents a different concert performance (with the group in much better form). It is much better quality and is even mastered. The CD is accompanied by a lavish 160-page booklet that maps the band's career and texts, and unlike the LP, it offers the complete concert programme.

Metropolis, gradually developed in 1979-1981 represented the summit of Extempore's output and was the first major achievement of its then leader Mikolas Chadima In the context of Czech unofficial rock it was a highly significant work, since Extempore is a rare example sofa band whose musical high point coincided with the high point of its popularity. This is why Metropolis has had such a major influence on later generations.

Metropolis is formally composed of five parts, but is in fact made up of two. The first thirty-minute section (CD1) consists of "Themes I-IV" linked up attaca, while the second part (CD2)s "theme V" -- Dreams of the Inhatitants of the Metropolis' is an hour-long bloc of songs.

Themes I-IV are long, still fresh pieces that really work. Mainly instrumental, but with a short vocal inset in the middle -- they show Extempore continuing in its tradition of "composed programmes". If we leave aside the rather cliched percussion breaks in the first theme and he fact that the third theme is slightly weaker that the others, we have to admit that it all fits together perfectly, is organically integrated into a cohesive whole (which given an average track of around 7 minutes is not to be taken for granted), and is never grating or overdone. Anyone who has followed Chadima's work over the last twenty years will realise immediately that the foundation of his future "macabre lyric" style was laid here, however much the singing and especially the texts are more a foreshadowing of new wave. The combination of ostinato, acoustic and noise passages (specially treated guitar) and typical Chadimovian melodies (especially in the first and last theme) created a distinctive music that in my view remains fully alive to this day. …

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