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The Plastic People of the Universe & Filharmonie Brno CZ

The Plastic People of the Universe & Filharmonie Brno

"New Bond?" asked Matwe, when the Plastic People with the Philharmonic started to play in our office. All sort of people have played with an orchestra, in this case, however, it is an exceptionally successful union, as the songs of the Plastic People sound fantastic. The arranger Michal Nejtek added the Plastic People an unprecedented power through a hypnotic theme.

"Co znamená vésti koně" is the third thematic project of The Plastic People of The Universe. The music of Hlavsa is united with the original lyrics by Vratislav Brabenec from 1967– 1979 and with the text of Samson by Pavel Zajíček that fits spiritually into the concept of the project. "Horses" were created when the band was banned, played about once a year at secret events and each concert was the premiere and at the same time the last performance of the new programme. For example, they pretended their performances were weddings of their friends and fans.

The concert "Co znamená vésti koně" took place in March 1981 in Kerhartice near Česká Lipa. Thanks to thorough secrecy, it was played without an intervention of the repressive forces, but the house where it was held burnt down a few weeks after the event. The ŠtB’s (State Security) message was clear – every space where a concert will be held illegally will be burnt down. After this experience, the band didn’t play anything in that line-up and Brabenec emigrated after further pressure. "Horses" are not only the highlight of the cooperation between Hlavsa / Brabenec, but also the bravest excursion to the little explored areas of rock. As if in the most difficult time of their existence (when they could no longer play publicly or privately), the band responded to the situation by internal exile and escape from the rock spirit and rock matter: "If you do not allow us to play songs, we will make an oratorio."

The Plastic People of the Universe (PPU) were founded in 1968. Their work, initially influenced by the American Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, became one of the most original ones not only on the Czech rock scene. The group didn’t allow themselves to be forced into concessions and compromises against the regime (the authorities demanded the repertoire to be edited, the name to sound Czech and their hair to be cut), which deprived them of the necessary professional license. Without it, they couldn’t play officially or receive royalties, they had their equipment taken from them, and so on.

The band's systematic persecution culminated in 1976 with the imprisonment of several of its members. The group of opposition intellectuals, headed by Vaclav Havel, then organized a campaign to support them and release them which culminated in Charter 77. The Rock'n'roll band thus became a stimulus to the union of the democratic opposition of all directions, unprecedented in the then communist countries. The musicians became friends with Václav Havel and recorded two of their semi-professional illegal records at his cottage in Hrádeček. Throughout the whole time, the group maintained a clear artistic vision and developed musically into an unmistakable expression that gained recognition around the world, where their records often got in extremely complicated ways.

“The Plastic People have kept admirable inner freedom all the time. They liked the music so much that they didn't make any compromises. At times, there is an opinion that in their case “it wasn’t about music” – I don’t know anyone on the home scene who lived for music as much as they did. They were willing to go to prison for it – yet they’ve kept perspective all the time and often refuse too much praise to their address. Yet, if someone in our area is an example of the power of art, it’s them. If you think they’re still not your cup of tea, come to see their Philharmonic concert, it's worth it,” adds Michal Kaščák.