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OTA PETRINA

Symphonic Prog • Czech Republic


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Ota Petrina biography
Ota Petřina is a Czech art-rock symphonic prog band masterminded by Ota Petřina himself. When he was not involved in prog music, he was involved in contributing to the writing of pop songs for various artists and music for films. The band are renowned for their popular Czechoslovakian album "Super Robot" that was a unique project in 1978 with strong Genesis influences and Pink Floyd atmospherics. The members of the band are virtuoso musicians consisting of bass guitarist, Vladimir Padrůňek, drummer, Anatoli Kohout, and piano, and synthesizer by Jan Neckář. The leader of the group on vocals, guitar, flute, and harmonica is Ota Petřina, who consistently ensured the band maintained a progressive art rock style. The music is a textured blend of synthesizers and solid guitar riffs. The drumming is jazz influenced at times and there are layers of keyboards. Some songs are acoustically driven and with minimalist piano. Often there is a heavier feel with distorted guitars and faster tempo, but overall the feel of the music is slow paced, and ambient, often with spacey or psychedelic atmospheres. The cover work of the "Super Robot" album cover is a striking design by Petr Foltera. Sung entirely in Czech language, the album fared well in their home country but was not heard of in other parts of the world.

The followup album was "Pečet" (which means "The Seal") in 1983, again with Czech lyrics and, though not as popular as "Super Robot", is still known in prog circles as another solid example of Czech art-rock. It features a mini epic "Hemmingway" that clocks in at 15 minutes. The sound is unmistakably driven by orchestral arrangements, in a similar vein to Yes, but what makes this unique is the sound of Petřina's voice; a very clean, soft vocal that lends itself to an ambient style. The basslines are distinctive and well executed by Padrůňek. The flute passages are played deftly by Petřina and add a pastoral flavour. The albums were both released on Supraphon Labels on vinyl. Due to the harsh conditions for musicians in Czechoslovakia back then, the albums sound rather like mid and late 70s (respectively) instead of late 70s or early 80s. The band continues to influence Czech prog artists with their unique symphonic brand of prog rock.

by AtomicCrimsonRush (Scott)

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OTA PETRINA discography


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OTA PETRINA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 22 ratings
Super Robot
1978
3.81 | 18 ratings
Pečet
1983

OTA PETRINA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OTA PETRINA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OTA PETRINA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 7 ratings
Komplet
2009

OTA PETRINA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

OTA PETRINA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Super Robot by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 22 ratings

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Super Robot
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I have had an obsession, sort of, since my teens and that is the fascination for space and space travel in the old Eastern block. Ever since I saw the movie Solaris (1972) in the grip of teenage pompousness, I have been hooked. Sci-fi seems to have grown as strong, if not stronger, over there as in the rest of the World. Pink Floyd had their space-groove going on, Hawkwind as well. And that's all fine but the music of Eastern Europe was booming, at least it would seem so. One of THE premier albums with a sci-fi theme is Solaris Marsbeli kronikak, which is a beautiful album revolving around a sci-fi theme and spacey prog. Others may be Niemens Ode to Venus or the polish Exodus output. One of the great albums in this genre is Ota Petrinas Super Robot.

The music on Super Robot is quite gentle and spacious. I get the feel of floating, only occasionally but in an extremely tasteful way, being awaken by sudden outbursts of hard rock(ish) elements. The music resembles the night time sky, really. Imagine looking up at the sky at night when the stars are out and the moon is hidden. Super Robot is the perfect companion to such an event.

The songs are all gentle but there are exceptions, like "Computer III" which is a very forceful, monotonous (in a good way) track which breaks off the tapestry in a really cool way. The best track, for me, is the title track though. Just the title, "Super Robot", says it all. I do not understand anything of the lyrics except for Super and Robot but I can make up fantasies about the lyrical content, envisioning the intro to Bladerunner and the future for mankind as it is, however gloomy, portayed in future visions of the world. The track holds great keyboards, vocals and spacy guitar. It all blends together nicely, creating a tapestry of spacious, emotive soundscapes. I'll tell you, it is majestic and soothing in a marvellous way.

Comparisons can be made to David Gilmours guitar playing and some elements of Floyd but the album retains it's own identity and purpose. Petrinas vocals are frail, sometimes bordering on breaking up. It is, however, not a problem. His voice is, rather, a nice complement to the soft and gentle music. Worth mentioning, the flute which sometimes soar through the music brings almost a medieval touch to the whole thing. That makes the album span over decades, centuries almost, but Always heading for the future with it's sci-fi robots and travels through dimensions.

Czechoslovakia is the country which, besides Poland, seems to have had the most flourishing prog scene of the Eastern block. They can boast, for instance, such a tremendous band as Modry Efekt (or Blue Effect), who were able to produce in a Life span of only 10 years, or there about, a string of ever progressing and flawless albums. Ota Petrinas remaining output, which seems to be rather manageable to get acquainted with, I cannot say much about. The album Super Robot, however, has become a favorite of mine and one I do come back to ever so often. If you're into spacious prog with sci-fi themes, I'd recommend this one to you. A great little album, well Worth discovering.

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 Komplet by PETRINA, OTA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
3.35 | 7 ratings

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Komplet
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a compilation album that has both of Ota's studio albums plus some bonus tracks. This was released in 2009 and is a good way to go if you want to check out his music. Ota was a Czech musician trying to express himself during the communist government's rule. Not an easy thing to do. So he offered up melancholic music that expressed his sad mood over the lack of freedom in his country.

As far as the music goes i've reviewed both studio albums but there are three bonus tracks featured here. Two of them were already bonus tracks on the first album but "Marilyn, Good-Bye" is one you won't find anywhere but here. Strummed guitar and vocals lead and then some electric guitar comes and goes in this melancholic offering.

My collection of Czech artists is ever-growing but Ota's music doesn't click with me the way a lot of it does.

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 Pečet by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.81 | 18 ratings

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Pečet
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ota's second and final album sees this Czech musician following the same path as his first record. That melancholic flavour is still strong as he sings in his native language in that Art Rock style.

Again i'll use the English song titles provided on this site. "Hemingway" is the over 15 minute opener and my favourite. It's kind of strange which is maybe why I like it so much. A calm before 5 minutes and i love the atmosphere 9 minutes in. It kicks in at 10 1/2 minutes. "Time" is an interesting song as well. The guitar cries out after 2 1/2 minutes. Nice.

"Departure" becomes intense around a minute including the vocals. This reminds me of FLOYD. "Phalaenopsis" is short with acoustic guitar melodies throughout. "Nettle" is mellow with reserved vocals. Some whistling late. "Envelope" builds to a passionate sound. It settles with flute before 3 1/2 minutes. Atmosphere 6 minutes in then the vocals return. "Son" is ballad-like. Yikes ! Not a fan.

A good album that will no doubt appeal to many.

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 Super Robot by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 22 ratings

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Super Robot
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ota Petrina is a singer-songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist from the Czech Republic. He released two solo albums and this is his first from 1978. The term Art Rock gets thrown around alot when it comes to his music and for me there is a PINK FLOYD vibe that often pops up. The music itself is melancholic and the vocals are in his native language.

"I'm Not Me" is the opener and yes i'm going to use the English titles provided on this site. So much easier. Harmonica to start as a nice heavy but relaxed sound takes over. It turns lighter with acoustic guitar and synths. Vocals after 5 minutes. It kicks back in at 7 1/2 minutes. "Time Of Unsent Letters" is again slower paced with vocals. Kind of spacey too. "If Not For You" has a relaxed beat with vocals as a brief guitar solo checks in after 2 minutes. It's more intense late but i'm not a fan of this one. "So Sing Her Blues" builds in a manner I really like then the vocals join in as it settles. I like the repeated guitar line. This is melancholic as usual.

"Weirdo" is a short acoustic guitar piece with vocals after a minute. "Computer III- Generation" has some cool sounding guitar early and later on. "Super-Robot" is the 11 1/2 minute closer. Strummed guitar as the vocals join in. It turns more delicate before 3 minutes. More of an aggressive vibe 6 minutes in and it all sounds so good a minute later. A calm before 8 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in at 9 minutes. Melancholic vocal melodies end it.

I thought this was a good album but it's not a 4 star record in my world. Certainly worth checking out though.

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 Super Robot by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 22 ratings

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Super Robot
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Ota Petrina is a Czech lyricist,composer,musician and singer.He was born in Male Zernoseky in 1949 and his early music years found him as a guitarist for the group The Golden Kids.Around mid-70's Petrina wrote material for Czech female singer Petra Janu and worked also with C & K Vocal and singer Lubosem Pospisilem.But Petrina's feet were both rooted strongly in the progressive rock field,so in 1978 he released his debut solo album ''Super Robot'' on Supraphon,helped by Vladimir Padrunek on bass,Jan Neckar on keys and Anatoli Kohout on drums.

The 11-min. starter ''Já nejsem já'' is quite an eclectic mix of Space Rock,Psychedelic and Progressive rock.Starts off as a spacey PINK FLOYD-number with harmonica and synths to offer shortly gentle GENESIS-inspired guitar tunes with touches of mellotron till the very end.''Čas neodeslanĂ˝ch dopisu'' follows the same path,orchestrated soft rock with a slow- tempo and expressive vocals.''NebĂ˝t tebe'' is a different story,a standard Blues Rock ballad with no surprises,while ''Tak zazpĂ­vej jĂ­ blues'' is more psych/space-oriented soft rock with good guitar work but again with the familiar singer/songwriter style.The short ''PodivĂ­n'' is like stolen from an early GENESIS album,pastoral Acoustic Music with short orchestration and gentle vocals.''Computer III. Generace'' is more on the heavy side of rock with blues influences and a spacey feeling overall.''Super-Robot'' has a strong space/symphonic vibe with excellent HACKETT-ish hints on guitars and lovely synths,the middle-section with the acoustic guitars and flutes is similar to ''Trespass''-era GENESIS,while the following notes recalls bands like SHYLOCK or PULSAR with heavy spacey content.Definitely a brilliant composition.

The talent of this musician is undenieable,''Super Robot'' is the proof for this fact,as the album is a nice journey into Prog,Psych,Space and Blues rock.However this work lacks in really memorable or stunning material,while the absence of these characteristics (exception the vocals) that make all these East-European bands unique is a negative point too.Nevertheless this obscurity deserves some more attention and I recommended this album for lovers of eclectic blendings.

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 Super Robot by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 22 ratings

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Super Robot
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I heard about this artist and album through my PA colleague and good friend Marty Mcfly. I should say I´m not an eastern europe speciallist in any way. In fact, I´m still beginning in this field. And other than some obvious groups (like Tako and Omega), I rarely heard anything from that part fo the continent. Ota Petrina is a solo performer from Czech Republic and I heard he used to write pop songs for other acts. Super Robot however is much more progressive and has no pop tendencies at all.

I found the album to be very good, with a extremely fine production for the time and place (some remastering here? I don´t know. But the sound is excellent). I really don´t know the political and social implications of this kind of artist and style in Czxechoslovaquia at the time, but living in a country that was still under a military dictatorship in 1978, I can feel some similarities in terms of feeling and mood. Musicly speaking, Super Robot sounds to me like a mix of blues rock, psychedelic and krautrock (specially the vocals) mixed with heavy doses of folk. The guy is obviously a fine slide guitar player.

Although I can hardly say this is symphonic rock, it is still an excellent work. And if you like the aforementioned styles then you should not miss this one. There is no fillers and the album is quite varied and interesting from start to finish (including the two bonus tracks). It is a mostly guitar led album, of course, but there are also some fine keyboards works too in the background (including nice subtle orchestrations). It took me several spins to get used to the vocals (yes, I´m very demanding in that department). but he is not a bad singer. Just different. The musicanship of all involved and Petrina´s songwriting is excellent.

Rating: hard to rate. Personally I´d give this album 3,5 stars (very good overall, but not my favorite type of music) but I´ll round up to four, since I´m taking in consideration the cultural and social importance of this artist and his hard work in a difficult enviroment (to say the least!). Besides, compared to much of the work produced by other bands in 1978, Super Robot is brilliantt!

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 Pečet by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.81 | 18 ratings

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Pečet
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars The follow up to Ota Petřina's "Super Robot" in 1978 was released in their home country of Czechoslovakia in 1983. While not as powerful an experience for this reviewer, the album "Pečet",has a lot to offer any fan of symphonic prog. The Czech art rock band is fronted by the visionary genius of Ota Petřina who sings and plays some innovative guitar. Vladimir Padrůněk continues to impress on this second effort on bass, Jan Neckář's keyboard skills are as incredible as the last release and Anatoli Kohout's drumming is played at an exceptional standard. The one drawback that makes this less powerful than previous is the lack of cohesion in the structural framework, and the short songs that feel like filler material. I was hooked with the "Super Robot" concept and found that all pieces had a seamless thread running through them, but "Pečet" is more of a group of songs that are individualised by distinct styles. Once again Petřina's vocals are at times off balance with the notes of the music, but this makes the songs endearing, the imperfections are compelling.

This album boasts a fantastic opening track that is a mini epic running like a multi movement suite of sections blended into one track, the glorious 'Hemingway'. The lyrics are in Czech, but as was the case with the debut there is something tantalising about Petřina's voice. The vocals have a sad tone and maybe alienating to some listeners but the melancholy mood evoked is intriguing. The sustained synth pads and grand piano slices of Neckář are beautifully executed, at times haunting and at other times uplifting. There is a string quartet that creates a definitive ambience and these light passages are counterbalanced by the dark undertones of distorted guitar splashes. This is the best track on the album, and is perhaps OP's greatest triumph. A wonderful start.

'Čas (Time)' is next and is far more subdued than the epic previously, allowing a sliver of breathing space, from the intricate musicianship. This track is full of heavy rock guitar work that pierces the fabric of classical orchestration.

'Odchod (Departure)' is a fast tempo burst of sound that is dominated by flowing keys and angular guitar riffs but I would have liked this to go on for a few more minutes rather than the next two tracks.

Another 2 minute track, 'Phalaenopsis', follows which is gentle and smooth with acoustic flourishes and slow patient time signatures.

'Kopřiva (Nettle)' is also acoustic with a lovely melody and calm singing to create a warm relaxing mood.

'Obálka (Envelope)' is a 10 minute mini epic with strong keyboard sections that builds gradually to a crescendo. The staccato keyboard motifs are stunning, I feel that Neckář is an underrated keyboard wizard. A plethora of diverse styles are tapped into with classical, symphonic, psychedelica and heavy rock interplay, meticulously orchestrated into a cohesive whole. Once again the band seem to excel more on the lengthy tracks then the shorter pieces. This is the second highlight of the album.

'Syn (Son)' is the album closer, the shortest and acts as an epilogue, but once again it feels half finished as it is so short. In conclusion I think 'Pečet' has some very strong material such as the two lengthy tracks in particular, but there are also a lot of short songs and it seems the band are unaware that their strength lies in instrumental breaks that move in a myriad of directions. Diversity is one thing but this did not hang together as well as the debut. The sadness refected on the album is akin to the times in Czechoslovakia, a time of opression and turmoil, and it is a beautiful thing that this band are able to convey this feeling with two evocative albums. These are fine art rock albums and it is great that these lost gems are gaining some recognition.

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 Super Robot by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 22 ratings

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Super Robot
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars Terrible name for an excellent album

1978 in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe is close to it's ending, but still the pressure over "politically incorrect" music like Rock can be felt, even when breezes of freedom can be felt, the Prague Spring of 1968 is in the memory of people, so this was not the most healthy environment for Prog bands like OTA PRYTINA, but the multi- instrumentalist and his band took the risk and created very advanced music for a country that was musically some years behind the rest of Europe, and they succeeded.

"Super Robot" is released in 1978 and while the iconic bands of UK and USA insist in the old formula of Symphonic Prog that approached them more and more to the end of the first Golden era, OTA PETRINA creates a beautiful blend between Symphonic and their native music, but with a delicacy not common in Prog Folk bands that have a more direct approach, here we listen only echoes of Czech music softly melted into pristine Symphonic.

This blend of Symphonic and Eastern Europe music will be more popular in the 90's, but in the 70's, OTA PETRINA were among the pioneers, so when learned about this band by some samples, asked my local CD's dealer for them, I don't know how (neither will ask), but he had an original copy of "Pečet", on stock and got me a copy of "Super Robot" in less than three days, an album which I will try to review.

As Marty writes in a previous review "Já Nejsem Já" opens the album with a nostalgic mood, probably due to the situation in the country, the bluesy introduction is simply delightful and leads to a "Floydesque" passage that breaks the heart, and from them the song flows gently in an almost Space Rock style. Even when the performance of the band is spectacular, the vocals impressed me a lot, I don't understand a word of Czech, but the energy and anger in the voice tells me enough. Fantastic song.

"Cas Neodeslaných Dopisu" changes the mood from Spacey to melodic and emotional Symphonic with touches of late Psychedelia and Czech ethnic music, the combination is extremely beautiful, and unlike most Prog bands, OTA PETRINA bases the music in the guitar performance of the leader, again the band hits the nail in the head.

"Nebýt Tebe" stats very bluesy again, and the voice of "Petrina" is just perfect for this style, if it wasn't for the language that sounds as Sanskrit to me, I could swear I'm before a New Orleans band, even the guitar solo is perfect for the general atmosphere of the song, not Prog but equally brilliant.

Contrary to what it's name implies, "Tak Zazpívej Jí Blues" (To sing her Blues) is more oriented towards Progressive Rock, but the beauty of the song is in the contrast between the Symphonic Synth and the Blues based guitar, but now the dramatic vocals transport us completely to a Progressive Rock world, with echoes of PINK FLOYD, CAMEL and in general to all the spirit of the 70's.with soft changes and interesting arrangements, the album keeps getting better.

"Podivin" starts with an acoustic guitar reminiscent of Steve Howe, but this time they move towards a Folk atmosphere, being so short, works as an interlude for "Computer III, Generace", a much harder song than everything they played before and changes for the first time the mood of the album, very nice progression from the soft and acoustic interlude to the electric and aggressive song.

The original version of the album ends with "Super Robot", and again I feel the PINK FLOYD influence, being that this track reminds me immensely of "Money", with a bass and drums work very similar to the FLOYD track, not totally original but still very good.

This version of "Super Robot" (Again, what a terrible name for such a soft and nostalgic album) has two bonus tracks, but as usual I will write about the album as the artist released it originally, so even when "Karin" and "Vnitrng Svet Tvých Jantarových Ocí" are as good as the rest of their material, I won't include them in my review.

Now, even when I like "Pečet" more and consider it as more Symphonic, rating "Super Robot" with less than 4 stars would be unfair.

Highly recommended.

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 Super Robot by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 22 ratings

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Super Robot
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by Gandalff

5 stars VERY RARE PEARL ON THE BOTTOM OF BACKWATER OF LATE 70´S!

"Super robot" was maybe my first touch of art rock in my age about 10. Along about that time I was listening hard rock or glam rock bands like Sabbath, Slade, Sweet, Nazareth, Kiss etc. But, as I remember, Petřina´s music totally charmed me then. This record had become my favourite up to this day. It is my blood group, sure!

I own this album in rare vinyl form, with substitute cover. It looks like first rock´n´roll covers in 50´s, with simple prints, basic information about track names or band members and with photo of lonely mixing desk in the studio on the front side.

The music is pure crystallic Symphonic Prog, brilliant instrumentation and vocals are self- evident. I think that´s not usual in Czech Prog music which is rather characterized by inclination to jazz or avantgarde.

Anyway, Ota Petřina is a strange solitaire in the context of Czech music of Communist era. He was always so different and defiant the establishment with his visage: long bushy ginger hair and beard. (By the way, today he looks still same, only his hair and beard are little grey.) He is excellent as a composer for himself or for other interpreters and he had collaborated on many projects which becomes genuine treasures of Czech Prog Rock.

Lyrics (in Czech language) are good, intelligent but sometimes naive in todays context (for example, Computer III. Generation: "In dialect of punch cards he sends his messages/ the shortest which I know/ and what´s next?")... Who knows in 21st century what is the punch card, gosh?!

Summary: 4,5 stars rounded to 5. If you thirst after unexceptionable Eastern European Prog Rock, you must to get "Ota Petřina: Super Robot"!

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 Pečet by PETRINA, OTA album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.81 | 18 ratings

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Pečet
Ota Petrina Symphonic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Second album of Czech musician Ota Petrina is even more rare release than his debut, because it looks it was never re-released on CD till now. I am quite familiar with Eastern European prog scene, but I never heard this name before. After some researches I realised that even in his homec ountry he was a "best kept secret".

Now about music. From the very first sounds everyone familiar with Czechoslovakian music from 70-80-s will understand this artist depends there. It's very characteristic vocals, compositions and common atmosphere. But differently from many more mainstream artists, music on this album is strongly prog influenced.

Very atmospheric sound, filled with flute, acoustic guitar, soulful melodies. And light sadness so characteristic for almost all clever Eastern European music from 70-s and 80-s. Musically, I can hear strong early Genesis influences everywhere - in compositions structure, instrumental sounds, even acoustic guitar solos. Vocals ,even being very specific in it's sounding, is strongly influenced by great Polish musician Czeslaw Niemen.

I spent my teens listening similar music, so this sound is very usual and familiar for me. And it is not music only, more this atmosphere - love to life and disappointment, sadness and melancholy of free person living his life in jail. I hardly can understand Czech lyrics, but in fact I don't need it - I know (by my intuition) what he sings about. We have the same past, living in the land of grey suits and faceless human beings. It's all is in this music, and you don't need to understand language to feel it.

Nice guitar work, dreamy R. Wiedermann strings orchestra's arrangements, Czech bass legend Vladimír Kulhánek on support - great evidence what was Eastern European art-rock in early 80-s.

My rating - 3,5, rounded to 4.

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