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ROSOL

Dunaj

RIO/Avant-Prog


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siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars DUNAJ was formed in 1986 in Brno (now Czech Republic) while the Czech Republic and Slovakia were still the one-unit Czechoslovakia. In the beginning this band collaborated with the avant-garde performer Iva Bittová, a renowned violinist, singer and composer. Her on again, off again relationship with DUNAJ started with the inception of the band and she performed with DUNAJ until 1989. Both artists debuted collaboratively with their debut album "Impuls" which was released under the moniker "IVA BITTOVÁ & DUNAJ" but Bittová was very much an independent artist and went her own way to craft her own musical realities. The debut was an interesting example of the perfect collaborative effort where each artist perfectly melds with the other to create something dynamic that neither could possibly achieve on their own. 
With Bittová leaving the band (at least for a while), DUNAJ forged ahead with its own musical vision of crafting a creepy mix of post-punk angst with the higher artistic visions of avant-prog and the results were the band's first non-collaborative album ROSOL (Czech for "Jelly") which was recorded in 1990 right after the Velvet Revolution and then released the following year when the whole Soviet communism thing was collapsing. ROSOL therefore reflects a unique moment in Czech history and provided the perfect confluence of events to allow DUNAJ to craft one of the best albums ever to emerge from within the borders of the former Czechoslovakia.

Following Bittová's departure, DUNAJ crafted a tighter, harsher and more claustrophobic sound that sat somewhere in between the bleak industrial atmospheres of early Einstürzende Neubauten and the post-punk quirkiness of NoMeansNo especially in the busy, oft-complex bass grooves. DUNAJ was all about an extremely tight rhythm sections that took the nihilistic attitude of punk and propelled it into the high brow art rock zone of avant-prog. The cohesive flow of drummer Pavel Fajt and bassist Vladimír Václavek provided the fundamental canvas for the jangly dual guitar delivers of Jirí Kolsovsky and Jozef Ostransky to engage in spidery, atonal complexities that have gotten he band compared to such acts as Estonia's Ne Zhdali at least in terms of the fusion qualities of mixing avant-prog with more accessible sounds.

For all its dark dreariness, ROSOL never strays too far from energetic punk rock bombast however the heavier outbursts are contrasted with more theatrical and dramatic freak-festivities with angular avant-prog motifs accompanied by the occasional creepy clown laugh or two and while the clear emphasis is on the massive attack of the guitars, bass and drums, keyboards provide bleak atmospheric backdrops that sound like tortured souls weary from the oppressive hand of political uprisings throughout the region. Without Bittová's quirky vocals charisma, the Czech language only lyrical delivery is provided by the low register vox boxes of three male members with the most distinct coming from Jiří Kolsovský's ability to croak out his narrations in a detached yet affirming manner.

ROSOL is considered to be DANUJ's most celebrated moment as the album constructs the perfect middle ground between hypnotic repetitive grooves associated with the post-punk and new wave world of the 80s along with jittery angularities of avant-prog accompanied by bleak industrial atmospheres, dissonant guitar tunings and high energy angst which alternates with slower arpeggiated tracks like the guitar dominated "Cassiniho Dělení ? Cassini Division" or the claustrophobic keyboard terror of "Mazáček ? Pet Child." ROSOL is one of those albums that reflects a very intense moment in history and perfectly translates those emotions through the sheer power of sound despite the fact it is sung entirely in a foreign language. This album is considered to be a blueprint for the entire Czech avant-garde art rock scene to follow and it's apparent only after a single listen why this album has earned its reputation. For anyone wanting a more prog infused version of punk music in the same camp as Cardiacs or NoMeansNo only darker, then DUNAJ is a band you simply must experience.

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Posted Friday, March 27, 2020 | Review Permalink

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