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coverpic flag Czech Republic - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 12 - 10/16/97

Buty
Rastakayakwanna
BMG Ariola

Stylistically, this band falls half way between the other leading Czech groups. YoYo Band or Zluty Pes on one hand feature what essentially amounts to stories set to music, while Sum Svistu on the other is known for their very dancable grooves that are often accompanied by utterly nonsensical 'lyrics'. Voted 'The Newcomer of the Year' in 1995 in the Czech Grammy Awards, and 'The Group of the Year' last year, Buty consists of six musicians led by Radek Pastrnak; Rastakayakwanna is their current release.

After the new-age piano noodlings by Milan Nitra Lanovka (Cable Car) and after Pastrnak's Trumpeta (Trumpet) which features a soprano saxophone, things turn definitely odd on the next cut, Cesta byla sucha (The Road Was Dry). The song sports a country sound complete with steel guitars, fiddle, harmonica and a tinkly piano and the following lyrics:

The road was dry, occasionally wet,
The visibility was pretty good.
They grew wheat on steep mountains,
they played golf in their spare time.
Your eyes are like two Forget-Me-Not in the grass,
Ran over by a steam roller.

This is followed by Az ja budu svaty, a typical Moravian folk melody with 'When I become a saint, I'll pee on the top of clouds' and by Krtek (Mole):

A baby mole was born
And while nursing
He swallowed some dirt.
He wanted to look at it
When he coughed it up.

'You'll never be able to see,'
his mother told him.

Brutwanna is a dadaistic collection of syllables strung together by passionate singing and supported by careening, swirling and percolating electric guitar sounds. But unlike Sum Svistu's similar efforts, nothing is cold or mechanical here. Occasionally, even a real Czech word pops out. (Does 'Yakwanna' really mean jak vana - 'like a bathtub'? Only Radek Pastrnak knows...)

Do Ruska (To Russia) is a simple Klezmer ditty ("To Russia, you should go, to Russia... It is like Germany - I'm afraid..."), Mucha jde ("A green fly is marching up your leg") and Tady mas ("Here's butter, here's jam. Here's a knife - just don't cut yourself; I hate funerals") are some other examples of Buty's typical mixture of singable pop and skewed lyrics. And this recipe is not limited to Pastrnak's songs only. Just listen to Andrei Toader's Lednacek (Kingfisher):

By the river, under the tree,
Where we used to sit,
All that's left is a pile of
flavored-out chewing gum.

A kingfisher above it
Sits on a branch.
He can't sing -
his beak is stuck shut.

Unfortunately, to a non-native listener, many of the hilarious musical and verbal references on this album are lost and what remains is just some well played, somewhat odd folk/pop music...

BTW, special recognition should also go to Roman Chvila and Olga Ciastonova for their inventive booklet illustrations.

Copyright © 1997 Ivan Sever e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Buty articles/reviews: Drevo, Kapradí.

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