Ty Sycáci

SSSS...

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SSSS... means "Samota, Sláva, Smrt, a Spása" or "Solitude, Glory, Death, Salvation," the four stages of a rock star's life according to Ty Sycáci's leader, Petr Vása. He is responsible for the libretto of this impressive avant-folk opera -- using the term loosely. The double-CD set contains two hours of music split into four 30-minute suites, the four acts. Vása is a word magician. He approaches language like a child learning to talk. Word plays and poetic assonances and images are woven so thickly into the discourse that it takes surreal proportions and multiple poetic directions. Puzzling for native Czech speakers, it becomes almost undecipherable for others. Despite the fact that most listeners miss an important dimension of this work (or any other Ty Sycáci album, for that matter), there is enough left to satisfy the curious listener. Once again, sound is of acute importance to Vása. One can just focus on the circumvoluting phonetic transformations of a sentence (the opening "Samson" makes a fantastic example, verging on sound poetry). And the music by itself makes SSSS... an essential to enthusiasts of quirky Czech songwriting. As usual, Vása (who also plays acoustic guitar) is backed by ex-Pluto members Petr Zavadil (guitars) and Thomas Frölich (bass, stick). The arrangements focus on acoustic guitars and bass, vocal interplays, and sparse percussion performed by the trio, often while continuing to play their instruments. Vása also uses a lot of body percussion (from basic handclaps to chest- and face-hitting). The word-heavy content can feel overwhelming at times (try listening to each act separately), but after a few listens the music opens up, revealing its delights. Maybe the scope of this album lets a bit of pretension stick out, but it represents a peak in Vása's career. The packaging includes a lavish libretto of 102 pages. Recommended to fans of Iva Bittová, Slede, Zivé Slede, and, of course, Pluto.

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