Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Below, some examples of Marian Varga's work, back when he was part of the Czech group Collegium Musucum (note the long hair, on the left, circa 1977) and then when he was a solo artist, guesting with orchestras (at right, circa 2006).

The Internet is supposed to bring us together and expose us to new and interesting cultures. Yet, American and English artists dominate blogs and torrents. Today people are mourning Glen Campbell and Barbara Cook, more than Marian Varga. Not only don't many know who he is, they don't even want to know. English speaking artists are hipper, right? Even, in this case, ones who are pure instrumentalists. Keith Emerson, yes. Marian Varga, who?

An irony is that a lot of torrent owners are in Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, etc., where they make their money giving away American music. Likewise, the bloggers most intent on being "famous" for giving away music are in Sweden, Holland, Germany, Croatia, etc. and wouldn't make money off banner ads if they stuck to their own country's artists. But you'd think that once in a while they'd at least promote a few. After all, these hypocrites CLAIM that they are giving away music for the LOVE of it. They don't LOVE their own country's music?

Anybody really need some cabbage-head giving away every Beach Boys album? You know what they sound like. If you want their stuff, buy it. If it's not worth buying, fuck off. Isn't it a little more valuable to hip people to artists that actually could use some exposure via a free song give-away? 

Sadly, a lot of pinheads only want fame. It's not about "supporting the artist" at all. It's saying, "Hey, I'm cool, I'm giving you every Jethro Tull album," not, "I have pride in my native music" or "Here's something that may stimulate and enrich you, without make me seem like a hipster when I'm some retired turnip living in a converted stable ten miles from a sex partner that doesn't bleat and give milk."

Anyone from the vakias or vinias or atias talking about Marian Varga today?  Nah, they're talking about Glen Campbell and wearing a cowboy hat and posting, "Here is all his music in a RAR file. I am so sad today, RIP to a Great American like ME. I will drink me a beer and say ADIOS, pardner." 

Below, a musical sample of Mr. Varga (January 29, 1947-August 8, 2017). Your chunk of "Racte Vstupit" betrays the influence of the avant garde classical musicians including Stravinsky, as filtered through the sensibilities of a guy who probably also grew up listening to Frank Zappa and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The result is two amusing minutes of keyboard burps and whirps with an added rock beat. 

A rock drummer accompanies Varga to his classical concert where he offered "Hommage a J.S. Bach." As you've come to expect from things like this, the result is the same kind of faux-classical rock that you find here and there on a Curved Air album, a moment from Yes or even Jethro Dull. Classical music goes on too long, and has too many quiet moments and not enough beat? Varga will fix! 

Esoteric vinyl fans may have heard of Prudy,  the band Varga joined after more than enough study of classical music. They put out one well-remembered (in Czechoslovakia, anyway) album. He then formed Collegium Musicum, which may not have been as pretentious a name as Boko Harum, but got enough attention in Czechoslovakia to be widely considered the country's first serious, successful art-rock group.  They put out seven albums in the 70's. He also worked with Pavol Hammel (no relation to Pete Hammel, who spells his last name quite differently, come to think of it) both during the Collegium Musicum years, and in the late 80's and early 90's. His last albums were released in 2003 and 2006.

It's a bit pathetic that foreign music, whether instrumental or with lyrics, gets so little attention. A common excuse is "Why listen to Ultima Spiaggi when you can't understand the words?" Er, for the same reason you listen to Italian opera?? Another is, "But Mylene Farmer sings in French. Who knows what she's saying." This, from people who go to a Bob Dylan concert. PS, you want to explain what "the sun's not yellow, it's chicken" means? Mylene's symbolism doesn't get more obscure than that. 

Hommage a J. S. Bach 
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Rev Watt said...
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Rev Watt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev Watt said...

Just discovered your website, appreciate the info and the snark even though I don't always agree (can you write or sing as well as Ian Anderson?) with the latter. Quick point: your quoted Dylan line about the sun's not obscure, it's Dada, and pretty clearly mocking the plain absurdity of some parts of that book starring the hero of that particular Dylan verse... Says me.
(PS. Yellow and Chicken are both slang terms for cowardice; is that yet another bit of trivia known only to us geezers?)
(PPS. Deletion's the only way to edit after posting.)
(PPPS. Bono.)

Ill Folks said...

Thanks, thanks.

Yes, "yellow" and "chicken" are both slang terms for the same thing, but I'm not sure why Bob would call the sun cowardly twice. Just to be emphatic?

That's a rhetorical question, like "can you write or sing as well as Ian Anderson?"

Actually the "how dare you write about a singer if you aren't at his level" is similar to whether one is allowed to be a boxing announcer without having boxed, a movie critic without having won an Oscar for Best Actor, or complain about the taste of a beer because you don't own a brewery.

Rev Watt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev Watt said...

There I go again... itchy click-finger...
To be clear, I'd never deny your right as a critic to a differing opinion about Jethro Tull (and I find some later albums like "A" dull indeed). I was just meeting snark with snark. And... um... you surely know you're overthinking the chicken line, so please permit my labored obviocity: 1) it's a gag, deliberately absurd on its face, and "not yellow but chicken" is what makes it (I think) hilarious... 2) an author's characters don't always reflect the author's thoughts. That's a faddish non-thought going around (like a disease), but... no. Not all writing is confessional, subconsciously or otherwise. If you disagree, I'd be interested. Whatever. Bono.