If I might be permitted a touch of hyperbole… The world is chaos. Entropy and self-sabotage combine to poison our souls. And Národni Divadlo (National Theatre: Google Translate) have produced the soundtrack. Acoustic sounds contaminated and made ragged by distortion.

Steel guitar strings whine, buzz and rattle – the overdriven vibrations are reminiscent of a raw, Link Wray tone that stutters and jitters, staggering forcefully from one ear to the other. Hyperactive drums clatter incessantly, constructing a series of filigreed exoskeletons. The bass is warm and seductively blurred; a murky, pulsing landscape, flexing, elastic.

For all the direct impact, Antropocén is subtle of detail… the bass riff on “Stožáry vysokého napětí” is a tiny grain around which layers accrete. The extended intro to “Z jakého dřeva jsou ostrévky”, the calm before the collapse. The almost metronomic bassline a minute and a half into “Pravý hák Arthura Cravana” that shifts the ensemble into a higher gear just as the road surface becomes untenable…

Národni Divadlo are a tantalisingly unique improvising trio that have somehow created a call to arms that also works nicely as a fuck you – entirely dependent on where you stand – and either way, I’m bloody loving it. The sounds are edgy, nervous, continuously probing, skittering, skating, maintaining the perpendicular on a frictionless surface but only just. Chaos and excess ebb and flow. Natural cycles of change are fractured, interrupted. A sense of imminent-but-never-quite collapse looms. Sonic tightrope stuff.

A passionate yell into the void, with a careful ear open to echoes, reverberation and feedback…

Vítr v remízkách, kde ptáci
Za dobou středník
Z jakého dřeva jsou ostrévky
Pravý hák Arthura Cravana
Torza mostů
Stožáry vysokého napětí
Archeologie (Josefu Bláhovi)
Skleněná louka
Rýhy v březích
Šipky k rozvalínám města UR

Stoned to Death Records

Marek Tragan – acoustic guitar
Lukáš Fojtík – drums
Jiří Štěpán – bass

Antropocén is available on cassette and download from the Stoned to Death Bandcamp page.

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