body{ text-shadow: 0px 0px 4px rgba(150, 150, 150, 1); }

13 Nov 2016

Ota Petrina “Super-Robot” 1978 Chechoslovakia Prog Art Rock






Ota Petrina  “Super-Robot” 1978 Chechoslovakia Prog Art Rock
full
Ota Petøina is a Czech art-rock symphonic prog band masterminded by Ota Petøina himself. When he was not involved in prog music, he was involved in contributing to the writing of pop songs for various artists and music for films. The band are renowned for their popular Czechoslovakian album “Super Robot” that was a unique project in 1978 with strong Genesis influences and Pink Floyd atmospherics. The members of the band are virtuoso musicians consisting of bass guitarist, Vladimir Padrùòek, drummer, Anatoli Kohout, and piano, and synthesizer by Jan Neckáø. The leader of the group on vocals, guitar, flute, and harmonica is Ota Petøina, who consistently ensured the band maintained a progressive art rock style. The music is a textured blend of synthesizers and solid guitar riffs. The drumming is jazz influenced at times and there are layers of keyboards. Some songs are acoustically driven and with minimalist piano. Often there is a heavier feel with distorted guitars and faster tempo, but overall the feel of the music is slow paced, and ambient, often with spacey or psychedelic atmospheres. The cover work of the “Super Robot” album cover is a striking design by Petr Foltera. Sung entirely in Czech language, the album fared well in their home country but was not heard of in other parts of the world. 

The followup album was “Peèet” (which means “The Seal”) in 1983, again with Czech lyrics and, though not as popular as “Super Robot”, is still known in prog circles as another solid example of Czech art-rock. It features a mini epic “Hemmingway” that clocks in at 15 minutes. The sound is unmistakably driven by orchestral arrangements, in a similar vein to Yes, but what makes this unique is the sound of Petøina’s voice; a very clean, soft vocal that lends itself to an ambient style. The basslines are distinctive and well executed by Padrùòek. The flute passages are played deftly by Petøina and add a pastoral flavour. The albums were both released on Supraphon Labels on vinyl. Due to the harsh conditions for musicians in Czechoslovakia back then, the albums sound rather like mid and late 70s (respectively) instead of late 70s or early 80s. The band continues to influence Czech prog artists with their unique symphonic brand of prog rock. 

by AtomicCrimsonRush (Scott)…… 

I have had an obsession, sort of, since my teens and that is the fascination for space and space travel in the old Eastern block. Ever since I saw the movie Solaris (1972) in the grip of teenage pompousness, I have been hooked. Sci-fi seems to have grown as strong, if not stronger, over there as in the rest of the World. Pink Floyd had their space-groove going on, Hawkwind as well. And that’s all fine but the music of Eastern Europe was booming, at least it would seem so. One of THE premier albums with a sci-fi theme is Solaris Marsbeli kronikak, which is a beautiful album revolving around a sci-fi theme and spacey prog. Others may be Niemens Ode to Venus or the polish Exodus output. One of the great albums in this genre is Ota Petrinas Super Robot. 
The music on Super Robot is quite gentle and spacious. I get the feel of floating, only occasionally but in an extremely tasteful way, being awaken by sudden outbursts of hard rock(ish) elements. The music resembles the night time sky, really. Imagine looking up at the sky at night when the stars are out and the moon is hidden. Super Robot is the perfect companion to such an event. 

The songs are all gentle but there are exceptions, like “Computer III” which is a very forceful, monotonous (in a good way) track which breaks off the tapestry in a really cool way. The best track, for me, is the title track though. Just the title, “Super Robot”, says it all. I do not understand anything of the lyrics except for Super and Robot but I can make up fantasies about the lyrical content, envisioning the intro to Bladerunner and the future for mankind as it is, however gloomy, portayed in future visions of the world. The track holds great keyboards, vocals and spacy guitar. It all blends together nicely, creating a tapestry of spacious, emotive soundscapes. I’ll tell you, it is majestic and soothing in a marvellous way. 

Comparisons can be made to David Gilmours guitar playing and some elements of Floyd but the album retains it’s own identity and purpose. Petrinas vocals are frail, sometimes bordering on breaking up. It is, however, not a problem. His voice is, rather, a nice complement to the soft and gentle music. Worth mentioning, the flute which sometimes soar through the music brings almost a medieval touch to the whole thing. That makes the album span over decades, centuries almost, but Always heading for the future with it’s sci-fi robots and travels through dimensions. 

Czechoslovakia is the country which, besides Poland, seems to have had the most flourishing prog scene of the Eastern block. They can boast, for instance, such a tremendous band as Modry Efekt (or Blue Effect), who were able to produce in a Life span of only 10 years, or there about, a string of ever progressing and flawless albums. Ota Petrinas remaining output, which seems to be rather manageable to get acquainted with, I cannot say much about. The album Super Robot, however, has become a favorite of mine and one I do come back to ever so often. If you’re into spacious prog with sci-fi themes, I’d recommend this one to you. A great little album, well Worth discovering…..by…by GruvanDahlman……… 

I heard about this artist and album through my PA colleague and good friend Marty Mcfly. I should say I´m not an eastern europe speciallist in any way. In fact, I´m still beginning in this field. And other than some obvious groups (like Tako and Omega), I rarely heard anything from that part fo the continent. Ota Petrina is a solo performer from Czech Republic and I heard he used to write pop songs for other acts. Super Robot however is much more progressive and has no pop tendencies at all. 
I found the album to be very good, with a extremely fine production for the time and place (some remastering here? I don´t know. But the sound is excellent). I really don´t know the political and social implications of this kind of artist and style in Czxechoslovaquia at the time, but living in a country that was still under a military dictatorship in 1978, I can feel some similarities in terms of feeling and mood. Musicly speaking, Super Robot sounds to me like a mix of blues rock, psychedelic and krautrock (specially the vocals) mixed with heavy doses of folk. The guy is obviously a fine slide guitar player. 

Although I can hardly say this is symphonic rock, it is still an excellent work. And if you like the aforementioned styles then you should not miss this one. There is no fillers and the album is quite varied and interesting from start to finish (including the two bonus tracks). It is a mostly guitar led album, of course, but there are also some fine keyboards works too in the background (including nice subtle orchestrations). It took me several spins to get used to the vocals (yes, I´m very demanding in that department). but he is not a bad singer. Just different. The musicanship of all involved and Petrina´s songwriting is excellent. 

Rating: hard to rate. Personally I´d give this album 3,5 stars (very good overall, but not my favorite type of music) but I´ll round up to four, since I´m taking in consideration the cultural and social importance of this artist and his hard work in a difficult enviroment (to say the least!). Besides, compared to much of the work produced by other bands in 1978, Super Robot is brilliantt!….. by Tarcisio Moura……. 

Terrible name for an excellent album 
1978 in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe is close to it’s ending, but still the pressure over “politically incorrect” music like Rock can be felt, even when breezes of freedom can be felt, the Prague Spring of 1968 is in the memory of people, so this was not the most healthy environment for Prog bands like OTA PRYTINA, but the multi- instrumentalist and his band took the risk and created very advanced music for a country that was musically some years behind the rest of Europe, and they succeeded. 

“Super Robot” is released in 1978 and while the iconic bands of UK and USA insist in the old formula of Symphonic Prog that approached them more and more to the end of the first Golden era, OTA PETRINA creates a beautiful blend between Symphonic and their native music, but with a delicacy not common in Prog Folk bands that have a more direct approach, here we listen only echoes of Czech music softly melted into pristine Symphonic. 

This blend of Symphonic and Eastern Europe music will be more popular in the 90’s, but in the 70’s, OTA PETRINA were among the pioneers, so when learned about this band by some samples, asked my local CD’s dealer for them, I don’t know how (neither will ask), but he had an original copy of “Pečet”, on stock and got me a copy of “Super Robot” in less than three days, an album which I will try to review. 

As Marty writes in a previous review “Já Nejsem Já” opens the album with a nostalgic mood, probably due to the situation in the country, the bluesy introduction is simply delightful and leads to a “Floydesque” passage that breaks the heart, and from them the song flows gently in an almost Space Rock style. Even when the performance of the band is spectacular, the vocals impressed me a lot, I don’t understand a word of Czech, but the energy and anger in the voice tells me enough. Fantastic song. 

“Cas Neodeslaných Dopisu” changes the mood from Spacey to melodic and emotional Symphonic with touches of late Psychedelia and Czech ethnic music, the combination is extremely beautiful, and unlike most Prog bands, OTA PETRINA bases the music in the guitar performance of the leader, again the band hits the nail in the head. 

“Nebýt Tebe” stats very bluesy again, and the voice of “Petrina” is just perfect for this style, if it wasn’t for the language that sounds as Sanskrit to me, I could swear I’m before a New Orleans band, even the guitar solo is perfect for the general atmosphere of the song, not Prog but equally brilliant. 

Contrary to what it’s name implies, “Tak Zazpívej Jí Blues” (To sing her Blues) is more oriented towards Progressive Rock, but the beauty of the song is in the contrast between the Symphonic Synth and the Blues based guitar, but now the dramatic vocals transport us completely to a Progressive Rock world, with echoes of PINK FLOYD, CAMEL and in general to all the spirit of the 70’s.with soft changes and interesting arrangements, the album keeps getting better. 

“Podivin” starts with an acoustic guitar reminiscent of Steve Howe, but this time they move towards a Folk atmosphere, being so short, works as an interlude for “Computer III, Generace”, a much harder song than everything they played before and changes for the first time the mood of the album, very nice progression from the soft and acoustic interlude to the electric and aggressive song. 

The original version of the album ends with “Super Robot”, and again I feel the PINK FLOYD influence, being that this track reminds me immensely of “Money”, with a bass and drums work very similar to the FLOYD track, not totally original but still very good. 

This version of “Super Robot” (Again, what a terrible name for such a soft and nostalgic album) has two bonus tracks, but as usual I will write about the album as the artist released it originally, so even when “Karin” and “Vnitrng Svet Tvých Jantarových Ocí” are as good as the rest of their material, I won’t include them in my review. 

Now, even when I like “Pečet” more and consider it as more Symphonic, rating “Super Robot” with less than 4 stars would be unfair. 

Highly recommended…….. by Ivan_Melgar_M ……… 

“Super robot” was maybe my first touch of art rock in my age about 10. Along about that time I was listening hard rock or glam rock bands like Sabbath, Slade, Sweet, Nazareth, Kiss etc. But, as I remember, Petřina´s music totally charmed me then. This record had become my favourite up to this day. It is my blood group, sure! 

I own this album in rare vinyl form, with substitute cover. It looks like first rock´n´roll covers in 50´s, with simple prints, basic information about track names or band members and with photo of lonely mixing desk in the studio on the front side. 

The music is pure crystallic Symphonic Prog, brilliant instrumentation and vocals are self- evident. I think that´s not usual in Czech Prog music which is rather characterized by inclination to jazz or avantgarde. 

Anyway, Ota Petřina is a strange solitaire in the context of Czech music of Communist era. He was always so different and defiant the establishment with his visage: long bushy ginger hair and beard. (By the way, today he looks still same, only his hair and beard are little grey.) He is excellent as a composer for himself or for other interpreters and he had collaborated on many projects which becomes genuine treasures of Czech Prog Rock. 

Lyrics (in Czech language) are good, intelligent but sometimes naive in todays context (for example, Computer III. Generation: “In dialect of punch cards he sends his messages/ the shortest which I know/ and what´s next?”)… Who knows in 21st century what is the punch card, gosh?! 

Summary: 4,5 stars rounded to 5. If you thirst after unexceptionable Eastern European Prog Rock, you must to get “Ota Petřina: Super Robot”!…… by Gandalff…….. 

Line- Up 

- Ota Petřina / vocals, guitar, flute, harmonica 
- Vladimir Padrůněk / bass 
- Jan Neckář / piano, synthesizer (1-7) 
- Anatoli Kohout / drums 

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Já nejsem já (I’m Not Me) (10:42) 
2. Čas neodeslaných dopisů (Time of Unsent Letters) (4:41) 
3. Nebýt tebe (If Not For You) (5:42) 
4. Tak zazpívej jí blues (So Sing Her Blues) (3:44) 
5. Podivín (Weirdo) (1:54) 
6. Computer III. Generace (Computer III. Generation) (4:50) 
7. Super Robot (11:34) 
Bonus: 
8. Karin (5:08) 
9. Vnitřní svět tvých jantarových očí (The Inner World of your Amber Eyes) (4:31)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..