Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Toyen (the band)

I've known for quite some time that there was a Czech band named after Toyen, but it was no longer recording while I was living in Prague, so I never ran across any of the group's albums.
The band has a MySpace page, however, so I've finally had a chance to find out what they sound like. While I'd hardly say they are the musical equivalent of Toyen's art, they're quite listenable.
According to the MySpace page, they began in fall 1988 in Prague, but were officially founded in March 1989. Audiences and critics were apparently looking forward to their debut, because most of the band had been in "the legendary band Letadlo" [Airplane], which was suppressed by the Communist regime in the early 1980s. According to the MySpace page,
"The band TOYEN were in the right time on the right place. The guys had good infos from the world, good timing –after „Velvet revolution“ and the main-good songs,image and they have own material with Czech lyrics, but they could sing the songs in English and it was very important for their future."
In fact, the band toured in the US, including a concert at CBGB's, and also in the UK and Austria. At one point they apparently were opening for Depeche Mode. However, before long Toyen experienced some changes in personnel and did not last long despite its success at home and abroad.
I like the idea of a band named after a surrealist, but I think I'd have preferred the group to have borne a closer resemblance to the artist. Then again, I don't think we can exactly say the Manchester band Durutti Column is all that similar to the anarchist anti-Franco contingent that fought in the Spanish Civil War under Buenaventura Durruti, either.

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