Now something of a legend among true aficionados of arty rock, Czechoslovakia’s Plastic People of the Universe were born in 1968 during that fleeting moment of glasnost-before-its-time known as the Prague Spring. Despite jailings, police beatings, periodic confiscations of their gear, and other assorted indignities, they’ve been punching away ever since. Though their name and appearance might suggest a bunch of aging Hawkwind wannabes making aimless space noise, the Plastic People–to judge from the tapes I’ve heard–actually play impressively rich music arranged with mature, clearheaded discipline. Strings and woodwinds give this stuff a beguiling timbral novelty, and it really soars; some passages remind me vaguely of Henry Cow or early Gong. I can’t understand what the singer is screaming in Czech, but I bet he has good reason to be angry. A note of interest: after much reshuffling of their American tour schedule, it turns out that the Plastic People’s Chicago gig will be their first in the West. Saturday, 10 PM and midnight, Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont; 281-8788 or 667-1469.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Helena Wilson.