New Releases to Make You Take Note of Lithuanian Music

Here’s a great suggestion for a souvenir to bring home from Lithuania: not some made-to-look-authentic touristy trinket, but one of the new releases in the Note Lithuania series (or all of them if you have a versatile musical taste), especially if you are in the music industry and into the emerging musical scenes. By putting all three new releases – Folk (CD+DVD), Jazz (CD+DVD) and Pop/Rock/Electronica (CD) – together, you will have a vivid and fairly representative musical picture of a country increasingly confident in (and proud of) its distinctive identity.

The folk music sampler showcases a colourful scene: from ritual pagan folk collective Kūlgrinda to folk-pop duo Rasa & Jonas, encompassing reconstructed traditionals from various Lithuanian regions sung by Marytė Arasimavičienė, Evaldas Vyčinas, Visi, Rugiaveidė, Trys keturiose and Veronika Povilionienė; village dance music by Griežikai; the somber neofolk by Donis and Liberté; Oriental-tinged meditative post-folk by Keisto folkloro grupė, Lyla, Tylos Labanoro and Algirdas Klova’s band; inventive folk-rock by Atalyja and Žalvarinis; folk-jazz by Sutaras & Dainius Pulauskas Group; and eclectic ‘ethnotronica’ of Sutartinės Party. The advantages offered by the digital format are fully made use of, with the accompanying DVD titled Living Tradition, containing comprehensive information (texts, video and audio samples) on the folk music traditions of Lithuania’s five ethnocultural regions (presented by ethnomusicologist Daiva Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė) and today’s folk music scene. Included are also the contacts of related state institutions, independent labels and festivals – a sure bonus for industry professionals.

The Jazz issue comes in the same extended format, offering a brief overview of the Lithuanian jazz, as seen by experienced musicologist Jūratė Kučinskaitė, and information on a whole throng of performers, accompanied by equally numerous video samples. The CD part presents contemporary Lithuanian jazz scene in all its variety. The disc begins appropriately with a cinematic and hypnotic, slightly psychedelic piece by experimentalist Juozas Milašius, followed by the mutant Afrobeat of Saga, a dream team of young alternative-minded explorers. The rest of the CD unveils a number of different streams: the playful, melodic and light jazz of the likes of Egidijus Buožis Quartet and Kęstutis Vaiginis Quartet; the colder, funkier and more spacious fusion of Domas Aleksa & D’Orange and Dainius Pulauskas Group; the New Age-like ambience of Vytautas Labutis & Vytautas Mikeliūnas and Leonid Shinkarenko Jazz 7; the arabesque double bass journey of Eugenijus Kanevičius; the eccentric acid jazz of Dmitry Golovanov and Linas Rimša; the understated nocturnal musical stories of Labutis Jazz Quartet and Jan Maksimowicz & Eugenijus Kanevičius. The CD ends on a rather retro note with a weird electric piece by the Lithuanian Radio and Television Big Band.

The combined forces of some of the most distinct Lithuanian pop, rock and electronica artists are presented in the CD that is, in a way, a much-needed extension of the earlier Pop/Rock release in this series. It’s a perfect option for anyone in search of a concise and balanced representation of Lithuania’s scene for pop music in the widest sense of the term, and it has already stood the test of the MIDEM in 2007. It’s all here: the groovy and sensual jazzy beats of Pieno Lazeriai and Magic Mushrooms; the funky garage of Saulės Kliošas; the urban hiphop and solid reggae assault brought on by G&G Sindikatas and Shidlas; the intelligent dancefloor pop of Jurga and Skamp; the unclassifiable ethno-tinged curiosities by Inculto and Bango Collective; the sun-drenched ska punk of Dr. Green and heated hardcore of Bora; the killer intelligent indie rock of Flamingo; the driving Brit rock of Brainers and Gravel; the glittering electro-rock of Axis; the orchestrated pop-rock of Biplan; the heavyweight stoner sound of Mountainside; the breezy alternative rock of IR; the dark and thumping shoegaze electronica of Fusedmarc; and the theatrical synth-rock of the awakened Antis. All together, these present the listener with an impressive proof of the fact that Lithuanian music is more than just alive and well – it is thriving.

© Jurij Dobriakov

Lithuanian Music Link No. 16