It IS challenging to be a musician these days. Illegal downloading combined with worldwide recession make a prospect of taking up that plumbing course suddenly appear quite appealing. In New York, Amsterdam or Siberia, music artists (especially those who can’t brag about international recognition) are struggling to survive – and we’re surely not the first ones you’re hearing this from.
Some things must be explained. Celebrating 20 years of re-gained independence in 2010, Lithuania might still be considered a freshman in music business. 3,5 million inhabitants is not exactly a number that allows for huge tours, limousines and fancy lifestyle – especially for the those who try hard to create interesting music and do not compromise their art by trying to adhere to the pop cliches.
What could be seen as a drawback is, in fact, a blessing in these difficult times. For crisis did not change life of these musicians in a major way. Artists featured on Note Lithuania are still writing and performing first and foremost because they are passionate about it – you certainly won’t hear them complaining about dwindling sales or ticket revenues as those numbers were never stratospheric anyway.
What members of Lithuanian popular music community still lack in terms of international career, they surely make up for by creating fresh and captivating sounds. Eager to hear it for yourself? May we suggest you give Note Lithuania compilations a spin. Two 2009 editions are now readily available, featuring versatile selection of songs from some of Lithuania’s most interesting performers – along liner notes and contact details.
An overview of what sonic delights Lithuania’s pop, rock and electronic music artists came up with during last 24 months, these two compilations often feature young talent – jazzy weirdness of outlandish pixie migloko•, melancholic cabaret musings of Alina Orlova (already a favourite of Moscow’s hipsters), stylish jazz-pop of 2Good, artful pop irony of Suicide DJs (rightfully chosen as a support band by kings of the genre Sparks), electronic trickery of GeraiGerai & Miss Sheep or atmospheric sounds of Sigur Ros’ disciples Confident. Out of four times MTV Europe gave out a Best Baltic Act award, Lithuanians snatched it three times in a row. All three winners – boundary-breaking pop singer Jurga, specialists in disco anthems Happyendless and electronic music producer Leon Somov with vocalist Jazzu – are featured on both recent volumes of Note Lithuania.
If rock is your poison you’ll probably appreciate the funky energy of Freaks On Floor, grungy riffs of IR, straightforward guitar-fest of long-standing gothic rock institution Siela. For those who like a calmer, more introspective kind of guitar pop – dreamy ballad from melodic rockers Biplan, folk influenced songwriting of Aistė Smilgevičiūtė and Skylė, sweet vocals of Živilė Ba could provide an impulse to investigate these artists’ catalogue more thoroughly.
For fans of electronic music, Note Lithuania compilations offer plenty of surprises to dig their teeth into. Uber-producers of soulful house Mario Basanov & Vidis are represented on both editions of the CD, so is triphop band Make It Real Project, purveyors of dark psychedelic electronica Fusedmarc and Empti – a recently re-activated duo that makes quite possibly the most stylish electronic pop music in the country. Milky Lasers (discovered by famous German band De Phazz and signed by their Phazz-a-delic label) add some electro-jazz-pop that wouldn’t sound out of place at trendy Berlin disco, while producer Kondencuotas Pienas provides a skillful exercise in lounge. International project Rasa Basom that revolves around former TV reality contest winner Rasa Bubulytė proves that she didn’t take studies at Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts for granted – theirs is a truly cosmopolitan blend of various music styles.
Slight influence of triphop greats can be noticed listening to AVaspo, dub lovers should check out music of Dublicate, and an expanding army of inventive studio boffins capable of creating infectious beats is represented by the likes of IJO, Genys and New Airplanes. Last but not least, for a good dancefloor option check out electronic gems by laptop wizard Golden Parazyth and Metal On Metal – a hedonistic DJ trio in janitor costumes that secured a support gig with Lenny Kravitz despite performing music that couldn’t be more different from his kind of rock pastiche.
Covering a wide scope of music styles, Note Lithuania will give you a quick glance at some artists whose recordings, should you choose to dig deeper, will provide hours of aural enjoyment. So give this music a listen and, if you enjoy it, spread the word.
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Lithuanian Music Link No. 17