Various Artists – Lithuanian Sound Art
A compilation which serves as an introduction to the state of modern sound art in Lithuania.
On the back cover there is a good detailed description of the „sound art“ term; „[Sound art] was born as an opposition to the traditional universally understandable notion of music“. It‘s a music genre that is and will never be publicly acceptable, but yet we hear it everywhere and many of the times we don‘t even notice it. I can by no means consider myself any expert in the field of sound art, so what you get is the lay mans view – not an academically educated review. So … let‘s give it a listen.
The first track by Andrius Rugys brings us to the Green lakes near Vilnius and morphs into a Lithuanian folk song about a duck swimming across the lake. It‘s meditative and relaxing. The field recording is top notch and the listener is positioned on a peaceful pier observing mysterious sirens. Nice start.
Antanas Dombrovskij breaks the peace with his NNN broken jazz. Paranoid samples make the listener feel disoriented and confused. Music is not always meant to make us feel fuzzy and pleasant.
udio_Z, a project of Tautvydas Bajarkevicius, offers the listener an excerpt from his work Bits pieces and so far beyond. The piece is haunting, yet atmospheric. The broken chimes fluctuate in and out of pitch with covers of white noises. In the second half of the track a guitar is introduced. It starts out confused and disorganized, yet unfolds itself as the guitar ends in harmony with all the sounds around it.
Vytautas V. Jurgitis starts with the high frequencies in his track Hi-fi. The whole wave spectrum gets to join in as well as the work progresses. The work is highly technical and requires patience, but for the patient ones there is reward.
The academically-trained violinist Line Lapelyté offers a live excerpt from her work Par. It‘s a sound scape piece with violin, electronics and environmental sound recordings. It‘s a framework for improvisation rather than a finished composition. Its frantic and chaotic. The violin is used in an inventive way to create a sense of turmoil. The chaos develops into a high-frequency „calmness“ and leaves the listeners unease.
The composer and sound artist Arturas Bumsteinas does a nice attempt in calming things down with his work We watch TV. This personal favourite of the compilation offers a beautiful sound scape alongside a haunting duo vocalists – who sound a tad like Einsturzende Neubauten in the best way possible. This work is a part of the Sleep (an attempt of trying) which was commissioned by the Deutschland Radio Kultur broadcasting service and the idea of it is that it takes the form of a late night radio show for those who suffer insomnia. Beautiful!
Grainy textures, sonic structure and melodic ambiance symbolize the epic Blind Man Tales by Gintas K. This piece is calming and impressive in many ways. It received the 2nd price in an international sound art contest, held in Spain 2010. If this got 2nd, then how godly must the 1st place sound!
The veteran Antanas Jesenka takes the listener to a dark state of mind, though with a powerful message: „While you live, shine. Don´t suffer anything at all; life exists only a short while. And time demands its toll“. It‘s a hard piece which tests your patience, but still has this extra something that makes it worthwhile.
The sound artist and architect Tomas Grunskis works under the pseudonym ad_0 S and has been developing the concept of audio recycling, the use of sonic structure as a mental information. He takes an 4 second unlistenable sonic structure and transfers it into an audio track. The arrangement is quite minimal and effective. The work, which spans almost 10 minutes gradually evolves from a simple tone into a thumping heartbeat of a machine.
The project SALA has been an active for 20 years already and offer us their minimalistic piece Fermentacija. It‘s less than 2 minutes long and is recorded using contact microphones. Very calming end to a emotional ride into all aspects of Lithuanian sound art scene.
The main purpose of the compilation was to introduce current situation of sound art in Lithuania and it‘s safe to say that it sounds like its in a healthy state at the moment. With its variations and delightful experimentations it will hopefully keep evolving. As pointed earlier, i‘m stepping into this scene without prior knowledge so I don‘t have many other sound art scenes to compare to. I would still presume its a good thing if a lay man, such as myself, can listen through entire compilation and feel refreshed and pleased with given it my time and thought. I started with a hint of prejudice toward the sound art genre, but now I believe i‘m with open mind toward it. That‘s a good thing, right?