THE BALTIC SCENE

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We cover Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian music that sounds right to us

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The initial idea for this paper was to write a review of the Ritmo Kovos III compilation, which was released on the 7th of December 2012 by the infamous Renegades of Bump crew. The free online compilation of the most interesting beatmakers within Lithuania is an excellent showcase of the Lithuanian beatmakers scene. Compiling tracks for the release took around a year to complete and as noted on the release the compilation is a „testimony of [the] scene getting stronger day-to-day, for as much as verifying ourselves as an independent organization“ 

 It all started with a show. In the spring of 2010 the first Lithuanian beatmakers battle was organized. The prominent beatmaker Fingalick says : “The beat battles that came with the compilation was another phenomenon, as it was a legit proof to the listeners of the beats scene actually being there. People who came to the first party (which was in an underground-dungeon-club) saw the people that competed for the first time, everything - the music, the techniques - were new not only to the listeners, but to most of the artists as well.“ 

Before the battle there were some noteworthy releases, but with the birth of the battle a scene had been born. The Renegades of Bump‘s head poncho Vaiper Despotin says, „before that there were no beatmakers who took the instrumental hip hop and electronic fusion as an independent peace of music“ and continues that musical style was „flavored with some local atmosphere of post-Soviet echoes of rawness and Nordic mellowness at the same time.“ Now Lithuanian beatmakers were rapidly evolving into a force to be reckoned with.  

It has come a long way the last couple years. The artists have been mastering their own sound and skills and the parties influenced the way the scene has evolved. The support from the MondayJazz crew was an important push for the scene. They offered opportunities for young artists to step up and perform. New artists started to emerge and the scene continued growing.  The Ritma Kovos dalis 2 compilation was released on the 11th of January 2011 and with that came the second beat battle. „[I]t was all bigger, better organized, more advanced. We used the biggest alternative music festival in Lithuania, again, organized by the Club Satta, as a medium for stuffing peoples’ minds with good music, bringing top notch artists and organizing the said beat battles. By the time the third beat battle came, the scene was so different from where it started, you couldn’t even recognize it. Guys who started from broken beats and hip hop were now producing UK funky, bass and footwork music“, says beatmaker Fingalick. The second compilation was a raving success. 

The variety of the beat scene is quite astonishing and foreign media is starting to take notice. „Now the foreign artists that come here leave amazed how well the parties are organized and how sick they are to play in. We experienced a complete revamp, but we became so much more“ says Fingalick and continues: „If we continue at these tempos, we are going to have big big things already in 2013. I mean, come on, the current average age of the producers is probably 18 years old ! We have all the time in the world, and all of the motivation.“

Grab the highly recommended Ritmo Kovos III compilation free of charge from their Bandcamp page

-Jonas

I thinks its time to write about yet another young wonderboy from Estonia - his name is Andreas Kask or simply Kask and for few years now he has been producing awesome sounding house tracks. About a year ago he was named as one of the “future stars” in Estonia to keep your eye on and in spring 2012 he was one of the headliners at Tallinn Music Week. He is also one of the guys behind popular JÄCK parties in Estonia, but my personal favourites have been seeing/hearing him doing live performances at a local record store BiiT. I hope his tracks get released on vinyl soon as well, until then you can check out his beats on his Soundcloud page.

- Hanna-Stella

Berlin-based cool record label Project Mooncircle has recently signed Darius Vaikas, a Lithuanian producer, and released his “You’ll Never Be Alone” on a limited 7” celebrating the 10 years anniversary of hhv.de. Congratulations to Darius from The Baltic Scene for this as well!

- Hanna-Stella

Colours of Bubbles (LT) combine optimistic indie melodies with maturer country sounds . Their clear vision and sense about the music they want to produce brought them the honor to get the desired price of best Lithuanian rock band earlier in 2012. Now The Colours of Bubbles are enjoying an consistent increase of followers - a good example for this is the annual party for their closest fans which already for years has been held in their rehearsal space,but no longer! The local rockheros are moving the party to a real rock venue this year - POGO, in Siauliai - the small town the grew up!
"Cut it out" is their single telling the story of daring young love, built up on sharp guitar riffs and being personalized with accordion tunes. 
This crispy and cool video balances perfectly the hotblooded nature of the band and fiery message of the song!

-Natalie 

Mario Basanov (LT) is one of the handful of musicians from Lithuania who has established himself internationally in the dancescene.  His collaboration with fellow Lithuanian Vidis is well known their single Changed has over million views on YouTube and was relicenced to three different labels.  His latest release Journey was released on the 19th of November and includes 16 lovely tracks that exhibits his talent to the fullest. Journey is released by the British house & disco label Needwant, which have been quite active those three years since the founding of the label, spanning the total of about 30 vinyl releases and  10 CD releases.

The overall production is clean and in every way top notch. That is something that can always be guaranteed with Mario Basanov. Tracks such as Something About which features Edwin Williamson and Say What Ya Want which features Stee Downes are both possible big radio hits. I would like to say summer hits, but i guess we have few months until we find out if that will be the case. It‘s good see the lovely Damn Girl and 80‘s influenced Skywalker on the album as they were both pretty solid dance tracks, which were previously released on the US-based label Nervous. There isn‘t a weak spot on the album. It‘s overall goodness, from beginning to the end. From the attitude-disco of Just Think About until the last track of the album, the epic Lonely Days where the Vangelis-style synths play around with soulful vocals. 

I think the best descripton i‘ve heard of Basanov‘s music is space disco and I can imagine myself driving a topless BMW on the Autobahns while playing the album – with dark-coloured sunglasses, of course. He has already proven himself in the Baltic area and fans of him will have many reasons to rejoice because of the release. 

-Jonas

Galvanic Elephants (EE) is another representative of electronic-poprock in the Estonian music zoo. The group mixes smart melodies and  poptunes with mature guitar sounds. They recently released a live video of their multicolored ”A night out” - a dancable poprock piece.

-Natalie

On a broad international scale Estonian music often tends to be associated with the great composers Arvo Pärt and Sven Grüberg, who both are also frequently named as important influence by young local composers. 
Especially Sven Grünberg is also well known by his easily recognizable sound for films. 

With a great pleasure it is possible to state that not only is the Estonian newschool pop music scene lush and exciting but at the same time the vast heritage of Pärt, Grünberg and other composers of  contemporary and classical music is being proceeded by a big number of young great minds.  

A prove of that is the recently launched database presenting Estonian songwriters and composers with the aim of increasing the international awareness about them as potential authors of soundtracks for various projects. 

On November 26th PÖFF and Tallinn Music Week promoted a party with an atmospheric, intimate and extremely lucid vibe   was held where a range of musicgroups represented on the site showcased their music. 

The somewhat of a challenging and responsible task to be the opening act of the evening was trusted to Jakob Juhkam, a 20 years old composer whose creation is a mind healing mixture of complicated sophisticated and emotional experimental fusion. A set of pieces from his fresh debutalbum “T” was performed by a extremely organic three piece, consisting of the composer himself on keys and guitar; an ultra skillful bass player and a vivid drummer. 

Lauri-Dag Tüür, mainly known as a talented guitarist offered the audience the possibility to take a trip into oneselfs mind and soul accompanied by his deep  eloquent computermusic. The strong bass and unforeseen turns and moves kept the audience concentrated and anxious on a remarkably high level throughout the whole performance. 

A phenomenal submission was given by Faun Racket - a perfectly balanced suggestive duo involving airy twisted vocals from singer and producer Andres Lõo and almost breath takingly strong bass and synth sounds from producer Talis Paide. 

Two remarkable looper concerts were given by violinist Tiit Kikas and guitarist Argo Vals. 

The main instrument from Tiit Kikas is his electric violin manipulated with several electronic devices. With his remarkable devotion,great mind and skills he creates mesmerizing and brisk sound inspiring the listeners mind to discover corners of the fantasy never entered before.

Argo Vals, a composer, guitarist and a courageous prodigy - releasing his debutalbum in early December 2012, creates epic, soulful and inspiring music which this time was brought to the audience as a solo performance - hypnotic and mind blowing. 

It is strongly recommended to discover more music performed that evening and represented on the site. It is also guaranteed that the wide range of genres and moods of the artists there affords everyone to find themselves a suitable soundtrack just for the day or for a more meaningful period. 

-Natalie 

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?

-Jonas

Napo is a young and talented producer from Lithuania (according to his FB page only 16 years old?!). We have been following his tunes for some time now as he has published loads of originals and remixes on his SC page over the past few years. This morning I was happy to find a new track from Napo called Save the Dreams. Loving it!

P.S. You must also check out Together and A Tale of Two, great stuff!

- Hanna-Stella

Ruutu Poiss (EE) is one of the members in Estonian skaters crew Haigla. Presumably influenced by the continuesly changing sights while cruising the city on his skateboard, Ruutu Poiss produces airy, light, rhythmical originalmusic with synths and drum machines.   
As a special guest he performs at the next Haigla Pidu (review about the last one with Inga Copeland) tonight in Tallinn at F-Hoone.  

-Natalie

Hi,
Greetings from Stockholm. Yesterday we had quite long trip with a
ferry, karaoke and wild night life, but fortunately here we are still
alive first time in Sweden. Today we had small excursion in the centre
of the city and in the evening we played our fifth gig in the tour.
The place was really awesome with great welcoming, food, tasty tea,
really good music and great people around us. Thanks our "mother" in
"Debaser Slussen".
Tomorrow we will continue our Swedish journey, next stop - Gothenburg.
Bye

From Latvians with love. St.Z.
Good evening,
One more day is over and we have accomodated in Turku hostel. The room
is quite cosy with huge Elvis Presley photo on the wall and free
Yoyos. Why not?
There is one thing we are pretty sure about - we like Turku and
tonight we had the best gig so far in bar Kuka. The place was quite
small, but the atmosphere, sound and audience was wonderful. This was
the first time when all five bands performed in one evening.
Tomorrow we will say good bye to Finland and have a long long looooong
journey to Stockholm.
Good night.
From Latvians with love. St.Z.

You might have pumped into the seductive music of Several Symptoms (originally from EE) before, maybe even saw them on stage somewhere in the UK or Tallinn… After almost a year of silence they are back with this hauntingly enchanting Resurrection. But next to that I strongly recommend you to keep your ears and eyes on the vocalist Mari-Liis Rebane who has under the name of Vul Vulpes recently released some really really good stuff!

-Hanna-Stella

Hey there,
Our first visit to Helsinki is almost over. We spent four hours on
sightseeing and after that had "great" fast food dinner. Our
conclusion - if you want to feel this city, you have to spend here
more time, because we are pretty sure that there is much more to see
and to discover than shops and some biggest central streets. However
in the evening we visited place called "Siltanen" and had nice and
peaceful performance there. For the first time we heard Ö and
Snöleoparden and enjoyed their extraordinary style of music.
Now we are having some rest and getting prepared to continue the tour
in a nice, automatically administrated hotel.
See you.
From Latvians with love. St.Z.