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Klausies. Слушай. Listen.: «17»

Krists Saržants

Krists Saržants about a touching collaboration of poetry and jazz — and about an album where each story deserves to be heard

The founder of the Klausies. Слушай. Listen. project, a poet Aleksandra Line has started a very moving collaboration of poetry with jazz music. And in truth it’s even more than that, more from both arts. It is a story way grander than just letters on a paper. This is all emotions, feelings, life, framed by three amazing musicians — Toms Rudzinskis on saxophone, flute and effects, Toms Mikāls on the synthesizer and Artis Orubs on drums and percussions.

Spoken Word is a movement that hasn’t yet gained a wide popularity in Latvia, that is why this album that unites poetry and jazz is undoubtedly raising interest. Music gives the poetry a brighter emotional thread to link it with the listener. Album «17» consists of 15 compositions, or, as I like to call them, stories and, as the name of the project hints, in three languages — Latvian, Russian and English.

Artūrs Dimenšteins

The first composition «17» creates an unexpectedly dark and emotionally deep mood. Together with the improvisation provided by the band, the second part of it shows a serious and powerful image of the whole album.

«The Road» surprised with an unexpected use of the string instrument timbre. Unfortunately — a synthetic one. A surprise that once again proved a disappointing fact — in the battle of the real and synthetic violin, the real one always wins. But the harmonies of the tune are a noticeable achievement, although the music did overshadow the poetry a bit.

A composition called «Golos», if we talk about the poetry, emotionally was very convincing, even more than the previous two tracks, where the music was the main creator of the atmosphere. Also this composition turned out to be sort of a comfort zone for Aleksandra. «Golos» has found its voice in a sea of jarred musical motives.

«Adams» has created in me an atmosphere of the 80s, reminding me of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War Of The Worlds. «Jazz Musician» undoubtedly gave a chance of self expression to Artis Orubs and Toms Rudzinskis, thus leaving Aleksandra a bit on the sidelines.

«Su» is a perfect continuation of the previous composition that just makes you feel that cigarette smoke and the taste of whiskey in so Moscow’s jazz bar from the mid 20th century. Toms Mikāls was fortunate enough to catch that sound. And then «Kjara» will guide you into another dimension once again. A seemingly unintentional comment that Artis made in the recording made me smile because of how «alive» those studio recordings can be. Percussions and looped motives of Toms Mikāls created a vibe of spiritual rituals that complemented Aleksandra’s poetry, and that later on transformed into a flowing harmony, although resolving with a unresolved interval.

«Sails» is sort of a follow-up to a ritualistic vibe that was started in «Kjara» and here played in a call & response manner by Toms Rudzinskis. A subtle comping gives the listener a chance to be fully immersed in what Aleksandra is reading. The mix of both sets the right mood to help the listener imagine a late evening at the sea side at that magical moment when the sun had already set, but the darkness hadn’t yet gained its reigns.

The pureness of the harmonies in the composition «La linea gialla» successfully resolves the mood set in the previous composition. It serves as a contrast to the previous tune where the main image that comes to mind is of the night at the seaside, here it’s more about the morning, hope and light. Toms Mikāls’ performance is outstanding here and complements Aleksandra’s story perfectly.

The «Līst» composition’s beginning is played powerfully by all three musicians, their performance morphs from the flashbacks of the jazz tradition to something a lot more modern, giving Aleksandra a much needed tension in the music and the voice, if compared, for example, with «The Road», where the voice was almost playing a supporting role.

«Shark» made me smile in realisation of how much Toms Rudzinskis really loves chromatic interval sequences, which is also heard in the very first composition of the album. Needless to say that his performance in this solo is very typical for him in the sense of the sound, licks, which gives him his distinctive sounding, that could be easily recognized.

«Jevgenij» reminded me of a noble awakening. Russian poetry with some freedom in Aleksandra’s voice goes well together with the sounds of organ and a dramatic drum tremolo, hinting that the grand finale is near — a good type of the end, that also swerves a bit to the side from that image we got of the project through the previous compositions. On the contrary, the «Apmaldīties» tune doesn’t allow to wander too far away and in the second part gives Toms Rudzinskis back that freedom to play in his own style, who then leaves the ending of the tune to Toms Mikāls and Artis Orubs, who give it a sophisticated touch.

«Addiction» gives Aleksandra a chance to continue on with her fire and the passion in her voice, that flows above the seeming chaos of the comping and glueing both genres together. And then the «Addiction» tune halts the chaos, exchanging it for the light reprieve from all the ruckus, moving to the resolution, the light, the grand finale. Simple, with no pressure, just what the ending really needed.

From a dramatically dark beginning to the playful chaos and to the light in the end, it all makes us expect a new release. This is an album I would recommend to enjoy in an uninterrupted setting, a slow evening when we can make ourselves really listen. It is easy to criticise, but when it comes to hearing a person’s heart and the soul… It’s odd how often we have problems with that. But here, each story truly deserves to be heard. Klausies. Слушай. Listen.