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«Acclivity» — a mirror of our interpretation

Krists Saržants

When the world of dreams breaks the reality

The band «Endless Roar» first introduced itself to the listeners in 2019, releasing the album «Rush Hush» under «Jersika Records». The band members — multinational musician and composer Jachin Pousson, Lithuanian saxophonist Arvydas Kazlauskas residing in Latvia, and double bassist, composer Stanislav Yudin — give way to their creativity and communication in the improvised music in this project. Continuing their direction with «Jersika Records», the new album «Acclivity» features the pianist Vestard Shimkus, well-known in Latvia and abroad, who also is, in a way, a composer in this unusual environment, speaking of the genre. Even though he’s more known as a classical pianist, this is a language that Shimkus can speak as well, making the listener hear every «word he says». The album that was «real-time» recorded on «Studer A 80 1/4» at the Latvian Radio studio is like a «Polaroid» shot — unique and unrepeatable, providing a special mood to everyone who listens. This makes us think about how exactly much of it has been created at the moment and how much belongs to the ideas of every musician, living in the deepest corners of their subconscious mind that were waiting for their time to break out. And how much of it all was created thanks to a long-term musical and human acquaintance. And the answer to this question really doesn’t matter that much — «Acclivity» is something more than eight compositions in an album. These are emotions — anger and sadness, love and light. This is the elation, hope, and feelings of each of the four musicians that have been captured in time for our interpretation.

When I agreed to review this album, I had no idea what to wait for, how to find the right words, and how to describe it, and the first composition, «Drill», didn’t make the task simpler at all. This was something I could expect from a free improvisation album — noise, expressiveness, and twists. Maybe that’s contrasting with the composition «Vanishing Steps», which is rhythmically ritualistic and melodic. I’m not exactly sure if that was a saxophone played by Kazlauskas or a melodic, stylistic direction of the composition, or maybe even a role of every instrument in it, but something in it made me remember the music by John Williams for the 2002’s movie «Catch Me If You Can». Probably the sound of Arvydas’ saxophone and his phrasing, in a way, reminded me of the saxophonist Dan Higgins’ sound in Williams’ music.

The composition slowly ends and brings us to the third «Acclivity» story — «Flashback». An unexpected oxymoron here is this composition — worried calmness. A worriedly calm Jachin’s drum play is accompanied by a way more static, repetitive piano and bass lines. This all is united by Kaslauskis’ melodic saxophone improvisation, which is undoubtedly in the center of this composition together with Pousson, creating this worried calmness. With the composition lightly moving up, it fades out with more and more light.

«Hope Springs Eternal» takes us further on this fairy-tale journey that has undoubtedly become an interesting trip. This lyrically dramatic story from sad crying double bass strings and crystalline tired piano string tears grows into an emotional cry for hope, at last for a little feeling of the light coming down after a night that stayed for way too long. After despair, after the last power source comes to an end, it helps us feel some warmth from the sun rays, flying higher above the clouds, that is «Volando».

This flying work comes just like its sun-hugged fresh air on a chilly autumn morning. «Volando» is the shortest composition of the album, but it gives us a breath, energy that differs from what we’ve felt before — just like the translation of the name, it makes us fly somewhere above the fields, mountains, and lakes until this composition flies away.

«Sirius» is the brightest star in the sky. The name of it evolved from the Greek word «seirios» or glowing. I cannot state that «Sirius», which the quartet pleads to take to in the sixth composition, «Can You Take Me Please To Sirius», is exactly this star, although I can imagine this way to it exactly like this. As a view on this brightly blue diamond in the night sky becomes a view back down to Earth from a distance that seemed so close just a moment ago. Just as a reflection from the Sun in the space suit helmet glass gets changed to a blue and white light with the last notes in the outro, this star would sound exactly like it if only we could reach it.

Playing between dissonance and consonance. This is how we could describe the penultimate album composition «Too Late». While creating almost a jazz ballad-like mood, this composition really hypnotized. Just as a dream that is hard to reach or see clearly, but can be undoubtedly felt. While the musicians wander further away in their dissonances, seemingly further away in their dream, we get woken out from it with a virtuoso Arvydas Kazlauskas’ saxophone play in the last composition of «Acclivity» — «Concentric Corridors».

Returning back to aggressive chaos, this album seems to be two different worlds — just like a dream world that has broken into a harsh reality, «Endless Roar» together with Vestars Shimkus have created this journey. And what exactly is «Acclivity» — being everything we wish it to be. This album is a mirror for moment emotions of the four musicians, but also a mirror for our feelings and interpretation of that same moment — and I have to say thanks for that. Thanks for the opportunity to take a look into this mirror.