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Two albums in one evening

Staņislavs Judins

Two short but conceptually and substantively rich albums: «through the light» and «Sējējs»

I am not a professional musicologist or critic, and I won’t pretend to be one, so I will allow myself to write simply and personally. Evaluating an album in which friends and like-minded people are involved is a difficult task. I noticed that when listening to recordings of friends, one has to get used to the sound because the tone, voices, and playing style are so familiar that it almost seems like I am participating in the recording and am in the rehearsal room or studio with them. The pieces must be listened to several times to abstract oneself from this feeling.

The album with Aleksandra Lines’ poetry and Uģis Prauliņš’s music, featuring such creative and talented musicians, immediately promises to be enjoyable and of high quality, and it is precisely that. The album «through the light» consists of three compositions. It is conceptual; all songs have the same title, but each is in a different language. Each piece is performed by a different singer, making this album even richer and more splendid. It is worth noting that all three singers are among the best jazz vocalists in Latvia, with considerable experience. Each has a unique character, style, and sound. The recording features vocalists Evilena Protektore, Rūta Dūduma-Ķirse, Santa Šillere, vibraphonist and percussionist Ēriks Miezis, and pianist Edgars Cīrulis. The sound is so rich and filled with good arrangements, exciting rhythms, and harmonies that it is impossible to immediately tell that only two instrumentalists are participating in the recording.

In the first song, «cauri gaismai» («through the light»), rich and interesting arrangements immediately stand out. After the first listen, I noticed how successfully and creatively multi-voice vocal parts were crafted, immediately capturing attention. The second piece, «through the light,» contrasts with the first — it is lyrical and flowing. Santa’s flowing vocals with Edgar’s and Ēriks’ airy arpeggios lead to bright and nostalgic memories. It could be a sound path for moments when you are here and now, feeling happy and peaceful. The album concludes with the song «сквозь свет» («through the light»), which is entirely different. It has darker tones with Eastern motifs and corresponding melismas, skillfully mastered by Evilena. All three pieces evoke very different feelings. Thanks to the rich arrangements and the emotions conveyed by poetry, this work never leaves the listener indifferent and keeps the listener’s attention all the time.

Thinking about the so-called mini-album «Sējējs» («Sower»), firstly, I want to express joy that Inese Bērziņa’s quartet has released the long-awaited album. There is no feeling that Inese, like never before, has vividly demonstrated her cultivated language of music, character, and style. Hearing this unique project for the first time, it is immediately noticeable that the bass part is performed by a tuba, which is a rarity for a wider audience nowadays. This certainly gives this ensemble a special sound. It should be noted that the tuba was used only in the first song on the album. However, the recording surprises not only with instrumentation — I got the impression that Inese put all her musical experience into this album. This is evident in the use of techniques, styles, genres, rhythms, harmonies, forms, and all kinds of musical presentations. The quartet skillfully uses elements of various genres, such as reggae, indie pop, psychedelia, blues, and jazz. I would say that each listener can find the sounds of their favorite performers from various genres in this music. However, it must be repeated that despite all this, Inese has excellently preserved her style and approach to music in this work. All four compositions are pretty diverse in terms of style, but the special sound of the group and Inese’s vocals unite them as a whole.

What is regrettable is that both albums adhere to the modern trend of offering increasingly shorter albums. This may be because every day, so many recordings are released worldwide that people wouldn’t have enough time in their lifetime to listen to everything that comes out one day. But I would like a continuation.