Latvian guitarist Reinis Jaunais has, throughout his world travels, developed his guitar skills and incorporated many different styles and techniques into his sound. He also regularly works and records with musicians from all over the world to create albums with a broad and varied sonic palette.
His 2020 album Zeme (‘the Earth’ or ‘soil’, among multiple other possible translations of the Latvian word), displays many of these techniques over its twelve songs, the majority of which are instrumentals, though two have vocals.
Most of the songs have titles inspired by nature. The energetic ‘Tveice’ (Swelter) shows Jaunais’ skill with both playing and tapping, and he is joined by Harry Vagrant on the santur (an instrument from the Middle East, a kind of hammered dulcimer which sounds quite like the Latvian kokle) as well as cellist Erna Daugaviete and bassist Ivars Štubis. The santur along with the guitar give this song an almost mystical, unearthly quality.
On ‘Melno smilšu pludmale’ (Black Sand Beach) Jaunais is joined again by Daugaviete as well as Rob van Barschot from the Netherlands on the Guda drum (a kind of percussive instrument that looks like two cymbals joined together – but still able to play on various pitches via vibrations). This relatively new instrument adds a new sonic dimension to the recording, with its melodic and dreamy sound.
Daugaviete’s cello adds a melancholy touch to the somber, subdued ‘Kailsals’ (Frost), while on the almost percussive ‘Stepe’ (or ‘Steppe’) they are joined by Ernests Mediņš on vibraphone. The ethereal sound of the vibraphone, with a melody that sounds like an improvisation, adds to the hypnotic atmosphere of this song.
Though the driving, pulsating ‘Violetās debesis’ (Purple Sky) is a solo performance by Jaunais, the guitarist alternates between playing and tapping the instrument, making it seem like there are multiple performers, giving this song a rich texture. Jaunais also adds vocals to ‘Atceries (kalnos)’, which begins restrained and placid, but then grows in intensity as the song progresses. Jaunais’ breathy, almost fragile voice then does get a bit lost in the mix, making the vocals slightly difficult to understand.
At times lively, at times reserved, the music of Reinis Jaunais combines musical elements and instruments from all over the world to create a diverse musical panorama on Zeme. Jaunais’ guitar and songwriting skills are evident throughout the album, and he brings together many talented musicians and instruments to add additional musical dimensions to his songs.
For further information, please visit Reinis Jaunais’ website.
- Violetās debesis
- Atceries (kalnos)
- Planēta B
- Melno smilšu pludmale
- Planēta krīt
- Dejas epidēmija