A tasty spread of new music

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Every couple of years Latvians get a taste of some fresh butter. Sviests IV, that is – the compilation of what’s new in the world of Latvian ethnic and ethnic-inspired music (sviests means butter in Latvian). This fourth edition of the Sviests series was released in late 2011 and contains 22 samples of everything from a popular turn-of-the-20th-century song to modern music for the concert kokle, from a traditional harvest melody to folk-rock and ambient music.

Kristīne Kārkle-Puriņa and her band of Folkvakars musicians start off the CD with “Skaista mana tēva sēta” that brings to mind the Latin American tropics. “As beju muotei vīneiguo meita” introduces Vīteri, an energetic and fun group of teenagers from Rēzekne. Julgī Stalte and Leanne Barbo (a.k.a. the Estonian bagpipe player) form the core of Tai tai, whose catchy song “Opsasā” sticks in my mind long after the disc has finished playing. Krampis, a rock band from Līvāni, bases its songs on folk melodies. The Canadian-Latvian group Tērvetes trubadūri sings a gutsy rendition of “Kas redzēja auseklīti”, which is followed by another soldier’s song performed by the new group DER.

Latvīte Podiņa’s electric kokle has caused a sensation in Latvia. A song by her contemporary group Vētras saites is also included on Sviests IV and brings to mind Mike Oldfield’s “Discovery”. The heavier sound of Ēnu kaleidoskops and their “Upura dziesma” follows. Pērkonvīri make use of another electric kokle by adding a circus of percussion over loops of Laima Jansone’s playing. Trakula have taken a traditional name-giving ceremony song and given it a medieval reworking that includes the obligatory bagpipes and drums yet still concludes on a delicate note. The next song – “Kur tu skrīsi” by the youth group Rudzi – begins with the rough, rhythmic sound of the ģīga. Not really at home in either the world of ethnic or academic/classical music, the concert kokle finds a home on Sviests IV with an original composition for the Teiksma ensemble of concert kokle players, established in 1955. Liene Brence and Aiga Sprindža play and sing “Vysu dīnu jumi jiemu”, mesmerizing the listener with the cimbalom. Sviests IVhas included a song each by the exciting new group Miglas asni as well as the folk music icon Austris Grasis and his clarinet.

In between are songs by long-standing groups Iļģi and Laiksne and the more recent Vilkači and Lāns – can you pick out the “clay pot” without referring to the liner notes? The disc ends on a traditional, acoustic note with “Skaista muižeņa” by the Latgalian folk band Ilža, “Pa taciņu gar upmalu” by Hāgenskalna muzikanti, and a bachelor’s version of “Pankūkas”.

Next time you’re in Latvia, look for the all-yellow CD – it stands out on shelves like a tub of fragrant, freshly hand-churned butter on the table. Also available from Lauska: www.lauska.lv


Sviests IV

Various artists

Lauska,  2011

Track listing:

Skaista Mana Tēva Sēta
Trīs Rītiņi Saule Lēca
As Beja Muotei Vīneigo Meita
Suņi Rēja
Kuopu, Kuopu Kolnā
Kas Redzēja Auseklīti
Uz Kariņu Es Aizgāj
Šķērsu Dienu Saule Tek
Upura Dziesma
Tumsā Gāju Vakarā
Kūmāmi ledama
Kur Tu Skrīsi
Dejas Sajūta
Vysy Dīnu Jumi Jiemu
Labāk Kuļu Rudza Riju
Doncuot Guoju Ar Meitom(i)
Skaista Muižeņa
Pa Taciņu Gar Upmalu
Vecpuiša Pankūkas

On the Web


Find out more about this CD on the Lauska web site. LV

Where to buy

Purchase Sviests IV from BalticShop.

Note: Latvians Online receives a commission on purchases.

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