Formed in 1992, the Latvian rock band Otra puse has been reborn and has released two albums since 2007. (Publicity photo)
The rebirth of the band Otra puse has been one of the most welcome events in Latvian popular music in recent years. Originally founded in 1992 by former members of Jumprava, the group recorded a number of great songs in the early 1990s, only to go very quiet for the next decade or so. After reintroducing itself with the retrospective album Pēc lietus in 2007, the group set about working on an album of all new songs, releasing Nakts vai rīts earlier this year.
Returning for Nakts vai rīts are vocalist Normunds Pauniņš as well as keyboardist Ivars Makstnieks. Guitar duties are divided between Gints Saulītis and current guitarist Arnolds Kārklis (formerly of the Latvian-American band Akacis and a member of Otra puse in the early 1990s), bassist Mārtiņš Burkevics and drummer Rihards Zaļupe. The music was written by Pauniņš and Makstnieks. As in the early 1990s, the lyrics to a number of the new songs are by Ivars Kurpnieks.
The group’s music, as always, is based around synthesizers and keyboards, as evidenced by the opening title track “Nakts vai rīts,” one of my favorite songs on the album. It has all the hallmarks of earlier songs by Otra puse: catchy, romantic lyrics (that neither night nor day will help forget someone); the unique and passionate voice of Pauniņš; and the intricate synthesizer work of Makstnieks.
Included is an ode to the capital of Latvia, simply called “Rīga,” in which the singer wishes to be wound into the beloved and endless city. Also on the album is the captivating “Ieskaties,” one of the first songs the band recorded after reuniting (and also included on the Pēc lietus collection). “Ziemas šūpuļdziesma” is a beautiful song with a Christmas theme, featuring as guest vocalists Hobos frontman Rolands Ūdris and new singing star Aisha.
I also like the fact that although there is a heavy emphasis on keyboards and synthesizers, they never overwhelm the music, such as on “Dievs dod” (lyrics by Ūdris), featuring a particularly memorable vocal by Pauniņš.
Not only is the return of Otra puse very welcome, but I think the band has exceeded all expectations in its return with this truly great album. Proving that its success in the early 1990s was no fluke, and building on the Pēc lietus collection, many of the songs on the album have already become hits locally. Nakts vai rīts is one of the best Latvian rock albums in recent memory. Now let’s hope the group does not disappear for another decade.
Nakts vai rīts
Platforma Records, 2009
Nakts vai rīts
Kad paliek auksts
On the Web
The band’s official Web site includes a biography, videos and other material for fans. LV
The band’s page on the social network draugiem.lv. LV
The band’s page on MySpace has some song samples and photos. EN
Where to buy
Purchase Nakts vai rīts from BalticShop.
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