Daksis, still strange, grows on reviewer

Imants Daksis

He’s done it again. Imants Daksis has released another album in less than a year’s time. If his previous album was my curious introduction to Daksis, then with this album—titled Vēl nedzimušas reliģijas templī (In the Temple of a Still Unborn Religion)—he’s kind of beginning to grow on me. He’s still a strange one, though.

Take, for instance, the compact disc release concert he gave last fall at the Rīga Circus. At the performance-art-like event he treated the audience to a unique “song”: a 5-minute yell and variations thereof, all the while possessed by a tearful stare into a super-bright spotlight. Despite the location of the concert and the inclusion in it of mimes, acrobats and a llama, only the very last track on the CD hints of the circus.

Daksis’ first song, “Meitene no Antarktīdas,” greets us with a charming text about (at least superficially) pen pals from opposite sides of the world. The second song is a conversation with a bee that compares our existence to honey. Musically the two songs—both featuring an acoustic guitar—sound almost identical and are quite pleasant, but not half as charismatic as Daksis is live. The third song, “Lodes,” is basically a more intense variation on the first two. One begins to wonder whether Daksis has gotten into a rut. Does the mood and sound finally change with the fourth song? Not really. The melody is different, the guitar has switched to arpeggios and the bass has quieted down. But the mood is more of the same: windy, dark, brooding and intense. The theme of the song—“Vientuļš bērns” (Lonely Child)—fits right in.

“Gaismas dievs” finally provides a welcome musical change. It begins on a lighter note, albeit in a mostly minor key, but eventually turns typically intense. The refrain is catchy, though. “Lido!” is a short song full of the interplay between minor and major keys that Daksis is so fond of. It is followed by “Pasaules bērni” (Children of the World) and then a fluid and serene song titled “Pļava” (The Meadow), but again Daksis imperceptibly morphs into a passionate climax before leaving the meadow behind.

Parts of “Puisēns no Tibetas”—a song dedicated to Tibet—sound like spoken poetry. In fact, many of Daksis’ songs don’t have much of a recognizable melody but sound rather like poetry put to music, which, I suppose, they are. In addition, his poetry often does not follow a set poetic meter and therefore doesn’t always fit the musical lines, either. The result is, well, just plain Daksis’ style. The experimental radio sounds of “Antarktīda” run into the last song, “Šūpolēs.” Circus horns and bells in the background provide the listener with a smile at the end of the disc, and maybe even a feeling of guarded optimism.

Daksis’ main instrument is the acoustic guitar. His style is clear, sharp and distinct, with prominent and repetitive, though not over-powering, bass lines. This CD also contains plenty of electronic effects, echoes, random noises and the like. Even more distinctive of this artist are his two voices: one is the rich, dramatic, intense, sometimes even comically operatic voice of Daksis the Extrovert, while the other voice is of the folksy introvert.

Daksis’ style stays more or less the same throughout the recording. A 7-year-old’s comment after the circus concert: “I liked how he sang, but it got kind of boring after a while.” Likewise, his style has not changed too much from his previous works. So, if you’ve liked his earlier recordings, then by all means buy this disc and support one of the few characters in Latvian alternative music to reportedly make his living solely from his music. Daksis is an odd, philosophical guy and much of his music’s essence lies in his lyrics. Personally, I have a hard time getting into the lyrics, much less understanding them, but I quite enjoy his music.


Vēl nedzimušas reliģijas templī

Imants Daksis

Lauska,  2007


On the Web

Imants Daksis

The singer-songwriter’s official Web site. EN LV RU

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