It’s happening. Slowly but surely, the alternative music scene is surfacing in Latvia. It used to be that I’d hear a music clip of some no-name punk band and I would want to cry. It was that bad. Oh, sure, there were groups that put out a good effort, but all they got were screaming (singing) and terrible static (music) that was unclear and unsatisfying. However, the group Iedomu Spārni with their debut album Dienasgrāmata could teach the struggling wannabes a thing or two. Call me crazy, but I think there’s just something about clarity to vocals and instrumentals that makes sense.
When the compact disc arrived in the mail, it was like Christmas. Each track held something different and likable. With a mixture of peppy punk rock, dark rock, regular rock, moving ballads, a bit of funk, and songs that could very well be numbers in a musical, Iedomu Spārni completely blew away my expectations.
The group, formed in 2000 by Ieva Zēģele, Jānis Dreiškins and Jānis Kuršs, likes to experiment with their talents and resources, making for a sound that is never repetitive and far from boring. Lead singer Zēģele has vocals that match that of Evanescence’s lead vocalist Amy Lee; Iedomu Spārni even has a few tracks that remind me of Evanescence and other dark rock groups. The only difference is that instead of depressing lyrics about loneliness and heartache, Iedomu Spārni carries more of the angstful “take that” or “you’ll be sorry later” feel that so many punk bands have. Perhaps the best way to describe them at this point is as a “dark punk” band (think Finch or Brand New).
Also appearing on the album is keyboardist Alīna Melngaile, who was with the band from 2002-2004. Now in her place, according to the band’s Web site, is guitarist Toms Skujiņš.
The first track on the album, “Zaiga,” is the song I think would fit in a rock-musical. It’s a song about how love screws with one’s brain, but with carefree and fun lyrics put to rock music. I can just imagine a large group of people dancing on stage in perfect time. Right off the bat, the thing that I like the most is that I can hear the guitar, bass guitar, percussion, keyboard, and… and… no synthesizer? What?! Amazing! This caught me off guard. Then again, it’s only the first track. Maybe it’s a waste to think it could last. Wrong.
Track two, one of my favorites, starts out with a funky guitar and percussion duet. It immediately gets the head-bobbing response. This song is a motivational speech about not letting what others think or say get to you. Perfect, considering the song is called “Dumpinieku dziesmiņa” (Rebel Song). With this song not only do I like the continuing lack of synthesizer, but I like that even though this is a song about rebellion, it’s not your run-of-the-mill, “damn the man” rebellion. The main point is to live for yourself: “Ja vēlies kļūt par enģeli, uzadi sev spārnus / Ja gribi aizmirst neveiksmes – meklē citus vārtus / Kad jūties slikti – skaļi bļauj /un neļauj, lai Tev neatļauj!”
Track three, “Nāc man līdz,” is another one of my favorites. The vocals start out smoothly and quietly, but with the feeling that they’re being pushed tempo-wise, if even the tiniest bit. Then, at one minute and 16 seconds it all breaks loose. Ripping vocals filled with emotion with instrumentals to match. Unfortunately, the fast-paced section of the album is pretty much over at this point. The rest of the CD, starting with track four, is more sonorous and ballad-like, bringing out that bit of dark-rock. Iedomu Spārni proves very well that they can play many different styles and emotions.
For a few of the later tracks the band even brought in some outside help. For track 10, “Enģeļu čuksti,” the group was joined by the string quartet of the Jāzeps Mediņš Music College to create a very moving and beautiful track, making it one of the best on the entire album. And on the last track, a remix of track eight, “Glāb,” Latvian rapper Gustavo lends a hand, adding an interesting new twist to the original.
From a clean cut-looking band to a sound that rocks, Iedomu Spārni is a welcome addition to my CD collection. The final thing I enjoyed about this album is that there are no English tracks to be found. At this point, I don’t think they need to attempt any, but if they do, I hope it’s good. Either way, from my mind to my heart to me standing on my desk chair, to Iedomu Spārni and their first album, a standing ovation.
On the Web
The Web site for the band Iedomu Spārni includes biographical information, samples of music, video clips and a forum for fans. EN LV
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