One cannot write about Latvian rock music history and not mention Rodrigo Fomins, or, as he is popularly known, Igo. He has one of the most recognizable voices in Latvian music. Igo’s 25-plus-year career has seen him perform with many different Latvian groups as well as in stage musicals.
His latest compact disc, Mirkļa liecinieks (Witness to the Moment), was released in March 2005 on the MICREC label. Considering his near-fatal accident five years ago and the resulting rehabilitation, Igo still sounds as strong as ever and has rebounded from that low point to release a very strong, solid rock album.
Igo was born in 1962 in Liepāja, home to many other famous Latvian musicians. By 1978, he had joined the rock group Corpus, but by 1980 was a member of the popular rock group Līvi. He can be heard singing on many of the band’s early hits, including “Zīlīte,” “Vēju muzikants” and “Zušu dziesma.” His career continued in 1985 when he joined Remix, recording hits such as “…pie laika,” “Meitene kafejnīcā” and “Kā senā dziesmā.”
His singing was not limited to just recordings, as he found success on stage as well. Igo took the role of Lāčplēsis in the Zigmārs Liepiņš rock opera of the same name, as well as Kvazimodo in another Liepiņš rock opera, “Parīzes Dievmātes katedrāle” (Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris). In recent years, he has focused on his solo work, which continued his extraordinary success, including hits like “Bet dzīvē viss ir savādāk.” In 1997, he released a two-disc retrospective called Tas ir Igo, a very thorough overview of his illustrious career.
Though he has accomplished a great amount in the field of music, his life has not been without tragedy. On May 16, 2000, Igo was involved in an extremely serious car crash, which left him with many broken bones and a concussion. It was unknown at that time whether he would even live, much less perform again. Miraculously, his health returned, and he has continued to record albums and perform in concert.
Joining Igo on Mirkļa liecinieks are Ivars Jercums on guitars, Edijs Dukurs on bass guitar, Juris Kristons on keyboards and Ilvars Manfelds on percussion. Igo handles almost all of the lyric writing on the record as well.
A number guest artists appear on the album. A Remix bandmate, guitarist Aivars Hermanis, performs acoustic guitar on “Kas gaida mūs” (Who Waits for Us). Hermanis also co-wrote “Manā istabā” (In My Room) with Igo. Brother Ivo Fomins, from the group Fomins & Kleins, performs a duet with Igo on the song “Krustojumā” (In the Crossing). Former Līvi bandmate Ainars Virga also performs guitar and shares songwriting credit on “Krustojumā” and on the album’s title track.
Probably my favorite song on the album is the first track, “Būsim kā 1” (Let’s Be 1), a straight-ahead rock number that shows Igo still has the ability to belt out a proper rock tune.
“Krustojumā” also is a favorite. Ivo and Igo also both sang in the group Liepājas brāļi, and this song has a small reference to their biggest hit—“Tikai tā.”
Somewhat out of place on the album, due to the song’s completely different style, is the new version of the Remix song “Dzeltenās kurpes” (Yellow Shoes) arranged by the rapper Gustavo. It is very strange to hear rapping in this quintessential 1980s pop tune. I prefer the original, though it is interesting to hear a completely different take on this song.
Packaging for the CD is minimalistic, containing just lyrics for the song “Mirkļa liecinieks” and some photos by Igo himself.
Mirkļa liecinieks is a very strong album and a welcome addition to the large number of Igo’s recordings.
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