Music lovers abroad looking for new tunes from Latvia can sometimes find complete albums available free online, especially from little-known or independent artists. And downloading the music does not mean having to violate copyright laws, although the artists sometimes request small donations if the album is appreciated.
Among artists whose music we have explored in recent weeks are the group Gaujarts, the singer-songwriter Kārlis Kazāks, the boisterous ensemble Oranžās Brīvdienas, and the four-member Mongowery.
Musical artists make free downloads available to promote their work and to cultivate new listeners.
Gaujarts, a band with an ecletic sound, in 2008 released its debut album, Koncerts kultūras namā. If some elements of its sound are familiar, consider that the band’s members include Edgars Šubrovskis of now-defunct group Hospitālu iela. Other members of Gaujarts are Mārcis Gurtiņš, Edgars Mākens, Ģirts Šolis and Maija Ušča. To get the 11-track album, visitors to the band’s website, www.gaujarts.lv, are asked to sign up for the Gaujarts newsletter.
Kazāks has a long history with music, as his unusual biography reveals. His résumé includes performing with the bands Dull Doll and Oceanfall (anyone remember either one?). Now Kazāks is on his own and making some wonderful music. His most recent album, 16 stundas, was released April 4. Our favorite song title, if not our favorite song, from the 10-track album is “Ļauj man izgarot” (Let Me Evaporate). The album is available on his website, www.kazaks.lv. His 2008 album, Uz manām plaukstām also can be downloaded.
Oranžās Brīvdienas is an ensemble, led by Speiss (Ints Ķergalvis), that was formed in 2000 in Kuldīga. The group calls its musical style “turbofolk,” but there’s more turbo than folk in it: Ska, reggae, metal, rock and disco are among elements noted in the band’s description. A 10-year, 14-track retrospective album, Evribadī tancevaķ, was let loose in March and can be found on the website, www.oranzas.lv.
Mongowery is a group formed in 2004. Its members include Matthew Mongowery, Deniss Mironovs, Roman Beļov and Sveta Navrozašvili. The band’s biography states that its style is not restricted by genre, although the band’s 2009 album Seed Please clearly has rock influences. While the band is better known in the Russian music scene in Rīga, the six-track album is all in English save for one song. The album is available by finding the link on Mongowery’s Facebook page, or by visiting the direct link on the file-hosting service www.4shared.com.
Many other artists’ recordings can be found by visiting genre-specific websites, such as punk.lv, or by following music-oriented blogs. The underground music recording project Tornis, which is on hiatus, provides a retrospective album, TORNIS: 20 gadi, 20 dziesmas, for free on its website, www.tornis.lv.
The band Mongowery, part of Latvia’s Russian music scene, offers its debut six-track album as a free download. (Publicity photo)
Gaujarts released Koncerts kultūras namā in 2009 both as a free digital download and as a compact disc. The band asks visitors to its website to register for a newsletter in order to get the download.
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