Out from underground, Daksis reveals his personae

Mežs ieiet sevī

With the release of his sixth or seventh album this spring, prolific Latvian singer-songwriter and philosopher Imants Daksis is finally reaching larger audiences and receiving wider recognition. While the small batches of his previous, more or less self-made, recordings are now hard to come by, Mežs ieiet sevī is a larger undertaking, distributed by Lauska, a relatively new culture management center based in Rīga. This is definitely a good career move for Daksis, but the trade-off is that it might take some of the mystery and underground-ness out of his reputation.

Daksis is younger than you would think—in his mid-20s—and often seems shy in concert. He is serious and concentrates on his music, yet is a master in the art of working an audience. Sometimes he plays softly and gently, but by the very next song he could be shouting in a booming voice.

Needless to say, Mežs ieiet sevī also reflects these two personalities of Imants Daksis. The compact disc begins with “Situ vēju ar koku,” which is less of a song and more of a boastful call or a fragment of spoken word. He continues with the same deep calling voice in “Purvs tevi sauc,” and the listener’s first impression may be of a pretentious singer with an affected voice. But Daksis’ other persona—the gentle folk singer, for lack of a better description—soon takes over. “Es gribu mīlēties ar tevi šonakt” contains touches of the accordion, flutes and kokle. These instruments, accompanied by mandolin and bagpipes in other songs, keep popping up throughout the CD, reminding the listener at times of the folksy side of Jethro Tull (for example, in “Matērijas bilžu grāmata”). Acoustic guitar, though, remains Daksis’ one constant.

Despite flipping back and forth between two voices and two personalities, much of the album sounds moody and intense. One song comments about excessive drinking, another is a call to battle, another an analogy to rape, followed by childhood innocence. The title of the album refers to the thicket of loneliness, trials and rejuvenation that many creative people go through. Heavy stuff, most of it. For example, “Šī deja bij’ smaga, es piekusu drīz, bet kā vienmēr spēks pretstatā nespēkam viz…” {This dance was difficult, I tired soon; but as always, strength glitters in comparison to weakness…), or “Tu esi lidmašīna, es esmu taurenītis; Es tevi ķeru, bet vai tu arī mani redzi?” (You’re an airplane, I’m a butterfly; I catch you, but do you also see me?).

In between the philosophical songs, though, are a few wonderfully absurd gems, with lyrics such as “Pats esi pavārs, pats esi kūka, pats sevi ēd un dod arī citiem – priecājies, ka tu garšo! (You are the baker, you are the cake, you eat yourself and give some to others—be happy that you taste good!).

Although Daksis sometimes performs pretty standard sounding music (for example, “It nekas…”) and even gets air time on Latvian radio, deep down he’s an uninhibited, minor-key, operatic bard who likes holding long notes. The one song in Russian on the CD proves that he also not only feels at home, but really shines in Vladimir Vysotsky’s native language and style.

So Imants Daksis is a bit odd. Maybe too dramatic or “deep” for some, maybe too raw for others. But it seems that most Latvians are proud to call him their own.


Mežs ieiet sevī

Imants Daksis

Lauska,  2007

On the Web

Imants Daksis

The singer’s Web site has news about performances, samples of his music, photographs and philosophical musings. LV

Imants Daksis on MySpace

Imants Daksis’ MySpace site has samples of his music. EN

Where to buy

Purchase Mežs ieiet sevī from BalticMall.

Note: Latvians Online receives a commission on purchases.

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