The early 1990s were one of the brightest periods for Latvian rock and popular music. Perhaps it was the newly restored independence of Latvia, but so much creative and enduring popular music was composed during that time. The period saw the debut of standard bearers like Prāta vētra, Labvēligais tips and bet bet, as well as groups like Jumprava reaching a new artistic peak. With so much good music being released and performed, some groups unfortunately would get lost in the shuffle.
One such group is Otra puse. After the temporary breakup of Jumprava in 1992, Jumprava’s lead singer and guitarist Aigars Grāvers wanted to keep active in music performance, so he and drummer Aigars Krēsla (also of Jumprava), as well as previously unknown singer Normunds Pauniņš, keyboardist Ivars Makstnieks (formerly of Vaidava and Linga) and bassist Aldis Miodle, formed the group Otra puse.
Much like Jumprava, the group’s sound was based upon keyboards and synthesizers, with many layers of together to make deeply textured melodies and songs.
Thankfully the group has not been completely forgotten, as Pēc lietus, a collection of its best work was released in early 2007 by the recording company MAPLS. The compact disc collects all the great songs the group recorded over its more than 10 years of history. Many of the songs were only available on a long out-of-print cassette issued in the mid 1990s. Some of the songs were also included on the also out-of-print Grāvers retrospective Pret vēju pēc 90-ta. The CD includes one new song “Ieskaties.”
Otra puse had a turbulent history. Grāvers, Krēsla and Miodle departed the group in 1994. The group was then joined by Arnolds Kārklis (formerly of the Latvian-American band Akacis) on guitar and Mārtiņš Linde (later a member of Time After Time) on drums. Later the band was joined by Gints Saulītis on bass guitar. Today, Otra puse is a three-piece band made up of Pauniņš, Makstnieks and Saulītis.
One of my favorite songs by Otra puse is “Balāde par 3 saucieniem” (music by Grāvers, text by Aigars Grauba). It has almost a folk song sound to it.
The departure of musical heavyweights Grāvers and Krēsla did not affect the songwriting quality of the group. Keyboardist Makstnieks turned out to be an excellent composer in his own right, composing the music for songs such as “Dziesmiņā,” “Rīts” and “Enģelis” (all with words by frequent collaborator Ivars Kurpnieks). Pauniņš also established himself as a capable songwriter with “Dejas sapnī,” providing both words and music.
The CD booklet has all the lyrics for the songs, as well as a short biography of the group by journalist Daiga Mazvērsīte.
I am overjoyed that these songs are now collected on CD. Otra puse is one of the best groups from the 1990s. To lose these songs would have been tragic. Hopefully this will rekindle interest in the group, which is working on a new album, and it will continue to record and perform great songs.
MVTT CD 020
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