Son’s music tribute is good, mixed bag

On Rudens vēju muzikants Feliks Ķiģelis, the son of the late Latvian rock composer Ēriks Ķiģelis, brings together an all-star group of Latvian musicians to pay tribute to his father and his music.

Ēriks Ķiģelis was the guiding light behind the famous Latvian rock group Līvi. Up until his untimely death in 1985, he was the main composer for the band. His musical talent is apparent in many well-known Latvian songs including “Zīlīte”, “Saldus saule”, “Aprīļa pilieni” and “Kurzemei – Saules ceļš”—a song that, although he did not live to see it completed, was finished and presented on 1988’s self-titled Līvi album.

Ēriks was a great influence on many Latvian acts. Not only can his spirit still be found in the recent records of Līvi, but, judging by the varied performers found on the Rudens vēju muzikants collection, he has influenced many other rock and pop performers. Famous names such as Igo, Gvīdo Linga, Guntars Račs and past and present members of Līvi have come together to pay tribute to Ēriks and his music. The testimonials from many famous Latvian names contained in the compact disc booklet attest to his great influence. It was a great loss to Latvian rock music when he died.

However, this is not the first tribute record to Ēriks Ķiģelis. The 1997 Līvi album Bailes par ziņģēm was dedicated to his memory and included many re-recordings of Ēriks’ songs. It would seem inevitable that Rudens vēju muzikants would inspire comparisons to Bailes par ziņģem as there are five songs that can be found on each record.

I have heard very little of Ēriks Ķiģelis’ original works. The only song that I have heard the original version of was “Zīlīte,” included on the Mikrofons 1982 collection, so I am unable to compare these versions to the originals (except for the posthumously recorded and released “Kurzemei – Saules ceļš”). Hopefully this record will generate enough interest in Ķiģelis that MICREC can dig into its vaults and re-release all of the old recordings by Ēriks, since as far as I am aware, they are not available anywhere. That’s a shame, because by listening to the songs on Rudens vēju muzikants one can tell that Ēriks was a great musician and songwriter who was taken away too quickly.

As with many of the Latvian compilation and collection CDs, the results are a mixed bag. While there are many strong tracks, there also are tracks that do not live up to expectations. However, there are enough songs on the album to make it a worthwhile purchase to those unfamiliar with Ēriks Ķiģelis and his work.

Rudens vēju muzikants starts off with a rousing instrumental—“Mazais sapnītis”—which teams up Feliks Ķiģelis with current Līvi guitarist Ainars Grodums, who makes many appearances on the album. On “Mazais sapnītis,” as well as every song on the album, Feliks plays guitar.

Gvīdo Linga adds his vocal talents to “Elektriskā zivs,” which is followed by Igo taking over the vocal responsibilities on “Istabā tumsā” (with distorted vocal effects, no less!). “Zušu sziesma,” featuring Māris Žigats on vocals, is one of the weaker entries on the album, as it tries a funkier approach to the song, but the desired effect is not achieved—and the vocals are nothing special.

The strongest track on the album is “Deviņvīru spēks”—which is one of the sections of the previously mentioned Līvi epic “Kurzemei – Saules ceļš.” Aivars Brize, the ex-lead singer for Līvi, as well as the original vocalist for the song, returns to replay the piece in all of its original heavy glory. This time, the song is given an electronic feel, which strengthens it and perhaps makes it superior to the original recording. “Deviņvīru spēks” is one of my favorite Līvi songs, mainly due to the great guitar part, as well as the great riff that opens up the song.

Another Līvi member, current guitarist and lead singer Ainars Virga, returns to sing (well, growl would be the better word!) and play bass guitar on the song “Durvis,” another less memorable track on the collection. “Svētelis,” one of my favorite Ķiģelis songs, is assisted by Inguss Ulmanis on vocals and by Guntars Račs, famous Latvian producer, on drums, who also appears on “Zīlīte,” the next track. “Zīlīte” is the only song on the album that features a female vocalist, Agnese. Her vocals add greatly to the song and make “Zīlīte” another standout track on the album.

Zigfrīds Muktupāvels appears on “Kurzeme,” which, although a good song, does not really differ from the original much. Gunārs Kalniņš appears on the song “Kursas putni,” and Feliks Ķiģelis himself takes over vocal duties on my all-time favorite Ēriks Ķiģelis song, “Saldus saule.” Though Feliks has a great voice, the rather slow tempo he takes with the song gives it a plodding feel.

The verdict? Well, I believe Bailes par ziņģēm is the stronger record and perhaps a better introduction to the works of Ēriks Ķiģelis. However, hearing other artists’ interpretations of Ēriks’ works is worthwhile. It would have been nice to have the song lyrics as well. For those who might have heard and enjoyed Bailes par ziņģēm, I would recommend this record. I would also recommend this record for those who enjoy Latvian rock music, as it is a solid effort, though not very memorable.


Rudens vēju muzikants

Ēriks Ķiģelis

MICREC,  1999

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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