Looking over the handful of reviews that I have done for Latvians Online, one thing that seems to be in common is that almost all the groups are old. Most of the groups I review have been around since the 1970s or 1980s. Groups such as Līvi, Jumprava, Credo and Bumerangs have all enjoyed lengthy careers in the Latvian music world. This troubled me considerably. It made me feel much older than I am and I began to wonder if there were any new groups that would carry the flag of rock music. Or has the slow creep of mass-produced pop infected Latvia the same way it has infected most of the world?
One of the reasons that I liked the recent SuperIzlase compilation so much is that it provided a good balance of old and new and of pop and rock, and I bought it not for the all the groups that I already knew, but in search of new faces and sounds. One of the songs I liked the most from that compilation was the tune “Lietus dārzs” by a band called Tumsa. Though a melancholy song, it was very catchy and I really liked the lyrics: “Un saulē izdeg viss Tavs lietus dārzs” (Your entire garden of rain dried in the sun). I liked the song so much that I picked up the album, Katram savu Atlantīdu, and I can safely say that Tumsa is well-equipped to carry on the mantle of rock well into the future.
Actually, the full name of the group is “Mārtiņš Freimanis un grupa Tumsa.” Freimanis wrote all the lyrics and most of the music, sings and plays guitar, so I suppose he deserves top billing. The rest of the group includes Jānis Daugalis on bass guitar and vocals, Haralds Drekslers on rhythm and lead guitar, Kaspars Boroduško on drums and Einars Kokins on “skaņa” (which I guess means he’s the one doing the sound effects on the record).
Tumsa is based out of Liepāja. Katram savu Atlantīdu is the group’s second album, the first being Putni.
My favorite track on the album is the opening song, “Viņš (ir mazliet savādāks),” a great, uptempo introduction to the album. An infectious song, it practically begs for the listener to sing along on the “Hei la la” part.
Most of the album has a melancholy feel, but thankfully it never descends into the whiny, mopey, “woe is me” style that is in a lot of music today. “Klauns” is a sad song that is criticial of the phoniness that people adopt sometimes: “Tu esi tikai klauns, tavs mūžs deg cauri smiekliem, tu neesi nekas daudz” (You are only a clown, your future burns through laughter, you are not much of anything).
Other favorite songs on the album are “Vēlreiz, nekad vairs” and “Katram sava Atlantīda,” both catchy songs that encourage me to hit the “back” button on my CD player—and both songs I think would go over well live in concert.
The album hits a few rough spots in the home stretch. That’s where Freimanis exercises his English language ability, and the results are about what you would expect. A few awkward lyrics here, a few unusually pronounced words there, but otherwise solid efforts. You would think by now MICREC would have hired an English language consultant (I’ll do it!) to polish up stuff like this. But no matter, as writing songs in English is something I would still encourage these guys to do. It can only get better from here. However, with four songs in a row in English (“Lucky,” “I’m in Love,” “Someone” and “Freak”) it might be one or two too many.
Overall, a great album, full of memorable hooks and melodies, and an album I’d recommend to anyone looking for something new in the Latvian music world. Tumsa is currently in the studio working on their third record, so I expect big things from these guys in the future.
Katram savu Atlantīdu
On the Web
The Liepāja-based group’s official Web site. LV
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