Youthfully energetic Laimas muzykanti perform diverse arrangements of Latvian folksongs on new CD

For nearly thirty years, Latvian folk ensemble Laimas muzykanti have been active and energetic performers and interpreters of Latvian folk songs. Founded in Daugavpils in 1995 by multi-instrumentalist Artūrs Uškāns, the group perform songs in Latvian and Latgallian both in a traditional style, as well as with modern instruments and arrangements. Their latest album – Turu buru ­– was released in 2023.

Laimas muzykanti have always stood out with their unusual and interesting arrangements, and, according to Uškāns, in recording Turu buru, many of the ensemble members participated in arranging the music, resulting in even more diverse sounds – hard rock, Latin, bluegrass, as well as traditional elements can be heard in the songs on the album.

The arrangements on the album span the full spectrum from traditional to modern. More traditional and sparser arrangements can be found in songs like “Kokle”, which, unsurprisingly, features the Latvian kokle as the lead instrument. The tender, heartbreaking song is about a girl who falls into a river, but whose soul can be found in the wood of a linden tree which is then used to make a kokle that has a beautiful sound, and the tragedy in the folk texts is enhanced by the enthralling vocals by Baiba Ērgle.

Laimas muzykanti have an eclectic repertoire as well as unusual arrangements, and one example on the album is ‘Viejeņš pyute’, which begins as a harsh, discordant waltz, then includes traditional elements, and then concludes with hard rock elements.

A Celtic atmosphere is created on ‘Lakstīgala’, a song about a nightingale that sings so beautifully, that a young man spills his wine glass (resulting in the hostess calling him a drunk). The song also features a lovely musical interlude between guitarist Armands Varslavāns and mandolinist Ilze Fārte.

More hard rock elements can be heard in ‘Jūras māte’, an appropriately stormy song about a quarrel between the Sea Mother and the Wind Mother.

The group is joined by Latvian singer Ieva Akurātere and Etnozoom to create the atmospheric, trance-like ‘Putni’. Akuratere’s expressive and soaring vocals are joined with electronic music to create an immersive performance.

Well into their third decade of performance, Laimas muzykanti have not lost the youthful and boisterous energy that have been a hallmark of their recordings. Turu buru continues their melding of Latvian folk songs with more modern elements in unique, distinctive arrangements, resulting in another satisfying collection of songs.

For further information, please visit the Laimas muzykanti Facebook page.

Turu buru

Laimas muzykanti


Track listing:

  1. Bandenieka rudzi
  2. Cauri guoju
  3. Lakstīgala
  4. Viejeņš Pyute
  5. Kaņepītes
  6. Laiva
  7. Kokle
  8. Vasariņa
  9. Meitas Mala
  10. Dzaltoneite
  11. Jūras Māte
  12. Putni – feat. Ieva Akuratere feat. EtnoZoom

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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