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The best albums of 2020. A (very subjective) review. PART I, Lithuania

This year, 2020, was an interesting one. New circumstances because of the novel virus. I’m glad that many musicians took them as a challenge and released even better albums than they did before. It’s not possible to remember all possible good songs, albums and names of musicians that I got to acknowledge within this year, but I have to admit: they were many.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2020 m. Gruodžio 27 d., 12:13
Skaityta: 228 k.
Cover art of „Sėja (XII)“ by GIRNŲ GIESMĖS.
Cover art of „Sėja (XII)“ by GIRNŲ GIESMĖS.

I’ll begin with my native country, Lithuania. During the last twelve months, there were good news (albums, songs and plans) from many interesting musical bands and projects (their styles can vary from various kinds of rock, electronic, folk and metal):

ANDRIUS MAMONTOVAS, NĖRIUS A. PEČIŪRA, KARDIOFONAS, GEDIMINAS DAPKEVIČIUS, AMBER ICONS, ADAS (ADAS GECEVIČIUS), SUBLIMATION (ZITA VILUTYTĖ ET AL.), GIRIŲ DVASIOS, CANDEE TRAIN, ŽALVARINIS, KANDIS, PRAJAPATII, THUNDERTALE, ANDAJA, NOJUS, JURGA, MONIKA LIU, ROBERTAS SEMENIUKAS, BIPLAN, ANTIKVARINIAI KAŠPIROVSKIO DANTYS, NARATYVINIS 100 G ALKOBILIS, FANARAI, VĖJŲ TEATRAS, SAULIUS SPINDI, AUTISM, SEMĂNAT, VILKDUJA, LUCTUS, MARTS, STUDIO MARUKO, SOLO ANSAMBLIS, KAMANIŲ ŠILELIS, THE ROOP, UMIKO KOTORI, SHISHI, BA., BERSERKER, KAZIMIERAS LIKŠA, CULTOR, ŠVENTINIS BANKUCHENAS, PALIEKANT ŽEMĘ, ROMUVOS, VILNIAUS ENERGIJA, JUODVARNIS, SINSTATION, TAMSIS, INGAJA, COLOURS OF BUBBLES, TRANSACTIONS, HAPPYENDLESS, URAGANIUS, GIEDRIUS NAKAS, LUKAS NORKŪNAS, BLACK WATER, BALTASIS KIRAS, ABUDU,

and some more.

If you are into Lithuanian music, you should definitely find these names (if you don’t know them yet). You won’t be disappointed.

Now let’s turn to some darker and deeper music. This year, talking about such music, has started with good releases. On the very first day of the year, SOVIJUS (http://www.radikaliai.lt/garsas-sound/2845-sovijus) released its fifth album 洗心 (Japanese for senshin, washing heart; https://sovijus.bandcamp.com). This is an ambient/modern classical/industrial/experimental music project by Ramūnas Peršonis-Munis (Moonis). He’s one of the members of famous black/folk metal bands POCCOLUS, HA LELA and ZPOAN VTENZ, which released important albums back in 1996-1998. POCCOLUS re-released its seminal album this year as double LP and CD (http://www.radikaliai.lt/garsas-sound/4779-poccolus-poccolus-review-while-the-lithuanian-pagan-fires-burn).

Also, SALA should be mentioned separately. This experimental/ambient/drone/ritual/fieldrecording project from Utena town is based on three personalities: Audrius Šimkūnas-Alas23, R. Peršonis-Munis and Vasha Dadaya-Portas, but aided by several additional members during the live performances. SALA is as mysterious as it can be: from 1995 it released numerous albums and evolved through various musical stances. You can find 16 albums of SALA (2012–2020) on bandcamp (https://sala.bandcamp.com/music), but I also would recommend to search for older ones, especially if you are into COIL. Audrius Šimkūnas-Alas23 is also a master of field recordings: both in nature and in anthropocene (often abandoned or strange objects). This year, SALA has released three albums.

Another great band from Lithuania, SIELA (also from Utena town; http://www.radikaliai.lt/garsas-sound/4649-grupe-siela-30-metru-vetroje), which for more than 30 years plays original gothic rock mainly with Lithuanian lyrics, has a unique side-project BESSONNITSA (Russian for insomnia). The project was started in 2013, and during the longest night each year it releases a new song sung in Russian with poems of Marina Tsvetaeva. According to SIELA’s lyder Aurelijus Sirgedas, after two years BESSONNITSA will have ten songs and will release its first LP.

Another musician from Lithuania should be mentioned: PIEVOS from Rokiškis town. It played neofolk/folk rock and released four impressive albums in 1997-2016 (https://virginijapievos.bandcamp.com/album/paprastas-pasaulis). This February, band’s leader Virginija Skeirienė released her first solo album as VIRGINIJA PIEVOS, called „Tolumėla“ (https://virginijapievos.bandcamp.com/album/tolum-la-3).

All forementioned bands and projects combine experiments with Lithuanian traditions, folk rock, black metal, gothic rock. I would like to add many more bands and projects, but will stay with some more which I also consider the best and which released albums this year:

GINC (Gintas Gascevičius, drummer and percusionist of legendary rock band BIX), „Oneirologija“ (http://www.radikaliai.lt/garsas-sound/4842-grupes-bix-bugnininkas-gintas-gascevicius-arba-tiesiog-ginc-pristato-nauja-videoklipa-apie-sapnus-oneirologija-graik-oneiros-sapnas-logos-mokslas);

DAINA DIEVA, „Budynės“ and „Betylės erdvės“ (drone/ambient);

VĖLU, „Šlovė“ (drone/noise; this is one of many projects of LAURYNAS JUKONIS, also known as GIRNŲ GIESMĖS, NULIS, ORO!ORO!, SVAIXT, SIEMPRE NO; he also played in legendary Lithuanian black metal band ANUBIS);

SAULIUS PETREIKIS „Sekma ryta“, „Live at Tamsta“, „Samogits“ (world music/folk), https://sauliuspetreikis.bandcamp.com;

TYKUMOS „Grynas takas“ (https://open.spotify.com/album/5pQvWnmGFLdCC2d6e8a9el?highlight=spotify:track:7623x3a0ci5OXa7WQoppjP).

The latter one, which is a debut album, is a collaboration by two well-known musicians Kristijonas Lučinskas (DRIEZHAS) and Donatas Bielkauskas (DONIS, d.n.s., EIRIMĖ, HA LELA, NOTANGA, WEJDAS, ESATIS, GYVATA).

And last, but not the least:

- GINTAS K (Gintas Kraptavičius; pioneer of Lithuanian industrial music as MODUS) should be praised for his productivity and memorable sound experiments. This year, he released four albums: „Sound & Spaces“, „Amnesia“, „extensions“, „Portraitzine“.

- DARIUS ČIUTA (NAJ, BALTIC FLOUR MILLS), a composer of experimental music (and an architect, sometimes called an architect of music) from Kaunas city. He has released an uncountable number of both solo albums and collaborations, just pick up one and listen (for example, this one, released in 2020 – https://thtimepeace.bandcamp.com/album/o-2).

- AGAMA TIRTHA (ritual/tribal, ambient), a mysterious band/project which has released its debut album „Kecak" in 2016 (https://www.pakartot.lt/project/agama-tirtha). This year, the project presented track „21 Ordeal“ to compilation „The Lockdown Tapes“ (Feed Me Glass Records / Laptop Hooligans, https://feedmeglassrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-lockdown-tapes).

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