Various Artists - Zoom in 13 – New Music from Lithuania (CD MICL)

While listening to ‘Zoom in 13 – New Music from Lithuania’ I’m trying to figure out what it is about these songs that really speak to me? What is it about them that makes me want to play them again? What is it that makes me get drawn into their complex webs? I have never been to Lithuania. I have no Lithuanian friends, or I don’t think I do, and can probably count the number of Lithuanian’s I’ve met on both hands. However, this doesn’t stop me from being totally wrapped up with these songs. Then it dawns on me. That is the point dummy. Of course, you are excited by these six songs. They are fantastically written. The playing is second to none and they pack such an emotional punch it’s hard not to get swept away with them.  

Throughout ‘Zoom in 13 – New Music from Lithuania’ the music is glorious in its scope. Egigija Medeksaite’s ‘Sattva’ effortlessly merges traditional sounds, the accordion, with contemporary vibes. Albertas Navickas’ ‘Sunrise of the West’ is 11-minutes of sheer melancholy. It is in the final two tracks that the album really comes alive. ‘Chrysalis’ by Ruta Vitauskaite is the most immediate and enjoyable track on the album. There are portions that give you a glimpse of what a 1950s lounge music Bond score might sound like. The music has a playful vibe to it, but when you are least expecting it BAM Vitauskaite goes all avant-garde and everything is spinning, and nothing makes sense. Just as quickly as this discombobulation started, Vitauskaite straightens up and everything is back to being the right way round.  The second half is a more sombre affair with the final third grown darker and danker as it approaches the end. This is one of the most singular pieces of music I’ve heard in a while. It’s all there. Light/Dark. Joyous/Despondent.  

What ‘Zoom in 13 – New Music from Lithuania’ demonstrates is that the future of (classical) music in Lithuania is bright. These six composures may sound different. They are from a new school of musical thought where conventions of the past are rethought and configured for a modern age. They and are also brimming with ideas and melodies. ‘Chrysalis’ and ‘The Perseids’ are polar opposites. While one has a slightly jocular bounce to it, while the other is earnest and full of longing, they both capture a feeling of optimism. And optimism is exactly what we need now. NR

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