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Written in fRoots issue 280, 2006

Ne Uz Vienu Dienu Ė Not For Just One Day

Upe UPE CD 069 (2006)

With the restrictions of life in the former Soviet Union and the big changes since Latvia and the other Baltic states bailed out of it, it hasnít been easy to bring the insistent, narrow-compass minimalist melodies of Latvian traditional music to a world stage. Ilgi, led by singer-fiddler Ilga Reiznice and Māris Muktupāvels, player of kokles, bagpipe and other traditional instruments, have been working on it throughout that period, and itís been a long road, including collaboration with Ainars Mielavsí rock band Jauns Mēness, line-up changes and set-toughening US touring.
      In this set of songs of courtship and marriage, rich with nature imagery and sun, god and goddess references, the quintet (the others contributing vocals, guitar, trough fiddle, mandolin, domra, balalaika, bass and percussion) is joined for a track each by Ugandan Samiteís kalimba and voice and Marc Fedderís banjo, but in general the album, while probably Ilgiís strongest yet, isnít radically different in sound from its immediate predecessors. Except, that is, for the much heftier than usual, hypnotically guitar-churning, bass-bowing, bagpipe-squealing incantatory track Dej, Eglite, Lec, Eglite (Fir Tree Is Dancing), a sudden leap into Hedningarna-like territory that might be the one that caught the ears of European world music DJs and propelled the album into the European World Music chart. The packaging too, as usual with releases on Mielavsís Upe label, is eye-catching.
Itís available online, for a remarkably reasonable price, from www.upe.lv, and three full tracks are listenable there too.

© 2006 Andrew Cronshaw

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