Post-neofolk stories from Lithuania: OBŠRR record “Patogi Gelmė”

OBŠRR – one of those Lithuanian projects, which you cannot see live very frequently (last live performance was couple of years ago?), but most of the time each of their recordings are nothing  less than truly precise, deep and overall amazing piece of art.  First time I got interested in this project was after I heard a song named “Carnival” (“Karnavalas” in Lithuanian):

About 60 percent of the magic from this song is hidden in the lyrics, so in a way it is not very “exportable”, but that’s what makes it even more special for those, who know the context. Resembling folk song for children, it tells a story about a forest animals and their festive activities during a New year carnival. Most of Lithuanian experimental music  has a deeper, archaic level in it, using themes from folk music, motifs from tribal drums and loops, which are usual in traditional Lithuanian singing. Repetition and themes about nature goes back to pagan times and in many different levels connect the nowadays scene with archaic origins of the sound itself (used on rituals for various occasions during pre-modern times), on the way  highlighting the fact, that Lithuania was the last country in Europe, which accepted Christianity. Of course, today paganism here converted to some version of New Age movement. But the idea about “last pagans” is still actively explored in metal scene (and many creators in Lithuania today ‘came’ to experimental/postindustrial music from metal).

To sum up – Lithuanian postindustrial/experimental music, consciously or not, is still deeply impacted by elements from paganism in a wider sense – it concentrates the untouched nature of the country, folk tradition and mixes these and other archaic elements while talking through modern electronic music. A great example of that is Mėnuo Juodaragis festival, which, during 15 years of existence, for the last weekend of each summer, unites most of the scenes –  metal, folk, neofolk, industrial electronics, noise, dark ambient and many others. People go there not only for precisely set up line-up, but also for undescribable “magic” of like-minded community, where everyone is so different and similar at the same time, connected by some “other” level of consciousness.

But enough about that and back to new release of OBŠRR. It saw the daylight in a cassette form, and a couple of days ago it was made accessible to all internet folks on bandcamp.

The title can be translated as “Comfortable Abyss/Deepness” (“Patogi gelmė”), it contains 8 tracks, which are based on lyrics from Lithuanian writers Sigitas Geda, R. Stankevičius and the lovable drunk Charles Bukowski. For the past couple of days, it was the most listened album in our household.

Track “Jeronimo naktis gegužės mėnesį” (“The May night of Hieronymus “) – some form of a ballad with slow-mo lambada motifs, lightly evolving to the drone-y ending.  Easiest to sing along, perfect to listen while stoned. Darker edges becomes more visible through the second track, “Antras gelmės ratas” (“Second wheel of the Abyss “). Mostly it uses vocals as an instrument, in the middle comes somewhere to the ambient/sound art territory, then comes back to industrial rythmic loops. “Tarpinės stotys. Nuomaris” (“Stations in-between. Weariness” – not much to say, connects nicely two tracks around it. “Valhala” – almost 9 minutes of pure beauty with female vocals.

Side B starts with “Tarpinės stotys. Koma” (“Stations in-between. Coma”) – soundscapes with a right amount of disharmony among music  and singing. At some point forgets all about the lyrics and strikes with noisy wall, sharpened with drumming. “Kūno mazgojimas” (“Cleansing of the Body”) somewhat reminds one of the most notable Lithuanian projects, Vilkduja (and I believe that the vocalist and leader of Vilkduja probably was singing here). Overall great, I adore Vilkduja:). “Dauguma” (“Most of Them”) emphasizes the lyrics, accompanied by piano, is followed by “Pabaiga” (“The End”) – instrumental piece of drone, doom and darkness.

Overall, the album is precisely balancing among the story and sound, including various influences and bringing up a need to listen it over and over again. It is quite different from OBŠRR’s earlier works (style named as, and I quote, “neofolka-neopolka”) – a bit darker, a bit noisier, and having way less carnival feeling it in. But somehow I do not have any complaints about that. For the end, live performance of a song “Buratino” (“Pinnochio”) from a couple of years ago:

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3 responses to “Post-neofolk stories from Lithuania: OBŠRR record “Patogi Gelmė”

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