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Mon Apr 23 19:43:40 CEST 2012


Curated by Felix Kubin

Link: http://bit.ly/JhuG8g

UNDERGROUND http://bit.ly/kJ3Hra we take a closer look at Latvia's 
musical underground. Just like its neighbours Lithuania and Estonia, 
Latvia regained its full independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 as a 
result of the 'Singing Revolution'. The small country embarked on a new 
departure from several centuries of constant power shifts. Even today, 
Latvians are aware of the fragmented nature of their history: our secret 
umbrella agent in Riga dares to label this awareness an 'identity 
crisis' that seems to be easily extrapolatable to artistic life in the 
Republic. 'In a country with a population of just over two million, 
there's no room for underground movements on a large scale,' he adds. 
The small but active scene is starting to turn a page and break free of 
the stigmas that have plagued cultural life in Latvia for almost twenty 

'Spatial aspects of sound' play an important role in the works of 
Riga-based artists Martins Rokis and Kaspars Groshevs. For his 
installation 'Here, There, Nowhere', Groshevs recorded several 
instruments and other sound sources from various different angles in his 
flat, thus creating a spatial definition of his personal environment. In 
his music, Groshevs draws on sculpture, architecture and sound 
installation, mixing different media and both analogue and digital 
recording techniques. The focus is always on the content. His friend and 
colleague Martins Rokis has a similar approach, although his aesthetics 
and methods of sound creation are anchored in the digital realm. Rokis 
creates a set-up of sovereign particles that interact with each other, 
and moves them on the edge between control and de-control. In his 
compositions, the 'structure is always in motion and has no fixed 

The music of Andris Indans and Rostislav Rekuta is rooted in psychedelic 
synthesizer pop, early industrial music and nineties electronica. In the 
late eighties, the two musicians lived through the major political 
changes and the economic problems that followed. Indans maintains that 
this crisis was a very creative period for him. While he was still 
living with his parents, he tried to find a way of channelling his 
'teenage energy' and anger into the creation of music using 
'non-professional equipment'. While the emphasis on past technologies 
and aesthetics is apparent in the works of Indans and Rekuta, the music 
of younger artists like Kaspars Groshevs, Martins Rokis and Phonic 
Psychomimesis tends to be more conceptual and harder to classify.

Phonic Psychomimesis is a duo of two musicians who studied philosophy. 
Accordingly, their sonic output is conditioned by a certain set of rules 
or propositions against a background of humour and the absurd. Their 
music is often produced live, and recorded with just one microphone. 
Like most of the other artists in this documentary, Phonic Psychomimesis 
try to remain 'outside of Capitalism's moralistic dogma' and create 
music 'only out of an existential need'. In order to survive they rely 
on friends, family, and collaborations.

Collaboration seems to be a key word when it comes to bringing ideas to 
fruition in Latvia. Toms Auninsh, a former singer in metal bands who is 
now a theatre director, also considers collaborations to be of prime 
importance. Because of its small size, Latvia seems to make it easy to 
get in touch with artists working in other disciplines. Kaspars Groshevs 
has already worked with people who come from different backgrounds such 
as performance art, architecture, theatre, fashion and jewellery design: 
'Because there are not so many people here, you gradually get to know 
each other. So, you can meet somebody at a bar or concert, for example, 
and the next day you might have an amazing professional opera singer 
singing in your living room.'

Felix Kubin, 2012.03.15

Featured artists (in order of appearance)

Kaspars Groshevs – Riga (LV)
Martins Rokis – Riga (LV)
Phonic Psychomimesis – Riga (LV)
Sound Meccano (Rostislavs Rekuta) – Riga (LV)
Gas of Latvia (Andris Indāns) – Riga (LV)
Toms Aunins (Toms Auniņš) – Riga (LV)

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