Underground Sounds: Ugniavijas – Ten, kur krisim

Label: Dangus
Band: Ugniavijas
Origin: Lithuania

In the wide fields of Lithuania an ancient people once lived, who were known by many tribe names. The Yotvingians, Aukstaitians, Skalvians, Curonians and the warrior tribe of the Samogitians dwelt in these ancient lands. Being the last part of Europe to be Christened in 1413 finally, by their Grand Duke Vytautas, the nation has a devout dedication to Christianity, but somehow it’s never fully Christian.

For centuries Lithuanians have gone to the forests, building their crosses and little altars in semblance of the Christian figures. Still the altars and holy places remained and recently the old ways have reemerged in a way that is surprisingly big and up to date. Perhaps the pillars of the ancient tradition are just so clear that it isn’t hard to bring them to this day and age. Music is a huge part of that and Ugniavijas brings that to life in a way that feels authentic and sort of hauntingly fitting.

Though they claim to sing war songs, as shown by their previous record ‘Karo Dainos’ (War Songs), they don’t sound brutal or so, but like beautiful harmonies of male vocal singing. ‘Ten, kur krisim’ (Where we will fall) is a captivating journey through the ages. The uncanny tone and unusual timbre keeps you listening to songs like ‘Kai aš jojau ant vainos’, where the language itself determines the sound. The chanting is flat, tribal and focussed on the rhythm.

Boisterous singing is th emain part, but traditional instruements fill up the sound to a complete experience. Bagpipes and the well known kanklės are very present, but also more of those hypnotic instruments like the lumzdelis. It oozes into a mystical experience of bold men braving the field of battle against those that try to take what is dearest to them. Home, hearth and gods.

Though the words are difficult to understand, this is the sort of music that is typical for the old Balts. Emotional, full of vigor and with a sense of fatality. None lives forever, but the harmonie of life, the bravery, it makes sacrifices a noble thing and that is what you can find in the music.

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