“ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD”
…A series of posts featuring an artist from a country that has topped the Vinyl Connection WordPress stats map for a particular period. You can read more about the project here, but essentially it’s an excuse to dig deeper into the collection and share some discoveries. This post is the 10th in the series, and it proved to be a real challenge.
It is with dismay I report not a single album by a Lithuanian musical act exists in the entire VC hoard. Embarrassing, really, and apologies are duly tended to Andrius Mamontovas, Alina Orlova, and the many other musicians I am poorer for not knowing.
What’s a blogger to do?
Go digital, of course.
But first, research.
Vinyl Connection regulars will know of our fondness for all things progressive in music. The estimable Progarchives website has vast amounts of data… you can find anything you want at the Progarchives restaurant. Or so I’m told.
What the site told me was that there is an electronic musician from Vilnius who releases digital albums of electronic music under the name Stellardrone. Here is what the brief Bandcamp bio says:
“Stellardrone is a pseudonym of amateur composer (Edgaras, b. 1987, Lithuania, Vilnius) who started creating music in 2007. Releasing all albums for free and promotes free sharing of digital copies.”
M. Stellardrone is no slacker. Since 2009 there have been eight titles plus two remix works. For a few US dollars I downloaded the two most recent: 2017 EP Between The Rings and the full-length album Light Years (2013).
The EP was my first port of call. The title Between The Rings has a nice Saturnalian feel and I was hoping for suitably spacey—perhaps even decadent—electronica. What we have is pretty pedestrian ambient chillout music. Pleasant, but repetitive and melodically unadventurous. Too many pieces are structured around a simple three or four note ascending or descending pattern; even space drifts need some kind of purpose. A high level of keyboard programming skill is apparent, but the ideas, like celestial bodies in the vastness of space, are far apart. Of the five tracks, my favourites were “Breathe in the light” which has a slightly spooky feel and a more woozy groove, and “Northern Lights” where a couple of different streams are arraigned against each other, producing moments of dissonance that capture the listener’s attention.
I’m delighted to report that Light Years, though created earlier than the EP, is light years ahead. Yes, the influences are clear… lots of Vangelis, a goodly dose of New Age stylings, some sections that strongly suggest ex-Camel keyboard player Pete Bardens’ solo work. But there is more variety in the sonic palette, with enough changes of texture to separate the tracks, one from another. Opening piece “Red giant” glides forwards gently, insinuating a simple ambient melody into the traveller’s head, slowly and with a certain gravitas. “Airflow” sees the addition of electronic percussion, the pattering not the battering kind, while “Eternity” has me thinking that I must book an appointment with my massage therapist, although this piece almost does the job in a suitably socially distant way. I enjoyed the Vangelis bounce of “Comet Halley” while equally liking the Tangerine Dream like ambience of “Ultra Deep Field”. As I said, the variety here makes this album a most enjoyable listen. Nothin’ wrong with homage when it’s done well.
It is not at all easy to make one’s mark in the field of modern electronica, yet Edgaras Zakevičius is a talented synthesiser player and for those (like me) who love some ambient space drifts and cascading sequencers in the late evening, Stellardrone is worth checking out. I’ll certainly try a couple more of his albums and who knows? If Lithuania tops the chart of visitors to Vinyl Connection again, we might be rockin’ over Lithuania once more. Very gently.
Got a favourite Lithuanian artist? Please share.
Perhaps you are a visitor from the Baltic. Welcome, and do say ‘Hello’!