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Formed with the intention of playing a single performance at an audio visual exhibition curated by contemporaries NSRD, 19 gadi pirms sākuma developed into one of the most delicate, intriguing groups in Latvia’s 1980s and early 1990s music scene. After their first (and in their minds only) performance, a pair of music journalists from Berlin asked for a copy of their non-existent album, prompting the group to continue their musical journey.
Part of a totally DIY scene flourishing through the cracks of the Soviet Union, the group chose instruments based on emotion and availability, often borrowing gear from colleauges for recording.
They laid down four tracks, one of which, "Singapūras Vējš", appears on this compilation. Listening to it now, the frantic synths, percussion and Rubene’s vocal reveal the urgency of the time. The momentum of youth enlivened by the possibilities of the future. Fragility exists in the music, especially in the vocals, yet it is swept up in the energy of the moment.
Things continued to move quickly for the group. Shortly after that first recording session they were invited to play West Berlin’s Transmission Festival, sharing the stage with the likes of Einsturzende Neubauten.
On their next visit to the studio, they laid down five tracks, "Die Wilde Frau", "Ruhig", "Kurmja deja", "Nikni Zvēri", "Pāri upei", all of which are present on this compilation.
When listening to them now, it’s remarkable how unique 19 gadi pirms sākuma’s music sounds. Seemingly disparate acoustic and synthetic sounds orchestrated into swooning, surreal songs. Elements of minimalism combined with synth pop and echoes of folk melodicism.
Much like their contemporaries and collaborators NSRD, 19 gadi pirms sākuma’s music captures frustration with their own reality, and a playful drive to make up a new one.
Patrick says: Lovely archival action from Stroom here, detailing the experimental and emotional music of 19 Gadi Pirms Sakuma. Inspired by snatches of Arvo Part, Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, but isolated from the wider musical world, the Latvian group playfully sought their own sound, a coldwave fusion of organic and electronic elements which still sounds unique.
A1. Pari Upei
A4. Niknie Zveri
B1. Nakts Ir Mana Zemapzina
B2. Singapuras Vejs?
B3. Kurmja Deja
B. Die Wilde Frau