Gintas K - Slow [ Baskaru - 2013]
Gintas Kraptavicius, abbreviated Gintas K, is an absurdly prolific electronic experimental composer from Lithuania, who operates within the hushed 'lowercase' idiom. "Slow" is one of 6 releases he put out in 2013. It contains 11 pieces averaging 4 minutes each.
Gintas K has set himself at the admirable and difficult task of making something beautiful using avant garde means. He attempts valiantly to extract feelings of domesticism and nostalgia from the sterile digital realm of digital processing artifacts, as accomplished most famously in the many works of Oval. This album in particularly reminds me often of Oval's masterpiece "O", which was a series of monophonic studies of string and guitar textures.
Despite the heavily processed nature of all sound found on the CD, there is always a circular chord progression dictating the structure of the various pitch stretching processes. The chime-like, generative melodies are much like Autechre's most ambient moments in recent years, but Gintas K's music is drastically sparser. He prefers to focus on one layer of sound at a time in each track, allowing the particular character of its texture and organization to sink in.
His approach on this album is heavily granular, as it seems we are always hearing blips and tiny fragmented 'granules' of quasi-melodic sound, arranged into arrhythmic cloudlike structures. The sound sources used are often unclear, but in a few instances guitars, voices and various rustlings and household sounds can be heard. Through the clever use of tuning software, Gintas K imbues even the toneless sounds with ringing harmonic resonances.
The most outwardly melodic pieces, "Dar" (the 1st one - there are two tracks titled 'Dar'), "Garsas", etc., are the best. In this moments they recall the moon bright melancholic tone of Coil's albums, or Tangerine Dream before them, in which the purity of the synthesizer arpeggios held the lunar energy. The chord progressions seem to shimmer with rain.
In "Dar (2)", a muffled flanged sound follows every note, like the artifacts that result from overuse of 'noise reduction' tools, or noise from a 'noise generator' plugin. While I've heard this sound many times during audio classes and speakers checks, I've never heard it placed in a musical context. At first it was hard to hear it for what it was, but I now appreciate it as an appropriate use for a normally 'cheap' and potentially grating texture.
The tone of the album is resigned yet peaceful. Perhaps the most straightforward track on the album, "Sdg", is also one of the effective, essentially an organ dirge atop a layer of white noise. After the emptiness and quietude of the album up to that point, its placement near the ending is quite satisfying. The actual closer, "Galasd", is fittingly muted, a heavily filtered dripping of water. It's perhaps the most relaxing piece.
If the album has a problem, it's lack of quality control and selectivity. Gintas K releases a massive number of records each year; certain types of musicians will always feel every fragment of sound recorded is somehow uniquely vital and individually important. Personally, I feel there are tracks on this album that have very little to sustain them, particularly in the first half, and that a more focused album experience could have been created. But then, the emptiness and the impromptu quality of the album sequence are also stylistic.
In the end, I don't feel it's quite on the level of Oval, or my favorite deep listening records, but there's certainly an electric sort of magic mood to the whole album that pleases me, and reminds me of Coil or Nocturnal Emissions. It's particularly good for late night listening when time seems to glide by. Recommended for serious fans of the lowercase thing, and labels like 12k, Line and Baskaru, who put out this disk. I wouldn't be surprised if I fall in love with another album by Gintas K at some point in the future.Josh Landry