"Ramblings" Vinyl Record by Composer Šarūnas Nakas Has Been Released
The cycle of nine vocal, instrumental, and electroacoustic pieces, Ramblings, a large part of which was written as music for the scandal-plagued drama play Literature Lessons by Jonas Vaitkus, was recorded in 1985 in the legendary Vilnius Record Studio, which at that time was very open to experiments. The recordings were made using a multi-channel tape recorder, a borrowed KORG synthesizer, saxophones, a prepared piano, a cello turned into a noisy bass, percussion, and bells. The composer used all the texts and the title for the cycle from the poetry collection Ramblings by Almis Grybauskas. According to the composer, this poetry is minor, cold, and laconic, like his favourite cool jazz style, while the title Ramblings itself raises a lot of questions, is a bit provocative and irritating.
After the premiere of the performance, the composer could have had a very bad ending – after "terrible" reviews and complaints appeared in the press, the Soviet censorship ordered the performance to be banned and the creators punished. Even the head of the composition department at the time suggested that this "cacophony" should be given the lowest grade, condemning Šarūnas Nakas to be expelled from the conservatoire, which would have meant being conscripted into the Soviet army during the Afghan war. Fortunately, professors Julius Juzeliūnas and Bronius Kutavičius saved their student.
It was the time of cassette tape recorders, and music was quickly reproduced, so Ramblings began its own journey, playing as background music on radio and television but never being published as a complete cycle. Later, only one piece called Merz-machine was singled out from the cycle as an example of Lithuanian experimentalism and released in 1997. It then underwent a kind of renaissance: versions were created for different ensembles, including the Czech avant-garde rock orchestra Agon and the London piano sextet pianocircus. The sextet has performed the work more than 100 times in dozens of countries.
In 2023, Ramblings will be released in full scope as a very limited edition vinyl record, produced at Darkroom Records cutting studio in Vilnius. To make the remastered machine sounds sound better on vinyl, they were processed by sound engineer Arkady Vikhorev during the air raids in Kyiv in 2022, and the design of the release was created by Liudas Parulskis. The texts were written by Šarūnas Nakas himself, but it is important to note that the traditional album annotation is not to be expected here.
Salomėja Jonynaitė – soprano
Vytautas Labutis – alto & tenor saxophone
Dainius Sverdiolas – synth
Vaclovas Augustinas – acoustic guitar, cello
Birutė Vainiūnaitė – piano
Julius Geniušas – voice, percussion
Romualdas Gražinis – voice
Tomas Juzeliūnas – voice
Šarūnas Nakas – voice, percussion
Lyrics: Almis Grybauskas
Sound engineer: Eugenijus Motiejūnas
Mastering: Artūras Pugačiauskas, Arkady Vikhorev
Graphic design: Liudas Parulskis
Producer: Radvilė Buivydienė
Supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.