Don’t Lose Your Way at “Skaņu mežs” – See What the Regulars Recommend

Don’t Lose Your Way at “Skaņu mežs” – See What the Regulars Recommend
During the past twelve years, “Skaņu mežs” annual festival for adventurous music and related arts has become an autumnal fixture in the cultural life of Riga. This year the festival is part of the “Thirst for the Ocean” thematic line of the “Riga 2014” Programme, exploring the latest as well as historic innovative music, with the emphasis on extreme computer music, free improvisation, electro-acoustics, experimental dance music, avant-garde pop, and audiovisual performances. What to look forward to at the two concert nights of “Skaņu mežs” on the 10th and 11th of October – the festival’s regular visitors recommend.

Martin Wheeler
Film score composer, the winner of 2014 César Award for Best Music Written for a Film with the score for the film “Michael Kohlhaas”

The first time I came to Riga was over ten years ago when I was there for a few days working on a short film. At that time I met Viestarts Gailītis. I am a studio based composer and don’t usually play very many live shows, but when Viestarts started “Skaņu mežs” he asked me if I would like to play there, and since I had had such a wonderful time in my short time in Riga, I agreed. I think that it was the second edition of “Skaņu mežs”. I played a second time a couple of years after that, and really had fun playing at the festival, but I also thought that the programming was excellent and met a lot of very wonderful people there. Since then I have been coming back rather regularly, both to check out the festival (where, in addition to hearing great live shows from people I already know, I always seem to discover some new and interesting music) and also, at the same time, to hook up with the many friends that I have made over the years. I have really become very fond of Riga, and if I am able to get away, then I always try to make it to “Skaņu mežs”.

This year the programme seems particularly concentrated, with perhaps a little more of an “improvised music” slant than in previous years, possibly due to the apparently increasing influence of Mister Rihards “The Beard” Endriksons.  Personally, I’m particularly looking forward to Keith Fullerton Whitman whose live modular electronics sets are fantastic, plus all of the improvised stuff (and especially my man Phil Minton), but also the more rhythmic electronic acts: “Monolake”, “Innode”, Andy Stott. But seriously, the whole program looks excellent. Bring it on!

Domas Kunčinas
Lithuanian music journalist, editor at the “” portal, member of the “Dr. Green” band

Portal “” is a long-time partner of “Skaņu mežs” festival. We’d visited the event for the first time seven years ago.

“Skaņu mežs” is special for the interesting, as they say adventurous, line-up as well as unexpected and new venues each year. The latter is a nice way to find out new places in Riga. In general, that creates a peculiar match for the unforgettable audiovisual experience. Each year there is a balance between well-known names and new discoveries, between academic and experimental.

This year our highlights are legendary Blixa Bargeld from “Einsturzende Neubauten”, Robert Henke from “Monolake” and his “Lumiere” project, “Xeno & Oaklander” duo, also “Gas of Latvia” and Katrīna Neiburga’s collaboration. Of course, I’m prepared for new horizons and usually “Skaņu mežs” shows them.

Lauris Kļaviņš
Public relations expert and a music lover

This year “Skaņu mežs” will have a very solid programme, it’s not easy to single out some particular performers. But I’m not a fan of avant-garde and free jazz, so I’ll skip on these artists.

Blixa Bargeld is definitely a must-see – this artist is like a valuable artefact that speaks for himself, both literally and figuratively. An icon for an entire generation, at some point he symbolised the radical, destructive, and uncompromising approach to music and creativity. As decades passed by, the former apologist of industrial punk music became a pleasant, neatly dressed German gentleman, whose charisma is so great that he can afford to entertain the public by performances based on simple recordings of his voice. By the way, “Einstuerzende Neubauten” have reunited and are back in the studio, and their new composition, dedicated to the start of World War I, will have its premiere in the Belgian city of Diksmuide in one month.

The performance by Marissa Nadler, a dream folk musician who may seem a bit out of place at the festival, is actually something much more than a show by “yet another” singer-songwriter who has recently risen to popularity. There are a lot of influences in Marissa’s music, but it is her talent and individuality that make her so unique as compared to hundreds and thousands of other singer-songwriters.

Andy Stott is a product of the gloomy urban romanticism of Manchester. Inspired by techno and dub scenes, Andy Stott writes deep and highly nuanced music that is equally enjoyable on the dance floor as well as on the couch in your living room. I’m fascinated by the intricate ways how he expertly fuses intelligent dance music with dub-techno and breakbeats. Really, really cool.

One of the things to see during the concert on Saturday is the Latvian experimental music programme. “Gas of Latvia” will perform at “Skaņu mežs” again this year, presenting new material created in collaboration with visual artist Katrīna Neiburga. This performance will remind us that we don’t live beyond time and space, and we can meet some of the most up-to-date music being created here, in Riga or Preiļi, if we follow our intuition. Thanks to their unpretentious and prolific creativity, “Gas of Latvia” have become a cornerstone in the history of Latvian music (including contemporary music), expanding the definitions of electronic, industrial, and folk music.

“Skaņu mežs” also brings to Riga one of the “exiles” – Mārtiņš Strautnieks a.k.a Martinez Gonzalez, whose show is called “Hypnos” and said to explore the unconscious. Mārtiņš is one of the most talented electronic music composers from the new generation, his rich musical material offers the listeners to take mental and spiritual journeys and experience something they have never experienced before.

As reported, this year “Skaņu mežs” is part of the “Thirst for the Ocean” thematic line of the “Riga 2014” Programme. This year’s festival takes place at the “Daile” Music Hall, Kr. Barona iela 31.

The concert on the 10th of October begins at 8 p.m.

Order of performance
If, Bwana
Okkyung Lee
Keith Fullerton Whitman
Wadada Leo Smith, John Edwards, Mark Sanders
Marissa Nadler
Phil Minton & Audrey Chen
Insect Ark

The concert on the 11th of October begins at 8 p.m.

Order of performance
Blixa Bargeld solo vocal performance
Robert Henke (a.k.a Monolake) – Lumière
Gas of Latvia + Katrīna Neiburga
Andy Stott
Xeno & Oaklander
Hypnos a.k.a Martinez Gonzalez


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