Ewa Liebchen plays music from afar

I don’t know Lithuanian music very well. Of course, I have records by the excellent free jazz label No Business, and I am familiar with the work of artists like Gintas K or Arturas Bumsteinas or the Lithuanian founder of Apartment House – Anton Lukasevietze.
I even set up Anton’s concert in Warsaw once, as a part of Bocian Night and he did perform Lithuanian composers. That was great !!!
But I have serious doubts how much you can get to know the music of a certain country during such a repertoire event,
Secondly doubt is that all the mentioned artists are rather a part of an international group than, as it seems to me, are assigned to one place, about which one could say, for example, that ‘Kaunas is a place of experiments’ and ‘Vilnius has a rather strong background in free forms’. Do you know what I am talking about?
After all, where the hell are some records I could buy?
At one time Bolt released an series called ‘New music in Eastern Europe’.
Some of the first CDs in this series were more than a decade ago, releases by exactly Lithuanian composers ‘Cheap of Language’ by Arturas Bumsteinas and ‘Ancient Songs’ by Antanas Jasenko.
Now 2022 sees the release of ‘Dizzy Divinity’ by flutist Ewa Liebchen.
This is another of her albums for Bolt. In my opinion, she is always a performer who takes a holistic approach to her works.

Photo: Paweł Stolarczyk

Ewa Liebchen with support of Bôłt pay attention to the work of the last of the composers, whose monograph  ‘Glimmer‘  was recorded by the duet Fluteoclock (2016).
Her next and again very expressive release on Bôłt is the album ‘Electric sheep’ (2018) The theme of the album, which has in its title a passage from a quote from a Philip K.Dick book, is the relationship between man and machine. Hence the high proportion of electronics, looping, repetitiveness. The artist even reaches for the Kraftwerk song ‘Ruckzuck’. As an aside, the same piece was later covered by the zeitkratzer group.

With great regularity this artist releases her albums, although I have to say that I can’t say much about the next one ‘Good Night Górecki’ because I haven’t heard it.
Finally, we have this flutist’s fourth album, ‘Dizzy Divinity’.
The album no longer features the guests we could listen to on previous releases. There are no Polish composers either.
This CD consists of three works: 1. Horatio Radulescu – Dizzi Divinity, I (1985) , 2. Rytis Mažulis – Svarstyklės (2021), 3. Juste Janulyte Psalms (2008, vers. 2021).
It seems to me that this is one of the most progressive records in Bôłt roster.
So what is it that makes there something special about this music that sets it apart from the hundreds of other contemporary music records that tons of smaller or ‘serious’ labels are producing these days?

In fact, things become clear after the first few moments when playing this music.
There is something very mysterious and captivating about these sounds. There are sounds which remind me of a concert of improvised music (I don’t know how much of it is a strict composition and how much the composer allows freedom of performance).
This music simply seduces the listener with its clarity, lucidity and the clear, extremely slow tempo of the transformation of the material, as in gloomy drone music. On top of all this, we can literally physically hear the flutist’s every breath, and all this is done without any electronic overlay.
It’s interesting how so many equal instrumental techniques can be accommodated in one piece and all the while “only” by changing
in the intensity of the blowing to the flute!
I think that in this sense I like the music chosen by Ewa Liebchen on this album because it reminds me very much of my first experience as a listener of such music, which I discovered thanks to the American flutist Robert Dick, who recorded a series of great albums with different repertoire – from the rock music ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ (ed. New World Records, 1993), through the … classic repertoire of “Ladder Of Escape 5” (Attaca, 1991) to the absolutely smashing solo album “Venturi Shadows” (OO Disk, 1991), which I was fortunate enough to get to know last in the mid-90s and which I consider total music.
Well, after this digression with Robert Dick, who I associated (not for the first time) after listening to Ewa Liebchen’s records, I return to “Dizzy Divinity” album.
Second track is a composition of Rytis Mažulis – Svarstyklės.
This opening is a multiplying, ‘rising’ and repeating mill-like sound. This chase goes on for nearly 30 minutes but not for a moment did I feel tired listening to it.
You just completely lose track of time. This piece, which is probably exhausting for the performer, is followed by a breather and a wonderful ascetic piece of extraordinary beauty called Juste Janulyte.
I’ve written a lot about Robert Dick here, and just as he was certainly inspired by minimal and perhaps the atmosphere of downtown jazz, here I hear the performer taking the listener on a journey through the various streets of the modern city. At times it fills you with reverie and at other times it is a joyful, obsessive trance.
What is very important in this material and what connects all these pieces is the incredible saturation of colours in each composition. They may differ in atmosphere and be a bit kaleidoscopic, but they seem to be perfectly written for this instrument and convey an extraordinary beauty and richness of sound.
I can listen to Ewa Liebchen for flutes and electronics or just acoustic flutes – the result is always the same.
That is why in the first place – a concert, then an album and finally streaming. Because the difference is quite big.


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