Album review: AVaspo ‘Kraujuojantis Okeanas / Ocean is Bleeding’

2013-05-21, 12:21

Gabrielė Šadzevičiūtė / Translation by: Nida Šereikaitė

It has been just a short while since the birth of the third album by Avaspo bathed in the melting snow rivers of March. One could symbolically call The Ocean is Bleeding a reincarnation of the previous album No Ocean, but only partially – due to the similarity of the name and, of course, the lingering themes of human existence and instinctive world view in the creative works of Gabrielė Labanauskaitė. And if we go back to the second album Niagara a surprising wide spectrum of musical forms opens up in front of us, which is a very important aspect trying to appraise the oeuvre of a performer. Nobody can deny that this quality is innate, dominant and essential for AVaspo.

AVaspo Ocean is bleeding cover by Dovile Puzinaite

The debut of AVaspo was back in 2009, when the band released their album No Ocean. In it the listener could notice a rather strong, dark, trip-hop style instrumentation, sometimes complemented with noise effects or (for instance in the song „Post card to Alaska“) the synthesis of avant-garde poetry, electronic music and grotesque trills of keyboard.  The second release Niagara from the very first  sounds  shines as a snake, which has just shed its skin – crisp reefs of electric guitar, the dialogue of  synthesizers creates the atmosphere of space-rock and the vocals are left unmodified unified with natural instrumental parts. Niagara even now stands out in the discography of AVaspo, due to the fact that the new creation The Ocean is Bleeding is returning to colder, minimalistic forms of electronics which are complemented by the arctic illustrations by Dovilė Puzinaitė on the album cover.

Starting with the concept for The Ocean is Bleeding, the vocalist and text author G.Labanauskaitė has as well mentioned to the press that nature and its elements are her inspiration and one of the main themes both in the new album and in the whole musical  self-expression. In the first song „If you‘re walking backwards“the fading evening windows in the urban jungle of the city become the metaphor of sad human eyes (which is amplified by the sounds of tribal electronics) and walking backwards (the incorrect walking back as a perverted human relation with nature) leads North, where the polar bears watch television like in a ghastly surrealistic painting.

A similar message is encoded in the song „Bison“ – while hundreds of bison are running by the windows later on to be changed by giraffes and dinosaurs, the rumbling of their steps travels miles, but the spaced-out man just drinks his tea in the sitting room and turns up the radio, not hearing „the things that really matter“. Here the modern everyday life of a human being intersects and is hardly compatible with the frail nature. Nature itself is unbelievable and spectacular, but modern day human is still more mesmerized by technology and invention, which boosts his ego and creates the illusion of being the master of the universe while at the same time he is completely helpless faced with the mighty elements. „Soul tourism“expresses a though that we travel the world not by trains or airplanes, but by our thoughts and inner energy. It is possible that this kind of relation between human beings and the nature is what the world lacks the most – one must not bind himself in a set of ecological rules and requirements, but experience the nature emphatically.

With every album AVaspo was different – some members left, others joined. This snake is meant to constantly shed its skin. Most of the listeners, who heard the last album of AVaspo or went to a few recent performances will have to agree that the strands of electronic sound created by Gediminas Žygus (a.k.a. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf), who joined the band a year ago, have grown strong and convincing. If the rhythmic composition and effects in the first album were gently labeled as trip-hop by the critics, then in The Ocean is Bleeding these structures vary from ambient murmurs („To nowhere“, „The Ocean is Bleeding“, „With a knife“) to pulsing chill wave loops and even dark lurid witch house synthesizers („Soul tourism“, „Bison“).

Some music performers are valued by a specific progress or regress they experience in their careers, some – by the moods and ideas captured in their recordings. AVaspo are unique and can not be measured just by one scale – technically the collective remains strong, the moods (ideas) are expressed through the poetry of G. Labanauskaitė, which, as have been mentioned before, was always stable, loyal to the same values and ideals. So what would be the most appropriate criteria to evaluate AVaspo? The element of surprise, experiment, game? Could be. After all a „snake bite is unpredictable“.