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Gintas K, "13 Tracks"

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Lithuanian conceptual artist and performer Gintas Kraptavicius manipulates minimal digital sources and acoustic vibrations in the service of narrative rhythms and electro-acoustic wand waving. Rather than merely barricading himself behind walls of atmospherics, Kraptavicius uses his tools to explore sound in ways that are both unpredictable and inviting.



This is not to say that there aren't austere or abrasive moments on 13 Tracks. In fact, the album has plenty of them. Yet Kraptavicius' methodology disarms rather than alienates, favoring surprise over antagonism. "Nezinau Kas Tai" kicks off to an alarming start with an eruption of pummeling beats and raising pitches. The only thing keeping the tension at bay are the soft melodic drones shimmering in the background. The insistence eventually fades, replaced by what sounds like crinkling foil and bursts of air. The track ends shortly afterwards, mysteriously but unsentimentally vanishing mid-measure. Tricks like these are constant but without foreshadow, which is what makes them so effective.

Each song contributes something different without repeating any ideas from its predecessors. The music achieves a pleasant balance between rhythm and abstraction that revitalizes the ear and maintains interest the whole time. Even the song lengths differ drastically, ranging anywhere from the minute and a half of "Ritmas 100 Fonas" to the almost thirteen minutes of "Ka As Zinau." The latter starts with the patient beeps and bleeps of what could be medical equipment or other scientific measurement devices, supplemented by intermittent tests of an emergency broadcast system. While a bit sterile, it works as an effective palette cleanser before hollow beats and bursts of air wrestle over fields of mechanical crickets only to evolve into a pulse-driven razor wire crusade. The change is drastic but not incongruous.

Not every track is equally entertaining, but nothing wears out its welcome either. 13 Tracks isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but it has more than enough strange noises and turns regardless to make it a fun, worthwhile experience from beginning to end.




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