Having seen various videos of Gintas K’s improvisations, involving a keyboard and a dusty old Lenovo ThinkPad running some custom software, it’s apparent that his approach to composition is nothing if not unusual, and it’s matched by the results.
His Crónica debut, Lengvai / 60 x one minute audio colours of 2kHz sound was sixteen years ago, and his return to the label is a very different offering, although as has been a common factor throughout his career, Lėti – Lithuanian for slow – consists of comparatively short pieces – and here, the majority are four minutes long or less. Less is more, and what’s more, Gintas K invariably manages to pack more into a couple of minutes than many artists do in half an hour. Here, we have a set of eleven short pieces ‘created from recording and improvising in studio followed by extensive mixing and editing using software.’ There’s no more detail than that: some artists accompany their releases with essays explaining the creative process and the algorithms of the software and so on, but Gintas K simply leaves the music for the listener to engage with and to ponder.
Where Lėti is something of a departure is in the emphasis on the editing and mixing of the material and the fact that, as the title suggests, the arrangements are a little more sedate. The signature crackles and pops, chines and static are all present and correct, but there’s a sense of deliberation as we’re led through ethereal planes of delicate chimes and tinkling tones that resonate and hang in the air, drifting in open expanses, with time and space to reverberate and slowly decay. With this more measured feel, melodies become more apparent, with simple motifs, repeated, giving ‘Hallucination’ a sense of structure and, I suppose you might actually say ‘tune’.
It isn’t that Gintas’ works lack tunefulness as such, but that any tune is surrounded by froth and extranea, and so much is going on it’s often hard to miss. Listening to Lėti is a fairly calm, even soothing experience, at least for the most part, conjuring a mood of reflection, of contemplation. The album’s longest piece, the seven-minute ‘Various’ brings a dense wave of sound that surges and swells slowly like a turning tide. There’s almost a stately grandeur to it, but then, there’s a rattling kind of a buzz that’s something of a distraction, and a glitch that nags away and seems to accelerate. These little headfucks are quintessential Gintas K, and Lėti isn’t all soft and sweet: ‘Savage’ brings thick, fuzzing distortion and discomfort.
The flurries of sound, the babble of bubbling bleeps and bloops that are his standard fare are slowed to sparse, irregular drips in a cave on ‘Variation’, and the application of reverb is impressively nuanced, to the point that the reverbs almost become music in their own right. ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Ambient’ are appropriately titled, while ‘Nice Pomp’ would comfortably serve as a soundtrack to a slow-motion film of a moon landing or somesuch, and again none of the pieces are without depth or detail, as the layers and slivers of sound that intersect create so much more than mere surface.
Lėti is a genuinely pleasant and pleasurable listening experience, but is most certainly isn’t straightforward or simple in what it delivers. There are many sonic nuggets to unearth, and so many tones and textures along the way, that what is, superficially ‘less’ is, in actual fact, a whole lot more. Christopher Nosnibor