Countryside Mantras

Vytautas V. Landsbergis
Kaimiečių mantros


1st CD:

01. Puta puta
02. Kalnie rugiai
03. Kai paverges as gulesiu
04. Sunes loja, kates moja
05. Parlek blazdinka
06. Kad ejau as keleliu
07. Oi marti marti
08. Kai mazas buvau
09. O jeigu as numirciau
10. Auga ant kalno
11. Devyni metai
12. Toje ulycioj
13. Is karcemeles
14. Pucineli raudonasai
15. Vai liuliu liuliu
16. Sedziui ant kranto1
17. Oi kad as jojau uliavojau
18. Pragyda gyda
19. Tupi pievoje lektuvas
20. Kur mano tetusis geria

2nd CD:

01. Oi tu saula saulula
02. Saulele raudona
03. Oi toli toli
04. Isvykstu as mama toli
05. Oi tu kleveli
06. Teka teka
07. Kai mes buvom du broliukai
08. Islek, sakuole
09. Oi gaidy gaidy
10. Gerkim gerkim
11. Salia kelio karcemele
12. Kas girelej trinktelej
13. Kaip gera, kaip man gera
14. Kas tau kaltas, panyta jaunoji
15. Vilioj pana sakaleli
16. Ir pajaugo zali liepa
17. Padovanok man sypsena, zeme
18. Ne del zalio vyno
19. Lek gerveli
20. Geriau aluti



 The first album titled Countryside Mantras (Kaimiečių mantros) was recorded in 2004 and consists of two CDs with 40 Lithuanian folk songs accompanied by a guitar. The songs are performed by Vytautas V. Landsbergis, Ramunė Landsbergienė and Regimantas Žitkauskas.

  “The major part of the album consists of folk songs and folk ballads that have always fascinated me. Some of them have a modern touch and may sound like romances, for which I apologise to the fans of pure folklore. The album also contains several authorial songs. And the last song I Drank Beer (Gėriau alutį) performed in Samogitian dialect is a soundtrack for a non-existing musical film. I created the arrangement together with the saxophonist Petras Vyšniauskas, while the voices were lent by the ethnographic band fronted by Evaldas Vyčinas...” speaks Landsbergis about his first album.
Juozas Žitkauskas

 (The works of Vytautas V. Landsbergis are marked by post-war resistance)

  (...)It is virtually the most important topic in his sung poetry. By looking back at this period of Lithuanian history, by showing interest in the life and songs of post-war partisans, Landsbergis distinguishes himself from the top 10 of Lithuanian bards. His songs about partisans can be heard in the film When I Was Little (Kai aš mažas buvau), the play Bunker (Bunkeris), as well as the CDs Countryside Mantras (Kaimiečių mantros, 2004), Dream (Sapnas, 2007) and Thirteen Brothers (Trylika brolių, 2009). Those who enjoy sung poetry, but have a narrow understanding of the genre, may question whether Landsbergis’ consistent efforts in promoting the topic of resistance are truly following the tradition of singing-songwriting. But I believe that in a broad sense Landsbergis’ works have a right to be considered singing-songwriting. He has enriched the genre with vivid reflections of Lithuanian folklore and even entire folk songs. I do not dare to claim that he is the only one to do so (as such claims might cause reasonable discontent of Algirdas Svidinskas from Kaunas Region), but the works of Landsbergis seem to be influencing other bards – young song-writers have been more and more frequently combining folk songs with the sounds of guitars and keyboards. And those are not necessarily the popular songs know to every pub crawler.

  How did Landsbergis start singing poetry? I must admit that I was surprised when Gediminas Storpirštis told me in early 2002 that Vytautas was going to perform in the Singer-Songwriter Website Concert in Vilnius Teachers’ House. I had known him as a poet, children’s author and filmmaker, but I had never heard him sing (although neither have I ever been a member of “Ratilis”, the folk band of Vilnius University, where Landsbergis had been singing for 15 years). He performed only a few songs in that concert headlined by Vytautas Kernagis. All of those songs were later included in his first CD Countryside Mantras. Since the 2002 show, he has attended all major Lithuanian singer-songwriter festivals and concerts accompanied by his wife Ramunė or Šiauliai-based composer Raimondas Rašpoliauskas.

  From 2004, fans of the genre can also enjoy Landsbergis’ songs from CDs. The Cruelly Beautiful Romances (Žiauriai gražūs romansai, 2005) will wine the heart and pluck a tear from any lover of folk ballads, while the Dream (Sapnas, 2007) will please the admirers of more conventional singing-songwriting.

  The CD Thirteen Brothers contains 12 songs, two of which were created by partisans, three are Lithuanian folk war songs, two were written by other poets (Vytautas P. Bložė and Alfonsas Nyka-Niliūnas) and the rest by Landsbergis himself. At the heart of the CD is the song Thirteen Brothers. In his interview to the news website www.bernardinai.lt, the author said: “A long time ago, I wrote a poem about thirteen brothers reflecting different stages of life from early childhood to the first love, to maturity, and to the transcendental exit. The poem rested as a certain code, but I always felt that it had to become a song. When it did, other songs joined in until there were 13. However one song was left unsung and thus there were 12 songs for 13 brothers.”

  The Thirteen Brothers is an exciting release with a good line-up that seems to be telling a single story. While the Cuckoo (Gegutė, lyrics by Bložė) speaks about the post-war period from the present, the other authentic partisan song Hey, Hawk (Ei, sakalėli) reveals the grim reality of the time through the dialogue between a partisan and a hawk. The songs are spiced with irony and hidden philosophical subtext:

God is lying on the roots,
A hitman tryin’ to nick his boots
God is smiling at the hitman’s deeds,
God is sorry for the hitman’s fleas

  The song can be frequently heard in Landsbergis’ personal shows and often makes the audience smile. The connection with the described historical period is reinforced by the sound of keyboards, flute and other instruments played by Rašpoliauskas, who has also arranged all the songs. The additional instruments also fill the album with lightness and hopefulness. According to Landsbergis, Rašpoliauskas brings the release closer to the main goal “to stop shedding tears for the painful period of our history and for the ranks of men who perished in Lithuanian forests; to stop crying and begin celebrating ourselves being the progeny of the fearless. (...) Through this song I wanted to reach that state of painlessness.”

  A few songs came to this album from the Countryside Mantras. But more loyal listeners may miss Vosilkos that was included in the earlier CD and performed during the presentation of the latter release in Vilnius Teachers’ House. The author mentioned then that not all partisan songs from the repertoire had made it to the new release. Hopefully they will make it into the next one.

  Vytautas V. Landsbergis is one of the authors whose melancholic songs are either loved or misunderstood. Melancholy is abundant in the new CD as well. However for the first group of listeners – including myself – this album is a tool for achieving harmony and comfort. I would recommend listening to the release from the beginning to the end, as it is a coherent work “pulling the listener from the first chords and words into a world of harmony where the line between the author’s songs and folk songs is blurred. That world is ruled by inner rhythm providing the tie with the reality – whether it is the poetic dream world, or a partisan's experience”.


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