World musicians descend on Andrejsala

  • 2006-09-07
  • By Paul Morton

ALL THE RAGE: Liars, a band straight from New York, is part of the eclectic line-up planned for the fourth annual Skanu Mezs festival in Riga.

RIGA - On Sept. 8 and 9, Andrej-sala, a port at the edge of Riga that serves as a temporary bohemian habitation, will see what may be the best party it has ever hosted.

After two previous parties in May and July, Skanu Mezs, a video and music festival, will have its final party of the year. It should be a nice way to say goodbye to the summer.

The last two parties were a friendly, relaxed affair. People congregated inside the cramped mechanic house and milled around outside. The lights from the party reflected in the water, the enormous night sky never felt more liberating.

Viestarts Gailitis, one of the festival's organizers, is the son of a jazz-loving Lutheran minister, and grew up swallowing anything he could pick up off of Radio Luxembourg or Radio Warsaw. But the experience left something wanting.

Through radio, he says, musicians sounded "unattainable, unapproachable."
From 1990 until 1999, Gailitis lived in Oslo. And it was there that he was finally able to see the music he loved being performed. His tastes were always eclectic; he keeps himself "curious, non-cynical and inquisitive," Gailitis says. Now the music lover listens to WFMV, an internet station based out of New Jersey. And for the past four years, he has been trying to bring that spirit back home to Riga with Skanu Mezs.

The festival has a pretty good line-up this year.
Skanu Mezs features Charles Curtis, a cellist who has gained a cult following in Manhattan. He'll be performing with Eliane Radigue, a 74-year-old French electronic musician.

Jamie Lidell, a soul singer from England known for his electric media-infused shows, will also perform, as will Keiji Haino, a Japanese musician who takes at least some of his cues from The Doors.

And there'll be some deconstructive, improvised tunes as well. You may be able to call the Liars from New York a post-punk band. Critic Justin F. Farrar sets Wolf Eyes from Ann Arbor, Michigan, on a separate plane entirely. Other bands "flirt…with the dire circumstances of the human condition in the abstract. But, Wolf Eyes just fucking ARE the circumstances of the modern human condition," he says.

Andrejsala, in its current state, will not last forever. The Danish architect Rem Kolhaas is scheduled to begin work on a major residential project within the next few years. In previous years, Skanu Mezs hasn't bothered moving beyond the more hidden ground on the Left Bank of the Daugava River. And this will be the first and only year the festival will be held at the port.
It will be sad to see the one place everyone sees as Riga's best kept secret go. But somehow that only makes this party that much more precious and that much more worthy of attention.
Andrejsala will see at least one grand party before the end.

Skanu Mezs
Sept. 8 's 9
Andrejostas iela 4
Tickets: 7/10 lats (10/14.37 euros)
for one/two days
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