MEANINGFUL HOLE: Two leaders of the Skyle (“Hole”) band, Rokas Radzevicius and Aiste Smilgeviciute, during a presentation of the CD Broliai in the Baltos Lankos bookshop.
VILNIUS - On Friday, Feb. 18, at 19:00, Skyle (“Hole” in Lithuanian), probably currently the best Lithuanian band, will give its concert in the New York Club in Vilnius. The concert will be a presentation of their newest CD, Broliai (“Brothers”), which can be called one of the best CDs in Lithuanian music history. The concert tickets can be bought via www.bilietai.lt or in the New York Club, which is situated on Kalvariju St. 85.
The Skyle band was established in 1991. Now it consists of seven persons. The band’s music style is kind of a mixture of poetic and alternative rock with Lithuanian folklore, although some touch of Irish-style folk is also felt in the band’s music. Apart from the traditional rock music instruments, the band’s music is enriched with the flute and the accordion and sometimes even with the kankles, a Lithuanian string musical instrument. In 1996, Aiste Smilgeviciute, Lithuania’s sexiest voice, joined the band. In 1999 she represented Lithuania in the Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem (her folk-style song in Samogitian dialect was highly judged by experts, but it was too complicated for Eurovision’s audience then). The band’s leader is Rokas Radzevicius, who composes the music for Skyle as well as sings and plays the guitar.
He was studying history at Vilnius University when he got acquainted with philology student Smilgeviciute, who was giving him some lessons of the Latin language. In 1998, these two vegetarians married, partially due to pressure from Smilgeviciute’s parents, who are from the rather conservative Samogitia region, in western Lithuania, which still is not too tolerant of unmarried couples. Skyle, unlike the majority of Lithuanian pop artists, was never involved in any stupid scandals, which are usually made with a PR intention so, therefore, the band is positively different from other popular musicians in Lithuania.
The album Broliai is dedicated to the Forest Brothers, members of the armed anti-Soviet resistance movement from 1944-1953. They were idealists who knew that they had little chance to survive. This state of mind is echoed in the CD’s poetry, which was written by Radzevicus, Smilgeviciute and other writers of the CD’s lyrics. Two songs are based on two young female guerillas’ poetry, which was written 60 years ago. The lyrics are in Lithuanian, but this is not so important for the international public as the example of Alina Orlova, the internationally famous Lithuanian singer, shows – audiences Europe-wide are singing in Lithuanian her “If I would jump out of the window, I would do it only in November when the pavement is covered with bleeding leaves,” even without understanding the meaning of these Lithuanian words. The newest Skyle CD has the same musical potential to reach the international audience. The verses are lyrical, although the word “bullets” is mentioned quite often. At the same time, it is not too straightforwardly patriotic or political: no “Soviets,” “Russians” or even “Lithuania” are mentioned, if not counting the words about “birds singing in Lithuanian.”
All the music is written by Radzevicius. The instrumental music of this particular CD sometimes reminds one of Russia’s band Aquarium, but the vocals are highly original (especially the vocals of Smilgeviciute). The classical string quartet and the men’s choir Bel Canto are important additions in this Skyle CD.
This CD of 18 songs was inspired by the diary of Lionginas Baliukevicius, alias Dzukas, chief of the Dainava guerilla military district in southern Lithuania. “I would not go to America if somebody offered me freedom there. It is better to die fighting than to wait for something, doing nothing. We will be able to look people straight in the eyes because we did not abandon our Fatherland,” wrote Dzukas, who himself was killed in action in 1950, in his diary.
The song Astuoni Karzygiai (“Eight Heroes”) is dedicated to eight guerilla movement leaders who announced the declaration of Feb. 16, 1949, in their hideout in the Minaiciai village. “The Council of the Movement of the Struggle for Freedom of Lithuania shall be the supreme political body of the nation during the occupation period. The governing of Lithuania shall be exercised by the parliament, elected through free, democratic, general and equal elections by secret ballot,” reads the declaration of Feb. 16, 1949.
On Dec. 3, Skyle, together with the classical string quartet and the men’s choir, gave an astonishing Broliai concert in the Forum Palace in Vilnius (the concert in the New York Club will be their second concert with such program). During that concert on Dec. 3 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 1,200, Smilgeviciute also sang the quite erotically sounding song Baltas Brolis (“White Brother”) from their previous CD. In 2009, the song Baltas Brolis from the album Povandenines Kronikos (“Underwater Chronicles”) reached the top 20 of Lithuanian songs of all time in the voting organized by the Lithuanian National Radio. In 2007, during the ceremony of the “Awards of Lithuania’s Alternative Music A.LT,” the Underwater Chronicles was announced the best album of 2007, while Skyle was recognized as the best rock band of the year. Skyle continues to be simply the best.