Kitten goes global online

  • 2001-10-04
Can a country like Latvia preserve its ancient language and culture in the age of globalization? The band Prata Vetra are offering one very creative way to do it. With the release of two new albums, "Online" and "Kakens, kurs atteicas no jurasskolas" (The Kitten Who Refused to Go to Sea Academy is the rough translation), Prata Vetra have demonstrated that you can write compelling songs that speak to a Latvian and a global market at the same time.

"Online" features 11 new songs with lyrics in English. "Kakens" takes nine of those songs and offers them with identical melodies and instrumental tracks, but with the original Latvian lyrics. They are not simply translations from one language to another, but totally different songs and subjects, using the same tunes.

Each album stands on its own creatively, although there is a clear family resemblance. Two sides of a musical coin.

Prata Vetra have been addressing two markets with their music for some time now, and carry this idea even further by marketing themselves as Brainstorm to fans outside Latvia. The Eurovision hit "My Star" took off after the band had already recorded a Latvian version called "Issavienojums," and many of the songs on the previous Prata Vetra album "Among the Suns" were based on earlier Latvian language versions.

With "Online" and "Kakens," the group have refined this approach even further. Although much of Brainstorm's marketing strategy is based on reaching a broader European and U.S. market, the release and smash success of "Kakens" (8,200 CDs sold and a Gold Disc in four days - a Latvian record) shows that the Latvian version of this new collection of songs was no afterthought.

For those who want to hear more original Latvian music featuring Latvian lyrics, "Kakens" is a welcome addition to Latvia's radio airwaves.

But this feisty kitten doesn't stop there. Led by the charming singles "Online" and "Maybe," the Brainstorm album "Online" offers 11 songs that the rest of the world can sing along with as well.

And for those of us who understand both English and Latvian, a double bonus: 20 new songs that can move you no matter which way your native tongue tends to wag when you hear a catchy tune. (A good argument for learning Latvian.)

While the Prata Vetra CD "Kakens" is already a hit, we have yet to see how far the Brainstorm CD "Online" will go in penetrating a broader world market. We wish them well, but maybe it doesn't matter. They say that with gifts, it's the thought that counts. Prata Vetra/ Brainstorm have given Latvia and its friends a thoughtful and moving musical gift that is just right for the globalized world of the 21st century. See you online!