Latvian Mārtiņš Viļums (born 1974) is one of the most dazzling and fascinating composers on the contemporary Baltic music scene. This album - as far as I know, it is the first to feature only his works - is an ideal introduction to a sound cosmos without equal. The word "cosmos"; is appropriate here because Viļums' music feeds on cosmogonic and many other (pseudo-)archaic sources. The composer uses microtonal and overtone-rich vocal effects, self-created mythologems, phoneme systems and demon-divine languages, synthetic (electronic) sounds and "primitive"; percussion instruments. To put it in Viļums'; own words: "I wanted to create an imaginary mythological cultural world with a small connection to the original, a cultural echo that existed at some point - like a mental link between culture, text and my own aesthetic vision. The music is primarily the articulation of the text, branching out heterophonically and contextually, being layered and reconnecting with the whole of the story." Perhaps Viļums' sonic language can best be compared to that of the Estonian Veljo Tormis, who died in 2017 - with one major difference: where Tormis digs for the supposedly authentic archaic sources, Viļums' intellectual syncretism is part of the programme. This does not detract from the art-magic of his music (and when would magic not be artificial?), on the contrary. The Latvian Radio Choir emerges here once again as perhaps the best choir in the whole world.
Music: ★★★★ ½
FONO FORUM, 05/2022