When it comes to music, one of Lithuania’s most interesting success stories of the last couple of years is Solo Ansamblis (Solo Ensemble), a band made up of actors, who in 2017 won the Best Alternative Act at the MAMA awards (Lithuania’s answer to the Grammy). Dressed in black, they perform music that they choose to call ‘sad dance’. File under ‘clever synthpop meets darkwave meets Joy Division’. Or rather, do not file it under anything, as Solo Ansamblis are truly on to something that is not derivative at all. It is best to witness their dark music live: they sing in Lithuanian, often using well-known poems as lyrics for their songs (including one by the famous poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke). It is hypnotic stuff, and all the festivals in the country seem to want to book them at the moment.
Slowly crawling out from the underground scene, Solo Ansamblis broke through in 2016, when their debut album Roboxai, and dark, intriguing performances, became the talk of the town. Interesting visuals, plastic mannequins on stage, and unusual creative decisions (they invited an 80-year-old Lithuanian rock veteran, dressed in a glittery costume, to dance with them for an important award ceremony, for no reason, it seems) helped to attract even more attention. Having performed warm-up sets for the likes of GusGus and Royksopp, Solo Ansamblis are now guaranteed to draw a big crowd wherever they play. ‘This is music that calls everybody to dance in the dark, since nobody is watching,’ is how they describe it. ‘This is music for the mind, the body and the soul.’ It is also music that David Lynch would probably like: there is something dark, melancholic, mysterious, and also quite disturbing at the heart of Solo Ansamblis’ creative vision.
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