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Liudas Mockūnas: Hydro 2

Vitalijus Gailius By

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Liudas Mockūnas, an iconic Lithuanian improvisation and jazz figure, still continues his exploration of water. By combining water and reeds he steps into an unpredictable and unique sonic meadow. His first attempt to put the bridle on water, Hydro, was released in 2017 by NoBusiness Records. At the end of 2018 the same label presented the second part, Hydro 2. Like its predecessor it is a solo record. Water and solo? On one hand that sounds promising, but on the other it is a little bit risky. Is it possible to cope with amorphous and, let's say, uncontrollable water by yourself?

Beginning with a brief comparison of Hydro and Hydro 2, the first part was prepared beforehand and studio-recorded , whereas Hydro 2 is pure improvisation captured at the "Improdimensija" concert series in Vilnius, on 5th of October 2017. Moreover, Hydro was divided into different suites in contrast to Hydro 2 which consists only one track. So, this second chapter of water-based musical epic is more complex, dynamic and intimate than its predecessor.

Hydro 2 begins with the gentle sound of bubbling water caused by a soprano sax bell sunk into it. But the album cannot be labeled a fluffy one. Hydro 2 dramaturgy could be expressed in a sinusoid graphic with its peaks and lows. In particular, those parts where the listener hears water-prepared soprano sax sound more gentle compared to non-prepared ones. At those points it seems that water somehow plays a comforter role on this record and turns on a more peaceful mood. In general, perhaps, it is inherent in water to bring us peace, and Liudas proves that.

The sonic variety of Hydro 2 just knocks listeners' socks off. This record has an enormous abundance of odd sounds and tunes. Reassuring bubbling water sound, soprano sax sometimes buzzing like a mosquito or bleating like a goat, or even the saxophonist's delicate puffs and breathing sounds amalgamate harmoniously in Hydro 2. Furthermore, Liudas just drops a bomb with quite a rare instrument, a keyless overtone saxophone which was created for educational purpose, i.e., to improve overtone playing technique. In the context of Hydro 2, the keyless overtone sax sounds extremely powerful, deep and, because of the jaw-dropping tonguing technique of Liudas, it just bursts into colorful sonic bloom. Moreover, it marks a turning point to a more aggressive manner and staccato articulation as well.

What is more, Liudas, who is an adherent of acoustic sound, does not use any effects (delay, reverb, etc.) on this record. Such an acoustic approach asks the listener to focus on the nature of sound, on its primeval origins and to dive into the boundless ocean of tones and overtones. The answer to the question asked at the beginning of the review is more than clear: Mockūnas definitely has found his own way to get in touch with water, and the result is more than rewarding.

Track Listing: Hydro 2

Personnel: Liudas Mockūnas: soprano, water prepared soprano and water prepared keyless overtone saxophones

Title: Hydro 2 | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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