Lithuanian instrument builder and composer Gong Girl (aka Guoda Dirzyte) hits home with her new effort, Shortcoming, for Cafe Oto’s Takuroku label. On this release, Dirzyte takes inspiration from poet and thinker Sigital Krutulys-Sygis (1967-1996) and creates a bizarre, haunting rumination on what it means to fail meeting certain contemporary societal standards. With such a heavy motivation, Shortcoming is intoxicatingly inviting and impossible to ignore once the synthetic percussion and guitar transgressions of the opening piece “Matematika Pasaulio Neišgelbės” echo through the hollows.
Shortcoming is spartan. Dirzyte does a lot with very little, keeping the soundscapes colored in minimalist shades so that each note, each passage holds more power. On the 10-minute anchor, “Dramblys,” her voice repeats lines from an untitled Sygis poem like a puppet master speaking life into the hanging tones below. “Tai geras senas,” over and over while her Max for Live patch decimates tape loops into dust. The whirr of the cassette a solemn remnant, buried in desolate guitar shards and pushed into forgotten corners.
Gong Girl finds resolution and redemption in the closer, “Tamsos Pasaka.” There’s something reverent on the piece, an acceptance that none of us are really living up to these standards and that’s okay (and, I would argue, the way it should be). It’s a beautiful piece of music that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for weeks. I highly recommend reading Dirzyte’s explanations of each piece on the Takuroku website as the added context, especially surrounding Sygis, adds so much. I don’t want to just repeat her here and rather focus on the stunning music instead because Shortcoming is an exquisite showcase.
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