Last year during his final term of music studies in the UK, musician and drummer Kārlis Roberts Kalējs as the final portfolio wrote a solo album, where each track is composed and arranged entirely on drums. The aim was to experiment with the ability to make music, not just rhythms. Ode to Becoming is also the artist’s debut album. Previously, the musician has worked on various different projects internationally as a drummer and a producer, and continues to do it now after returning back to Latvia.
Ode to Becoming is a dialogue with drums. “Usually when making music with other people, I communicate through the drums, whereas with this project I wanted to gain a deeper, much more personal connection with the instrument and learn how to communicate with the drums themselves” the artist says. Drum solo albums are rare and in Latvia Ode to Becoming is the first of its kind.
The album is a diverse yet cohesive and meditative sonic journey. Inspired by countless jazz drummers and experimental improvisation, in his compositions, the musician uses different drum kit setups, extended techniques and various effects. Throughout the album there are tracks where Kārlis layers different elements, plays melodies or simply makes it groove. For some compositions he restricts himself and makes something very minimalistic; for some – quite the opposite. For the best listening experience, a part of the artist’s vision is to encourage people to take a break from everyday rush and listen to the album on headphones in one continuous take without doing anything else. Ode to Becoming is available on all major streaming platforms.
Composed and performed by Kārlis Roberts Kalējs
Recorded by James Coates
Mixed by James Coates and Kārlis Roberts Kalējs
Produced by James Coates and Kārlis Roberts Kalējs
Mastered by James Coates
Artwork by Terēze Brence
Photos by Vivian Almas
Creative director: Tīna Alise Drupa
Zambian guitarist Katuta Sichilongo after listening to the album: “I loved the variety of themes expressed and picked up a wonderful juxtaposition between form and freedom – what they mean and what they could mean. The production was top tier… There were some sounds in there that I imagined were not typical part of the drumkit but added astounding beauty.”
“I had never worked on anything like this before. When Kārlis first got in touch with me, his vision about the album very intrigued me and the whole process has been just an incredible experience.” Sound engineer James Coates describes his collaboration with Kārlis.
Ode to Becoming creative director Tīna Alise Drupa: “The concept and the execution of the album inspired me. It broadened my perspective about the drums as a musical instrument.”
Terēze Brence, who worked on the artwork, describes the album as a unique experience: “It’s so enjoyable and interesting! I have a feeling that I’m listening to some kind of traveller telling me about his adventures.”