Kaza Kāpa Debesīs


2003: UPE Records UPE CD 048

  1. Nesmejieti Jūs Ļautiņi / Don’t You Laugh at Me
  2. Rītā Rasa Krita / The Morning Dew-falls
  3. Šķērsu Dienu Saule Teka / The Sun Is Running Crosswise
  4. Kaza Kāpa Debesīs / A Goat Climbed up into the Sky
  5. Ozoliņš Sadega / An Oak Tree Was Burnt
  6. Tiem Būs Sargāt Pavardiņu / Those Are the Ones
  7. Es Ar Sauli Saderēju / I Made a Bet with the Sun
  8. Tumša Nakte Zaļa Zāle / The Night Was Dark, the Grass Was Green
  9. Ozolīti Zemzarīti / Low-Branched Oak Tree
  10. Runā Ļaudis, Ko Runā / People Are Gossiping
  11. Kas Tur Nāca Pār Jūriņu / Who Is Coming across the Sea
  12. Es Gulēju Maigu Miegu / I Was a Lite Sleeper
  13. Jūrā Gāju Naudu Sēti / Sowing Money into the Sea

Thanks to a Latvian coworker I had the extreme pleasure of attending an intimate Iļģi concert as they toured in support of this album in the summer of 2004. Not only were they marvelous, but the bulk of the second half of the concert was given over to Latvian folk dancing, with Ilga Reizniece herself helping lead many of the dances. (And yes, I danced too…I was coaxed into a few dances by a buxom blonde and didn’t make a complete ass of myself in the process, although those are some tricky steps!)

Thankfully the CD’s booklet includes summary translations of all the songs as well as the full lyrics in Latvian; this is great because it allows me to sing along (albeit awkwardly) and to learn a little of the language’s pronunciation patterns. The translations are certainly a helpful introduction to the bawdy playfulness that characterizes some Latvian folk music: the one for the twelfth track, for instance, says:

I was a lite sleeper but the young lad didn’t sleep at all—what sort of little devils keep stirring you? Come to me, young girl, and take your loom with you—I’ve got a shuttle with two balls of silk thread to share. Come to me, young lad, I’ll treat you to some honey—I’ve got some below my belly hidden there by a bee. I ask the blacksmith to make me an iron apron so the young man’s copper arrow wouldn’t hit me. A blacksmith keeps working day and night, yet he has never forged a man; I’ve managed to make a real human being without getting up from my bed.


My favorite aspect of this album, however, is its vocal array, especially on “Rītā Rasa Krita” (which has a great rhythmic arrangement under the rather stiff vocal pacing), when the verses get fanned out to three-note chords; it reminds me of what Iļģi did on their early albums, but now it’s given a hugely more robust treatment.

I must note that for a long time I didn’t even realize Track 8 was what it was—a completely different reworking of a tune Iļģi recorded gorgeously on their 1980s album Riti, Riti. Only the melody line ties the two versions together…it’s baffling to me why they would mess with that song again after having created such a perfect gem in its earlier version.