Album: ‘As They Are’ by Marijus Aleksa

‘As They Are’ is the debut full-length release from drummer and composer, Marijus Aleksa, released through the eclectic miclithuania record label.

The Lithuanian-born and London-based artist has amassed a stellar reputation having chalked up collaborations with some of the UK’s most prominent talent within today’s contemporary jazz scene. With notable collaborations including work with artists like Snarky Puppy pianist, Bill Laurance, work alongside Joe Armon-Jones for his live from Maida Vale project, ‘MV4’ (Brownswood, 2020) and tracks for Ashley Henry’s ‘Beautiful Vinyl Hunter’ (Sony Music, 2019), Aleksa continues to cement his status as a revered studio collaborator and live performer with his own burgeoning catalogue set to establish him as a solo artist in his own right.

Released in 2018 through YAM Records, Marijus Aleksa initially conveyed his bold approach for his music’s all-encompassing vision through the release of the four-track EP, ‘MAPS’. A thrilling concoction of equal parts jazz, electronica and afrobeat, ‘MAPS’ relished the opportunity to subvert expectations and assert Aleksa’s interpretation as a positive and definitive way forward for the genre.

With five years since ‘MAPS’ was originally released, as previously mentioned, the time in between projects has certainly been productive and having become firmly embedded within London’s thriving jazz community, ‘As They Are’ pulls together an excellent array of musicians – 23 in total – hailing from the UK, US, Lithuania and Cuba. It’s a thrilling mix of artists and reflective styles indicative of the project’s far-reaching scope. As a famed improviser, much of that associated energy is masterfully captured by Aleksa and the recruited ensemble with compositions continuing in that notion of joyful exploration. Recorded over the course of three years and comprised of jam sessions and improvised pieces, ‘As They Are’ has been painstakingly pieced together, remixed, rearranged, etc resulting in the glorious twelve track album currently presented.

‘Thing(s)’ kicks the album off perfectly – as the track delicately introduces a range of inspired and varying textures around Aleksa’s drums, the scope of influences for the album slowly introduce themselves laying the groundwork for the Aleksa’s dynamic statement of intent. The airy, slow build of ‘Always Now’ marks a distinct album highlight as does the noir aesthetic of ‘See’ featuring trumpeter Yelfris Valdés. The infectious energy of the album’s title track soars amongst one of the album’s best pieces while the sublime jazz-meets-electronica nature of ‘The Right’ takes the album down new avenues once again proving exemplary of the versatility of such a fantastic project.

Imran Mirza

I love discovering something I've never heard before and sharing that feeling with like-minded people who embrace the music in the same way. You're welcome to join me on more of my musical misadventures on Blue-in-Green:RADIO.

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