Vr 29 november 2024

Led by celebrated Lithuanian singer and kanklės player Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė, Merope offer a uniquely contemporary vision of ancient Baltic music, widening Jurgelevičiūtė's celestial folk reinterpretations with ornate, experimentally-minded guitar and electronics from Belgian multi-instrumentalist Bert Cools. Their music is tough to categorize: its roots are buried deep in the soil of Lithuania's traditional forms, but Merope use the past to help them lean into the future, motivated by the notion that these ancestral words and melodies might have further relevance when shuffled with ideas from across the cultural map. Tangling elements gleaned from jazz, ambient music, 20th century minimalism and kosmische into their moving, humanist compositions, Merope provide a soundtrack for today's international landscape - a place where culture can flourish, adapt and interact, evolving to formulate a more universal and more harmonic message.

By their third album 'Naktės', Merope had fully developed their signature, taking inspiration from the moonlight on a suite of ambient folk abstractions recorded at the dead of night. They expanded their scope, and their reach, on their fourth album 'Salos', made alongside Vilnius chamber choir Jauna Muzika and conductor Vaclovas Augustinas. Released in 2021 on Belgium's STROOM label, this record netted Merope significant international acclaim - one of the album's stand-out tracks, 'Oi toli', was even played by Björk during her DJ set at Le Bourse de commerce in Paris.

Featuring contributions from a handful of other friends, including múm's Gyða Valtýsdóttir, Sigur Rós keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson and veteran Pakistani-American instrumentalist and producer Shazad Ismaily, 'Salos' is the perfect representation of Merope's musical story so far. Jurgelevičiūtė's voice melts into Jauna Muzika's spiritually resonant chorals, buoyed by the band's woozy fourth world synth textures and delicate acoustic instrumentation. Since then, they've been collaborating extensively, working with American folk musician Sam Amidon, members of Efterklang and embarking on a series of shows with Ismaily. And Merope's sound continues to progress, absorbing Jurgelevičiūtė's, Cools' and their collaborators' multitude of experiences and diverse histories in the search for art that's truly trans-cultural.

Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė (Lithuania) - vocals/kanklės
Bert Cools (Belgium) - guitar/electronics
Shazad Ismaily - moog, bass, percussion