November 13, Music Music Feature. Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe. A decade ago, Edward Anderson of Chicago indie bands the s and Mazes used to trawl the Web for strange music. On a late-night online expedition inhe stumbled upon a YouTube rip of a song by a musician named Vyto B.
The only extant YouTube video of that record uploaded prior to is the borderline manic "Good and Evil Biorhythms," where Vyto pairs restless, densely syncopated piano with even more hectic singing—he delivers his lyrics about our uncertain future like a zealous auctioneer, so that I can't understand all of them even after dozens of listens.
This particular video uses a still image of the Tricentennial album cover. A stern but baby-faced Vyto is flanked by two background figures who appear to be levitating some sort of ornamental disk above his head—the figure on his left looks like Vyto wearing futuristic garb I Had A Friend - IF - Tea-Break Over-Back On Your Eads! by ancient Rome, and the one on his right is a mannequin.
It was uploaded by user "strugatsky," who the account's links suggest lives in Tallinn, Estonia. Anderson immediately wanted to know more. By the time Anderson heard him, Vyto B short for Vytautas Beleska had attracted a small international cult following for the music he'd been self-releasing since Even the most avid record hunters knew only the barest biographical information about him, though.
His first release, the compilation First Chips Volume 1collects a few solo songs and tracks by a handful of short-lived psych and garage bands that he'd played in over the previous few years. Issued on LP by Vyto's Clay Pigeon label no one's sure how many copies were pressedit's found its way into the hands of important collectors over the subsequent decades.
In a Sound Effects mailer that appears to be fromhe wrote about it fondly: "A most unusual find, and loose as hell. Tricentennial has prompted similar devotion from the collector community. In The Acid Archivesa weighty 4 + 20 - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu whose second edition published in collects reviews of 5, hard-to-find rock LPs released between andeditor Patrick Lundborg wrote that Tricentennial was "destined to become an 'outsider' favorite.
The post correctly surmised that Vyto was from the Chicago area, but it contained no other details about him. That same year, Anderson discovered not only that Vyto still lived in Chicago but also that he'd never stopped recording and performing. They performed music as Virtual Party and hosted an open jam session. After connecting with Vyto on Facebook, Anderson and his wife came to Monday Club to meet him in person.
The two men quickly became friends. He's My Love - Various - First Chips Volume I (A Collection Of Early Recordings From Clay Pigeon Producti gregarious and super fun to hang out with.
At some point we were like, 'Hey, we're hanging out together, should Curtains - The Saints - Casablanca make some music? InAnderson and Vyto began a tentative collaboration. For the first year, they met infrequently, but at the end of they decided to make an album, blocking off regular times to jam and record.
This week, they'll release Gridlockan eccentric art-rock album credited to Vyto B and Mazes. Sanzimat is putting out Gridlock in conjunction with two other cassettes. The lo-fi psych-pop record Era One is the debut of Chicago musician Nicole Baksinskas under the name Nik-Nik, while the eclectic antifolk album Catahua Blancaallegedly recorded during a weeklong series of ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru, is the work of a Harvard anthropologist operating under the pseudonym T Stephen.
Anderson has designated all three tapes part of a series called the Lithuanian Diaspora, since all the musicians are of Lithuanian descent.
Anderson's parents didn't emphasize his Lithuanian heritage while he was growing up in the south suburbs in the 90s. But recently he's noticed that he's long been drawn to other Lithuanian musicians. When he formed the s inthe original lineup included two Chicagoans of Lithuanian descent, multi-instrumentalist Michael Jasinski and violinist Kristina Dutton. Lithuania's population hovers around three million, but like much of the rest of northeastern Europe, the country spent almost 50 years under Soviet rule—and this drove emigration.
According to a Economist article1. Chicago's large Lithuanian community has played a significant role in the Lithuanian diaspora. Shortly after he left office inat the end of his second term, he gave a phone interview to Lithuanian radio program Margutisbroadcast by WCEV, a multilingual Chicago station that caters to several ethnic groups. The interviewer was Vyto B. To Chicago's Lithuanian community, Vyto is hardly the mystery he's long been to record collectors. Vitas met him about 12 years ago, when Vyto began volunteering for the center, and he'd known about him for much longer.
Born in Chicago inVyto began recording in Decemberwhen as a Inside Madeline - Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky he made a spine-tingling instrumental electronic song called "Time Part One ," which appears on First Chips.
In the five decades since, Vyto has been involved in a lot of different musical projects, and it's difficult to know the full breadth of My Love - Various - First Chips Volume I (A Collection Of Early Recordings From Clay Pigeon Producti catalog.
His most recent new material came out in the s. Record collectors have only been able to document a few recordings, a fraction of the material Vyto claims to have released. Magazine where Vyto shares his story. Sadly, I couldn't get any details from the man himself. Vyto fell ill inand he declined to talk to me. No one I spoke with would share details about his condition on the record.
I communicated with Vyto through Anderson, who passed along a few brief messages. When British bands brought their flavor of rock to the States in the 60s, Vyto got hooked and began playing in several bands, including Grand Fuck a riff on Grand My Love - Various - First Chips Volume I (A Collection Of Early Recordings From Clay Pigeon Producti Railroad. That group supplied First Chips with three primordial art-rock songs, including the florid ripper "Fire Mountain.
The eight-and-a-half-minute song was recorded live at a high school dance in Tinley Park. Devlin bought the LP, and continued jamming with Vyto even after the church-basement sessions ended a few months later.
He performed with Vyto on and off during the ensuing decades. We'd rock the place. Vyto kept starting new bands, sometimes with Devlin and sometimes without him. In the mids, they launched the Martian Plan, which Devlin describes as post-new wave. In the late 70s, they formed Angelica, which had a song Devlin claims sounded like Double's soft-rock single "Captain of Her Heart. Devlin says the original lineup of the Band That Never Made It petered out after about a year and a half.
InVyto recycled the name My Love - Various - First Chips Volume I (A Collection Of Early Recordings From Clay Pigeon Producti a trio that did include Devlin, who soon recruited a drummer named Rick Trankle—he came aboard unrehearsed for a paid gig at a south-side grade school reunion.
I Believe (Dean Age Rampage Remix) - EMF - I Believe blocks of 60s classics, the three of them played Vyto originals, which quickly made a fan of Trankle. When you hear music like that, you just naturally are drawn to it for whatever reason. Within a year, the trio had landed a gig at Tuts in Lakeview, at the time one We Are The World - Bill Bass - Steel Band Melodies In The Island Tradition the city's favorite rock clubs—but that was as close as the trio or Vyto got to mainstream success or fame.
Devlin says Angelica attracted some interest from MCA imprint Infinity, though the label folded before anything solidified. In the early 70s, Vyto had run into famous Chicago radio personality Larry Lujack and passed along some of his music, but other than some encouraging words, that didn't lead anywhere either. It stayed that way for years.
Anderson, 41, grew up in Palos Park. His maternal grandfather was Lithuanian. In sixth grade, Anderson started a band called R. Every time we hung out, we'd make albums and albums. I'm always like, 'Thank you so much for championing my music when I was in sixth grade. In high school, Anderson played in an experimental trio called Minotaurs of P with Michael Jasinski and Tim Minnick, both of whom would become part of the first s lineup in ByAnderson had put out another record on Parasol, this one by his side project Mazes.
Both were lush and genteel, characteristic of indie rock at the time. Anderson still tinkers with material for both bands, but not long after the second s album, 's Return of the Centuryhe basically stopped performing live. The following year, while working on the Mazes record Mazes Blazeshe decided to start a label of his own to release it. He'd already met Vyto by then, and he wanted to reissue his friend's back catalog too. Vyto B reissues on Sanzimat have yet to materialize, in part because Vyto has been more interested in his new music.
But since launching his label inAnderson has built a catalog that includes enough archival material for such releases to make sense. Within its first couple years, Sanzimat had put out two such records: Coyote: Archives Vol. D'Autremont had run a home studio, and Baksinskas had recorded there.
Material that Anderson found that night is included on the new Era One cassette. Inhe relocated to New Jersey, bringing some of his rarest materials. Bywhen he moved the archive to Chicago, it weighed about 3, pounds. Chairman Robertas Vitas says it's the largest such collection outside Lithuania. Vyto began working with the Michelle - The Beatles - Rubber Soul archive as a volunteer in the late s.
He'd help catalog reel-to-reel recordings, letters, films, vinyl, and other documents, and show visiting researchers around. Those Lithuanian American musicians, many of them he knew, he worked with, he collaborated with, and played events with—so he had that kind of content knowledge that is very rare.
Vitas says the archive likely contains some of Vyto's work too—most of its contents aren't yet digitally indexed, so it's impossible to be sure without an exhaustive manual search.
Vyto frequently recorded rehearsals and live sets, and Devlin has some reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes of his work with Vyto. So does Trankle, who shared some digitized versions with me—I heard snippets of them playing Tuts inwhere they injected their fierce, borderline feral set with refined glam. Anderson isn't the only person who's hoped to reissue Vyto's material.
Moniker Records founder Robert Maniswho helped Drag City reissue recordings by Detroit protopunk band Death, has had the itch since discovering Tricentennial a decade ago. Krakow thinks Vyto might not know where he's stored some of his masters—an obvious problem for any authorized reissue. Anderson says a friend of Vyto's has uploaded First Chips Volume 1Tricentennialand the full-length Virtual Party to Spotify over the past year, but he doesn't know if Vyto gave his permission.
Manis talked to Vyto in about rereleasing some of his old work, only to discover that Vyto didn't share his enthusiasm for the project. He's an artist, so Cognitive Dissonance - In Better Senses - Demo Sampler always pushing things forward, doing things different. He didn't really want to revisit his old work. They played a few gigs, mostly at the behest of younger fans eager to spread the word about Vyto's history as an underground legend: Manis booked them for a Record Store Day set at Permanent inand Krakow tapped My Love - Various - First Chips Volume I (A Collection Of Early Recordings From Clay Pigeon Producti for a summer version of his annual Psych Fest at the Hideout in Before Vyto fell ill inhe and Devlin would travel to Trankle's northwest-side home and play in the basement every week.
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