Saturday, April 22, 2017

TMW #3 - Eeter

Estonia has a very strong tradition of folk vocal music - singing choirs and the like - which worked as a form of nationalist resilience during the long period of Soviet rule and attempted Russification. Indeed Estonia's breaking loose from the crumbling U.S.S.R. actually involved mass protests known as The Singing Revolution.

                                                                  [pic by Maria Aua]

Several artists at the Tallinn Music Week drew on these traditions, working vaguely Medieval / liturgical  or rustic folk vocals (with a tinge of the country's pagan past - it was Christianized as late as the 13th Century)  into soundscapes influenced by industrial / ambient /electroacoustic techniques and atmospheres. The result is a distinctively Estonian contribution to the tradition of  "ethereal girl" music. The most mesmerising of the ones I saw was Eeter - which as it happens, is the Estonian word for "ether". But it's also quite close to  Eesti, the Estonian for, well, Estonia the country and Estonian the language. Thereby - intentionally? - suggesting a native ethereality to this densely forested country, with its countless lakes, its bogs and fens, and indeed the exterior locations it provided for Tarkosvky's wondrously eerie Stalker.

The trio of Anna Hints, Marja-Liisa Plats and Ann Reimann  use their pipes in a variety of ways - ranging from mouth-music / text-sound / voice-scape effects through to much more diva-like Gothic grandeur reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard - and then mesh that with a mixture of acoustic textures (cawing violin, dulcimer-like glints and tingles, piano) and electronic scrapes, drones, glitches etc. Sometimes you're put in mind of Dead Can Dance;  sometimes there's a faint flavour of Nico's The Marble Index. But the setting through which the voices float is much more ambient and IDM in  feel and provenance.