There’s a rare symbiosis at work between Maarja Nuut and Hendrik Kaljujärv (AKA Ruum). Born out of a series of phone conversations in 2016, their collaboration has pushed each other to explore new musical territory and carve out new forms of expression. Nuut, an acclaimed singer, violinist, and composer, had long wanted to explore the world of electronica, but was unable to fully articulate her thoughts and ideas. On hearing Kaljujärv’s music – the self-taught sound engineer and designer has been composing in the digital and analogue realms since he was 15 – however, she felt a connection. That initial creative spark has since been fanned to produce two entrancing, gloriously transcendent records and a mesmerising live show.
The music they make together deals with the heart and mind, and is born of their cumulative experiences of art, of each other, of life. Full of character, the contradictory nature of their songs is simply reflective of the world, and represents some form of ideal as to how things are. As they themselves say: “Every power has its own opposite, and each world has its own world inverted. Our aim is to place these two opposites in one body.” For the duo, those phone conversation are still going on in a way; there’s a lot left to explore.
2018’s Muunduja – it means ‘shifter’ in Estonian – is an immersive, saturating listen, a part-imaginary landscape that envelops all who come across it. World Inverted, their latest album released in 2020, is equally as bold and inventive, but it’s on stage where the duo’s music really comes alive. Blending quiet techno, Nuut’s haunting voice, and an array of loopers and pedals, the layers of their complex sonic world are painstakingly built to dizzying crescendos before fading out, like a storm passing overhead. Melancholic yet comforting, there’s a euphoria to
these peaks – to watch them perform is to succumb to their magic, and to be transported to a higher plane.