maarja nuut solo

Maarja Nuut occupies an increasingly strange place in her country’s musical landscape. Open a tourist brochure about the charms of Estonia and you may see a picture of Nuut, lying demurely in a forest, fiddle at her side. This displaced-Hygge pic misrepresents one of the most compelling and driven artists in the land. Rather than being the pretty C21st waif in a forest, Nuut is a shamanic live performer and a determined experimenter, someone who seeks a personal, spiritual fusion between native song traditions and new technologies. A perfectionist who squeezes every ounce out of her vision, she maps out an imaginary landscape using folk songs about death and the landscape. Nuut clearly revels in showcasing the dramatic nature of these ancient songs with their terrifying lyrics (here seen in ‘The Lost Geese’: “A seat of goose bones is brought to me / I am given goose meat to eat / I am given goose blood to drink”). This is a worldview that sometimes feels like the sonic equivalent to Marc Chagall’s paintings of Russian village life, albeit a digi version

maarja nuut & ruum

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.