The launch of the debut album Terra Incognita of chamber choir Sireen took place in the House of the Blackheads in the Old Town of Tallinn. The concert was accompanied by specially created visuals, matching those on the album design, as well as a light show, which created the perfect atmosphere for the concert. The performance was also enriched by choreography with the choir using the entire space, moving around the audience. The sequence of the songs, while different from the order on the record, created a continuous whole. All in all, it is great to have such an innovative and professional choir in Estonia.
The record launch was financed through the crowd-funding site Hooandja with donations exceeding the original budget. The supporters received, according to the amount donated, a free ticket, priority entry, free record, and an invitation to the launch’s afterparty. A photo session, in which the singers posed as mermaids, was organised for the launch, and a reflector-brooch with a design matching the record created for sale as well.
The album design depicts the common ground of mystery, water, femininity and terra incognita. A colourfully glowing tail of a mermaid is interestingly displayed. The leaflet features girls with flowing hair, song lyrics in English, Estonian, Russian, and Hebrew, as well as different details about the making of the record.
The decision to sing in different languages supports the concept of „Terra Incognita“. Listening to unknown languages inspires a wish to understand their very nature, examine the meanings, but at the same time to admit that not everything can be understood. There are things that remain hidden.
The songs on the record did not require a lot of guessing. The leaflet includes Estonian lyrics and the prevailing themes of the songs. They are about girls and boys, alluring dance and beautiful gentleness, spotless sky and a land of peace and balance, junipers and harmonious sea shells, regret, tenderness and love. The selection is versatile, but still entirely suited to the sirens. The message expresses the hidden sides of the world, the unknown, yearning, mystery. The female voices caress the ears, crawl under one’s skin, make one long for something unfathomable, something beyond the limits of the mind. What is it that we cannot see, but that has inspired similar legends in different places of the world? It is extremely interesting to wonder what is hidden behind the protective screen of everyday life. It is somehow easy to find one’s way in these reflections to the sounds of Sireen’s record. The audible sounds and message help and direct one on this journey of the mind.
Unexceptional unearthliness and tenderness, but also strength and confidence has been charmed out of the members of the choir, for which the two conductors, Tiiu Sinipalu and Ülle Tuisk, must be praised. There is no question whether the singers know their part, everything is intuited and polished to the last detail. Different voices move together and then apart only to dissolve into each other again. In addition to songs performed a capella, different instruments as well as the two-member band Algorütmid, which looks for connections between reality and sound, can be heard. The two songs created in collaboration with the band intrigue the listener by opposing the choir music and electronic sounds as well as offering new cognitive elements to each other.
The songs that proved especially memorable were “Kadakad” (“Junipers”) by Lembit Veevo and Debora Vaarandi, „Tasase maa laul“ (“Song about a Level Land”) by Veljo Tormis and Paul-Eerik Rummo, arranged by Tõnu Kõrvits, „Kalà Kallà“ from Hebrew love songs, and „Cожаленья“ („Regret“) in collaboration with Algorütmid.
In conclusion, the record is well intuited and targeted inside and out and is a real pleasure to listen to.