Last weekend, the Üle heli festival took place for the second time. If the last year’s starting point was “creating the worlds”, which enabled the musicians to show how they described the surrounding world through the sound, this year’s programme was based on “level zero”, meaning that the development, progress, or a new direction compared to earlier works of musicians was considered when programming the festival. Therefore, several works were premiered (Mart Avi’s album „Rouge Wave“, Rainer Jancis’s album „Hibernatus“, Edasi’s album „Fake Wheel“), there were works that had been made especially for the festival (Ajukaja’s „Magus müra“, Djerro „Aeg“) and audiovisual performances were created as well (Erik Alalooga’s „Katastroof ja dünaamika“).
In addition to musical performances, the programme included different visual installations (Ekke and Helen Västrik’s installation „Kontakt“, installation „Üle ala“ by the master-level new media students of Estonian Academy of Arts), which were available for viewing in the venues or the city space.
The live performances on Friday night were kicked off by Taavi Tulev, whose programme under the artist name Hape was something never been seen before. There was also a young lady on stage, who combined different coloured liquids in test tubes while Taavi filled the entire hall with ambient acid-rhythmic soundscapes with a mixer, iPad, sequencer, analogue synthesisers, effect blocks and drum machine. The programme kept picking up pace and the body started to move to the music, but that’s exactly when the concert ended.
A performer who always charms with her presence and creates a sincere atmosphere is Maarja Nuut. This time, her stage partner was Hendrik Kaljujärv, who is active in Cubus Larvik. They performed songs from both Maarja Nuut’s latest album as well as completely new works. They formed a compatible duo, although Maarja’s intimate violin formations and powerful yet tender singing voice mostly dominated. However, the additional attraction of Hendrik’s deep bass was perceptible in several songs.
I was happy to read Mart Avi’s name while leafing through the festival programme and I could experience the wonder of his concert from the first notes and Mart’s stage presence – having a mix of lazy/careless attitude and at the same time being completely aware of his surroundings. The first musical parallel that I thought of was David Bowie, but there are other similarities. For example, our own Faun Racket has common features with what I heard (primarily, the unmistakeably recognisable unique timbre).
Among foreign artists, a great performance was given by Turkish-born Nene Hatun, whose real name is Beste Aydin, and whose stage name was inspired by a Turkish 19th-century female fighter. Taking into account the current situation in Turkey, that is certainly very brave and admirable. The music she played, in which dark minimalist bass lines, Oriental movements and ear-stroking vocal formations were mixed, made the body flow to it and it seemed a terrible pity when it ended.
Several Symptoms charmed already with the fact that they had not appeared in front of home audience for such a long time (over three years) and re-discovering them was sweet. Their programme included just the right amount of mild rhythms and interesting elements combined of different genres (noise, electro, house, drum & bass, synthpop) in order to enjoy the concert and hope that they would perform again soon.
Saturday night’s live performances started with Edasi presenting their new album „Fake Wheel“. It is a group that, as it’s said on the festival’s website, “flows around the rotten no-man’s-land between black metal, psychedelics and noise music.“ The performance really was rather intense with both its musical noise elements as well as the accompanying bright and fast-paced light picture.
Next, Mauno Meesit’s Varjudemaa Trio consisting of Mauno Meesit, Tiit Kikas and Jaagup Tormis took to the stage. Before they started, Mauno said a couple of words about the choices and approaches to his musical expression. He referred to John Cage’s song „4’33“ and explained how his objective is to build different layers of sound on top of silence. It was an immensely accurate and useful explanation before losing oneself in the music made by the trio. With every song, another attractive layer of sound was placed on top of the last by using different musical instruments and methods of playing them. In order to enrich one song, they used the help of actress Karin Rask, who performed a short text about the meaningfulness of long shadows, leaving the music on the backdrop for the moment. It could be seen that the trio’s collaboration was smooth, they understood each other’s wishes and forms of expression and complemented each other instead of trying to play over one another.
The third performer of the evening was opera singer Kirsten Morrison. Her performance gained prominence among others for the various visual solutions, Kirsten’s charisma and the synthesis of opera song and powerful electronic music. The visuals ranged from alternating abstract images to video clips of half-naked women. It was unusual to hear opera song and electronic bass music together, but it was also incredibly exciting, creating an inner conflict, about which I cannot be quite sure whether it worked for me or not yet.
The last performance in Punane maja was Erik Alalooga’s industrial spell „Katastroof ja dünaamika“ (“Catastrophe and Dynamics”), featuring actor Eduard Tee, lighting artist Karolin Tamm and video artist Carmen Seljamaa. It was a very influential piece, focusing on the looping rhythms picked up from the surfaces of different machines and proletarian beatnik Aleksei Gastev’s revolutionary (Russian language) text. The centre of the topic was supported by light and video solutions, which helped to get even closer to the catastrophe idea.
The boys from the electronic music duo Juju & Jordash used analogue synthesisers and drum machines to create live music, with which they made cheerful and somewhat nostalgic soundscapes reminiscent of the 1980s. The synthesiser sounds take one in one’s mind, or rather one’s unconscious, back into the time of „Twin Peaks“ and „The X-Files“.
The festival was put together in a really exciting manner, with something to listen to anyone remotely interested and open to innovative attempts in music. Although there were not too many people, the ones that did attend were certainly real music lovers, musicians themselves or at least connected to the music world somehow. Therefore, the festival seemed like an autumn dose of some new and interesting, different and mind-broadening music for those who really love it.
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