Anneliis Lepp: Experimentarium aka Tallinn Music Week in the House of the Blackheads on March 31 and April 1

Selecting the concerts at this year’s Tallinn Music Week, their alternativeness and innovativeness were the weightiest factors for me. Two concert programmes, which matched this requirement perfectly, were Üle Heli x Nonclassical x Japan Sound Portrait Night and Klassikaraadio’s (Classical Radio) contemporary music night. Of course, this does not mean that the other spectacles were somehow less appetising, but in comparison to the concerts that took place in the Blackheads several of them seemed artists-wise more easily available.

The event series of Üle Heli have embedded themselves on the local music scene with their artists who make more untraditional music and more exploratory concert programmes. It must be said that in addition to local Üle Heli music festival, London-based label Nonclassical and BBC’s radio journalist Nick Luscombe were responsible for the concert evening at the House of the Blackheads.

The evening’s opening concert of the collective bearing the name of a socially critical undertone, There Are No More Four Seasons, charmed with its experimentalism, which was composed of electronic music and movements played on classical violin. Having listened to them before the concert, I understood that this kind of music necessitates a very specific emotion and I had not had that feeling at home. But St. Olaf’s Guild Hall of the House of the Blackheads was ideal for it, as in its atmosphere it was possible for my soul to resonate with these sonic vibrations. Hauschka, which performed the next, definitely set the expectations for this evening very high. For those who do not know, let me explain that the natural cosmetics brand Dr. Hauschka and this music genius have no connection whatsoever. At least as far as I am aware. Hauschka, who made music behind the piano in the cosy St. Olaf’s Guild Hall, governed the sounds directed towards our ears with delicate tenderness and confidence. Hauscka had no difficulties experimenting with the prepared piano and electronic music. He performed a track written for four pianos with one existing Estonia piano superbly. He also made the sounds created by things thrown to the ground masterfully work for him. It seemed there is not a single sound, which would not sound well, composed under Hauschka’s hand. Thinking back to the concert, I am still overwhelmed by some special feelings, which is why I have tried to avoid listening to Hauschka at home. Just to make sure that the experience of the concert would stay in my mind authentically as long as possible.

There were other surprisers at the Friday’s Blackheads’ showcase, who surpassed all expectations. Out of local performers, one of them was doubtlessly Argo Vals, the changes in whose sound language could certainly be detected by even the less experienced ears. It seems that Vals has started to enrich the sound waves of his electric guitar with more pop-sounding electronic beats. Similarly surprising was Mart Avi. Although I have a heard a lot of good about his performances, he still managed to shock me with his comprehensive production and performance. I do not know whether this comparison sounds like a cliché regarding Avi, but I could not prevent drawing parallels between him and Ian Curtis. There is definitely something Ian-Curtis-like in him. I was also surprised by the Estonian collective Eeter, whose creation I jokingly define as the electronic music of the earth religion followers to myself. The highlight of this showcase for me was definitely the British band Flamingods, who managed to make even the neater and duller Estonians dance by including instruments from different cultures. Their crazy psychedelic indie-music was what woke everyone up after listening to more chamber-like Japanese music. The five-member band, each of whom seemed a bit strange, heated up the air of the House of the Blackheads and filled my soul with a positive charge of energy.

If the mood of the audience at the Friday’s showcase in the House of the Blackheads was rather sublime, a chamber-like, but also festive atmosphere prevailed during Klassikaraadio’s contemporary evening. There was a lot to celebrate, specifically, it was the birthday of Klassikaraadio. On this important day, the evening was kicked off by ekke, who experiments with the modular synthesiser, and ensemble U. This visual side of this performance was taken care of by Tencu. An exhilarating audiovisual concert was given by the Dutch collective In Code, who in collaboration with the network C3IC aimed at touching the boundaries between the classical and contemporary electronic music at their concert. I am glad that In Code’s performance was ended by a concert in which local artists ekke and ensemble U were also involved.

The following programme of the evening was exciting in a number of ways. For example, new works by several composers premiered this evening. Among them were Ardo Ran Varres’s work „Die Luftballonmusik” for violin and young composer Lauri Jõeleht’s work “Öö saabumine” (“Arrival of the Night”) performed by the duo Duo Telluur, which consists of the classical guitar and the English horn. The Finnish collective Korvat Auki with their improvisational repertoire raised questions about improvising for me. I started to think, how it is born. Is there some sort of a backbone in place or is it all free improvisation? In any case, Korvat Auki proved for me how successfully one can be ingenious and experimental with the help of the sounds made with all sorts of random objects (like crackling paper). The performance of the girls’ choir Ellerhein charmed with its scenic elements and I really liked their slightly jazz-like version of Robert Jürjendal’s work „Veel”. I was glad to hear the ovations Ellerhein’s concert sparked in the foreign delegates and their wonder at how such concerts attract enough audience considering our small nation.

In conclusion, Klassikaraadio’s contemporary music evening illustrated the new trends in modern music very well. The glance is definitely cast in the direction of electronic music, the more experimental and explorative side of which is also valued in the making of contemporary music and instrument-playing. For example, the double bass player Kristin Kuldkepp, who also performed at the concert, has aimed to study how the specific movements of playing an instrument influence the sound with the help of motion sensors. This no longer sounds like technological utopia. Nor the fact that the artificial intelligence can soon take song-writing over from humans. I would like to hope though that this will not happen very soon, as these two showcases of Tallinn Music Week proved how many talented people there are both here and elsewhere in the world.