Those »free« give-away CDs that come with your favourite music magazine are forever lost in time. You listen to them once or twice, and then they’re filed away under »various artists« (C’mon, you don’t throw them away, do you?!). Who digs them out after a few years? Who buys these when they’re up for grabs in Music & Record Exchange?
Well, we do. We meet at tea time, someone brings a bottle, another made some cookies, and then we listen to one of these strange compilations that came with Songlines, Uncut, MusikExpress, The Wire or Spex. First up is this:
Estonian Music Now 2011 (compiled by the Estonian Ministry Of Culture, and given away with an issue of The Wire in 2011)
1. Galina Grigorjeva: There Is A Time For Autumn
Ominous bells and vibes start this piece for six percussionists. Rumbling drums and marimba create a free form soundscape, evoking a grey dawn and the feeling of something about to happen.
2. Peeter Väähi: Whitelight
The soundtrack to a choreographic scene, performed by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. More marimba. Spooky, high-pitched voices are added to the end section – which don’t make things more peaceful…
3. Taavo Remmel: 12.12.2006
A live double bass/electronics improvisation from (of course) 2008. This begins with lone string sounds and (naturally) undecipherable vocals which evolve into some baltic muezzin hollering while the strings get into a slow pulsing rhythm.
4. UMA: Civitas Soli
Ethereal atmosphere, sounds a bit like a Bill Laswell ambient mix of a Miles Davis track. Duo performance of guitar/electronics and trumpet. If this were a movie soundtrack, we’ve moved indoors by now, probably into some old spacey church hall. A beautiful track.
5. Wochtzchée: Sissejuhatus Sissejuhatusse
We’re back in Eno-land, with pulsing water-drop synth… but there’s a crazy crackling sound which turns this into something ominous. And then a sequencer is added and it all builds into a rather Lynchian episode.
6. LokaalRaadio: 121108
Another live improv: guitar, violin, mixing board and electronics. Soundtrack-wise we’re now out on the Baltic Sea, all grey skies, distant horns and disappearing lighthouses.
7. Kago: Aigut/Yawni
A short interlude of strange, strangulated vocal sounds.
8. Erkki Luuk/Raul Keller: Aia Lopp
Sampled (?) speech that finally sounds proper ex-Sowjet. Nagging electronics make background drone. The speaker sounds like a press officer from the Finnish Parliament, making excuses…
9. Tuule Kann/Jaak Sooäär: Pakana
Performed on some Estonian zither and guitar, this sounds vaguely like two musical boxes playing simultaneously. Strangely enticing – could be an instrumental interlude from a Bjørk album.
10. Rainer Jancis: Fragment Il Juga
The Fred Frith school of solo guitar – all manner of string mangling is employed, but all in all this has a quiet assurance. And even a bit of melody.
11. ASK: Tenniselugu
Electronic soundscapes with someone reciting scandinavian phrases seem to be quite big in Estonia. This time it sounds like an instructor in a sports hall, commenting some wicked ball game. Attack of the giant tennis ball. »Fooosball! Foosball!!« But it eventually calms down…
12. Deyal: Insert Name
Groovy percussion makes this similar to an exotic rhythm experiment from someone like David Byrne. Shuffles and skanks along quite nicely.
13. Weekend Guitar Trio: Linnulaat
…which doesn’t prepare us for this quirky polka tune, performed on guitars, E-bow and toy synth. Like a drunken Ry Cooder, lost in a bird market. Fabulous.
14. Celia Roose/Tuule Kann/Robert Jürjendal/Arvo Urb: Siili Silma
Now it gets folky: female singer, bagpipe, jew’s harp – but there are some wobbly electronics underneath and the jaunty rhythm has a dark shadow. Something mad going on here.
15. Kreatiivmootor: Irratsionaalne
And finally some No New York sounds: gabbering vocals, clattering acoustic guitar and grinding, primitive synths. Psycho Killer meets Pere Ubu in a Baltic backstreet. »Irratsionaalne indeed!«
If you can forget all about this being curated by a ministry of culture, it is quite a good listen. The tracks seem to blend into each other without sounding the same, and they form a marrative soundtrack in your imagination. If you like ECM albums, Eno’s Discreet Music series, David Lynch soundtracks and Cosmic Jokers LPs, you’ll really enjoy this. And: all three of us listened to this disc repeatedly on our own. On a Sunday morning, during an afternoon run, and while working.