wed 19/06/2024

Album: Maarja Nuut - Hinged | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Maarja Nuut - Hinged

Album: Maarja Nuut - Hinged

Musical impressionism from Estonia exists in its own space

Maarja Nuut's 'Hinged': nothing is made explicit

Hinged ends with “Moment,” a vaporous mood piece where a reflective voice lightly floats over and weaves between two, three-note keyboard arpeggios, occasional Gamelan-style percussive interjections and odd bubbling sounds. “Moment of clarity” are the final words.

Earlier, “A Feast” is rhythmically more unyielding but the directness is offset by a vocal where phrases phase in and out as if being subjected to Doppler effect. Again though, a sense of otherness suggests that what appears to be electronic music is rooted in the organic: an apartness placing what’s heard between two worlds. The liminality, this ambiguity, is most apparent on “Vaheala Valgus” (which translates as “I Hear Behind the Moon”) where the voice is similarly indirect and the overall mood intimates disconcerting ritual activities deep in a forest.

The creator of these arresting pieces is Estonia’s Maarja Nuut. Initially a folk-based violinist, her earliest recordings  fashioned a frosty, potent music built from loops. Subsequently, there were explorations into a form of techno-tinged soundscape electronica. Hinged is neither. While the album is closer in spirit to her adventures with transforming folk, this is farther out, more contemplative and more about structure and dynamics than the brushes with electronica archetypes. Odd comparators or fellow travellers spring to mind: Brilliant Trees David Sylvian, Iceland’s mũm, Norway’s Arve Henriksen and the earliest iterations of Jon Hassell’s Fourth World music, especially the Possible Musics album. The contributions of Swiss percussionist Nicolas Stocker to three tracks distract, are intrusive and feel unnecessary.

Thematically, Hinged plays on the English meaning of the word where things are linked, and the Estonian meaning of departed spirits and soul. Two worlds again. As for the final track’s declaration of clarity, nothing is made explicit. This applies to figuring out where it was created. Crucially, Hinged is impossible to place geographically. It exists in its own space.

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