What to get when you mix a pinch of surrealism, a bit of modern folklore, a heaping helping of talharpa revival/ rebellion and blend it together through effect blocks and loopers? The answer is the neo-zombie-post-folk Estonian duo Puuluup!
Ramo Teder and Marko Veisson have virtually resurrected the ancient talharpa (bowed lyre), popular in Northern Europe since the early middle ages and played on Western Estonian islands until the beginning of 20th century. But this is not an ethnomusicological romp. Puuluup directs the vibrations of the talharpa’s horsehair strings through effects, using alternative bowing and rhythm techniques. The mellow sighs of talharpa are paired with electronically amplified echoes, knocks, creaks and crackles, while still maintaining the instrument’s natural sound. And it is all presented with a unique sense of humor, originality and what can only be described as offbeat charm.
Puuluup play with music as they play with words. The melodies are a mixture of their various musical memories and improvisation. The music may have a dancing beat, or resemble a dark film soundtrack, or a glimpse into the chambers of ancient talharpa players, or evoke a journey to far-away lands. The lyrics are based on everyday neuroses, or the writings of Max Weber or trees. They sing about wind turbines, heroes from Polish TV series, zombies, fat cakes and the uncomfortable feeling that your neighbor’s dog might try to bite you while you take out the trash.
Sometimes they sing in their own invented language. As the duo states: “We draw inspiration from Vormsi nights, trams in November, junkies in love, criminals from Odessa and Antonio Vivaldi.” Indeed. Live the duo is dynamic, both in the performance of their music and their unique and irreverent stage presence, offering quirky choreographic flittering - often seated - which emerged rather organically during the numerous days Ramo and Marko spent in rehearsal rooms.