Preview: Tallinn Music Week 2022

Who to catch at this year's 'festival for tomorrow’s music'…

This year’s eclectic Tallinn Music Week promises to inspire and excite. With the festival spanning a multitude of venues across two cities (the Estonian capital of Tallinn and for the first time its easternmost city Narva) and sporting performances from 177 artists from around the globe, festival-goers are truly spoilt for choice.

To offer a helping hand in the planning process, here is a preview of seven must-see acts.

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Gentle Ropes (Kyiv, Ukraine)
Friday 6th 20:00 – World Clinic Stage, Kivi Paber Kaarid – Tallinn

Hailing from Kyiv, Ukraine, and having been granted a free sound residency during the festival (alongside Ukranian artists FO SHO and Krapka;KOMA), the gothic darkwave of Gentle Ropes will prove to be an unmissable addition to Tallinn Music Week.

A foreboding mix of synthesized post-punk intent, hypnotic rhythms and reverb-drenched voice and guitars, Gentle Ropes will be hauntingly vital at the World Clinic Stage in Tallinn, with recent material directly influenced by the ongoing Russian invasion of his homeland.

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The Bubble Gum expLOTION (Riga, Latvia)
The Bubble Gum expLOTION — TMW
Thursday 5th 22:30 – Soda Pop, Uus Laine – Tallinn

Set to whip up a weird and wonderful storm at the Soda Pop stage on Thursday, The Bubble Gum expLOTION of Latvian origin combine electro-skewed art pop, punk and psychedelia.

Since forming in 2017, the band have honed their craft through intense, engaging, sexual and anarchically liberated performances at various alternative music events. With their 2018 debut ‘Sexplotion’ garnering cult acclaim, festival-goers can expect a playful theatricality through choppy programmed beats, synthesised sensibilities, slapdash guitar and dual vocal prowess.

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Tirzah (London, UK)
Saturday 7th, 21:45 – Station Narva Stage, Kreenholm – Narva

Perhaps most recognisable for UK audiences, the gorgeous heart-on-sleeve tones of Tirzah are set to fill Station Narva on Saturday.

A fresh addition to the festival alongside Floating Points, we expect a gloriously characteric mix of assymetrical pop, ambient undertones and a drifting nonchalant romanticism. Material from her recent album ‘Colourgrade’ is likely to make regular appearance, released in 2021 and maintaining a continued collaboration with Mica Levi.

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Liis Ring (Tartu, Estonia / Gothenburg, Sweden)
Thursday 5th, 21:00 – Soda Pop, Uus Laine – Tallinn

Situating herself between Gothenburg (SE) and Tartu (EE), Estonia musician, sound artist, photographer and bird watcher Liis Ring is sure to captivate Thursday’s Soda Pop audience.

Recording and producing her own music in true DIY spirit since 2012, Liis has released two full-length albums to date. Her material both on record and on stage is characterised by unorthodox use of electroacoustic instrumental timbre, multi-layered textures combining field recordings with electronic hardware and a silky smooth vocal delivery.

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Galaktlan x Alex Wulf (Tartu, Estonia)
Friday 6th, 00:30 – Skanu Mežs, F-Hoone – Tallinn

The combined auditory prowess of ambient wizard Galaktlan and techno guru Alex Wulf is destined to mesmerise at Skanku Mezs on Friday night.

The pair will converge in Tallinn to create drifting, immersive soundscapes inspired by the city itself, and rest of their homeland Estonia. With Wulf having grown up during the collapse of the Soviet Union, escaping the hard times with nineties MTV and thus being introduced to the music of Moby and Chemical Brothers, their set will journey through an ethereal palette of deep electronic tropes.

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NAMVULA (London, UK)
Thursday 5th, 19:05 – Vilijandi Folk Music Festival x Africa NOW!, Vaba Lava – Tallinn

An inspiring proponent of African culture and greatly influenced by her roots, Zambian-Scottish singer-songwriter NAMVULA is a must-see at Thursday’s Vilijandi Folk Music Festival x Africa NOW! in Tallinn.

The sonic seemstress is expected to weave together a characteristic quilt, taking inspiration from jazz, Brit-folk and a plethora of styles across Africa. Her penmanship and vocal humanity defiant and enlightening, NAMVULA’s performance will place her in the role of orator, transporting listeners to worlds of joyous and raw freedom.

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Zahir (Tallinn, Estonia)
Friday 6th, 22:30 – Metal Stage, Von Krahl – Tallinn

Brash, unfettered and angsty since 1993, Estonian noise rockers Zahir are an enigma of sorts.

Set to play the Metal Stage on Friday night in their hometown Tallinn, the band had spent 25 years in fuzz-drenched obscurity before finally releasing their ultimate sonic weapon, LP ‘What Noise?’ in 2018, accurately capturing their explosive punk determinism and larger-than-life stage presence.

Building towards upcoming releases this spring, Zahir’s showcase will undoubtedly annihilate the eardrums of anyone in its path.

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Words: Kieran Macdonald-Brown

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