Review: Maarja Nuut & Ruum

Friday 28th September 2018 @ WORM
Thu 21 Feb '19

This is my first time attending a gig at WORM. After hearing so much about it, entering is a surreal experience. The Japanese aircraft parts that make up the interior are illuminated by blue and purple lights, along with the half of the audience who sit in anticipation on benches a few feet from the stage. You could say it is the perfect venue for a night of Estonian folk-influenced electronica.

Maarja Nuut & Ruum make little fuss as they enter the stage. In fact, they don’t even address the audience until halfway through their set. They operate as two individuals, motionless, barely exchanging a look as Ruum provides deep, sustained patches of sound for Maarja Nuut to loop her delicate violin and vocals over. In terms of set up, it’s far from conventional. Laptops, analogue synths, samplers, and strings are all present. Sound wise it’s like accidentally hearing two separate works being played over each other, and realising they work perfectly together. Their first few songs hypnotise the audience by building slowly over the course of a few minutes. The beginnings are ambient, the endings gentle. I’m not sure whether to applaud each piece or remain silent as Ruum creates another gentle hum, signifying the start of something new.

Then something shifts, even if only for one song. We are confronted by a pulsating beat, possibly coming from some sort of altered drum. For the first time rhythm takes centre stage, and it’s gloriously intense. The right arm of Maarja Nuut begins to frantically jab up and down as the violin playing becomes ever more erratic, yet still beautifully controlled. This is the best moment of the night, and yet it is over in what seems like an instant. Maarja Nuut & Ruum create cinematic, filmic landscapes of sound with ease, yet they are capable of getting people moving when they want to. And that’s the key, they choose the former. You have to respect them for that.

By the time the stage has been emptied I have lost all sense of time, yet gained plenty of musical inspiration.