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Kirile Loo: Saatus

Estonia, tucked up in the Northwestern corner of the region formerly-known as the USSR, has come out of hiding in terms of global culture in the last several years. Most notably, this occurred through the agency of composer Arvo Part, now considered one of the greatest living composers. This spring, they lured western media attention to a jazz festival which brought out saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who had played there 30 years prior, just before jazz was banned, declared as a corruptive influence under Communist dictates.

Estonian folk singer Kirile Loo’s album Saatus (Alula 1004; 54:49)-meaning “fate”-offers another glimpse into that country’s unique heritage. A gifted singer who studied music formally but was lured by the music sung by her grandmother, Loo sings pieces in the venerable tradition of “Regilaul,” or runic songs, which date back before Christ. Musicians perform on traditional Estonian instruments, coloring Loo’s bold, yet cool, vocal intensity. The recording is a bit too slick for its own good, colored by a goopy reverb and the occasional synthetic synth sound, perhaps in an appeal to the sonic particularities of the new age market, but injurious to the dignity of the music. Still, the surface annoyance can’t take away the deeper riches here.

Originally Published