Puuluup was formed in 2014 by two talharpa enthusiasts Ramo Teder and Marko Veisson. Ramo Teder is a multi-instrumentalist and has been known for his long solo project Pastacas. He is also a looping pioneer in Estonia and has mastered these skills for twenty
years already. Marko Veisson has a background in anthropology and his fieldwork in Northern Ghana as well as his love for West-African music have definitely influenced Puuluup’s style.
They play their own compositions on talharpas – a traditional bowed lyre, popular in Northern Europe since the early Middle Ages and played on Western Estonian islands until the beginning of 20th century. Puuluup directs the vibrations of talharpa’s horsehair strings through effect blocks and looper, uses alternative bowing and drumming techniques and sounds. The mellow sighs of talharpa are paired with electronically amplified echoes, knocks, creaks and crackles, while still maintaining the instrument’s natural sound. They play with music as they play with words, sometimes creating their own language. As the band states: “We draw inspiration from Vormsi nights, trams in November, junkies in love, criminals from Odessa and Antonio Vivaldi”. As a side dish, when giving live concerts they also offer choreographic flittering which emerged on its own during the numerous days these two man spent in the rehearsal rooms.
Because of their unique approach to this traditional instrument Puuluup received several music awards in Estonia including the best Band, the best Ensemble, for the best Album. Their popularity in Estonia and abroad is rapidly growing. The band performed in Canada, China, Chile, France, Germany, Ukraine, Taiwan.
Ramo Teder – talharpa, vocal, looper and effects pedals
Marko Veisson – talharpa, vocal, effects pedal board
Talharpa was popular in Northern Europe since the early middle ages but it was replaced by more modern instruments everywhere except Western Estonia and Karelia, where the tradition lasted until the beginning of 20th century. In Estonia it was played most recently by the Swedish population and was especially popular on Vormsi island, where it remained the dominant musical instrument until the end of 19th century.
However, in the heat of religious awakening initiated by Swedish missionary Lars Johan Österblom, Vormsi locals decided that talharpa is an instrument of the devil. So, they made a pile of their talharpas and burned them. Just few men kept their instruments and continued playing. During the Second World War most Vormsi population emigrated to Sweden and the talharpa tradition died out. It was reawakened by a few enthusiasts from Sweden, Finland and Estonia half a century later. Estonian Swedish talharpa and Finnish jouhikko have found new breathing rather recently in these countries and Puuluup plays an important part in Estonian talharpa revival by popularizing the instrument and inspiring new people to join the talharpa community. However – talharpa acts rather strangely in the hands of Puuluup. It is electrified, looped, and often played in experimental techniques. It reminds the old tradition but definitely has another agenda as well.