A pinch of surrealism, modern folklore and talharpa revival! The old and the new stick together like water and sleet in Puuluup’s oeuvre. They play 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.

The lyrics and melodies are a mixture of their musical memories and improvisation. The music may have a dancing beat, or resemble a dark film soundtrack, spy around in the chambers of ancient talharpa players, or travel to far-away lands. They sing about wind turbines, heroes from Polish TV series, fat cakes and the uncomfortable feeling that your neighbor’s dog might try to bite you while you take out the trash.

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.

Weird and charming.

Awards and nominations

Award of Estonian Cultural Capital 2020 for bringing exotic winds and enriching unique Estonian folk music.

Estonian Music Awards 2019: winner of Best Ethnic/Folk Album of the Year + nominated as the Best Album of the Year.

Awards in three different categories by Estonian Traditional Music Centre (2019), including award by Raadio 2 (Estonian Public Broadcasting).

Nomination for the best newcomer title by Estonian Traditional Music Center in 2014 and for the best neofolk group in 2015 and 2016.




Thursday evening is ushered in by Puuluup, an Estonian duo that self-identify as “neo-zombie-post-folk.” They wring the most bewildering array of sounds from their talharpas, a form of Northern European lyre, whether by drumming, bowing, plucking, or brushing them. From such seemingly rudimental equipment, the rhythms that they loop and the melodies that they harmonize are immediate crowd-pleasers; by the time they demonstrate the two-step dance-along for one of their closers, the growing audience need no convincing. It’s folk, it’s contemporary, it’s funny, and it’s danceable. It’s a perfect launching pad for the weekend.

Max Pilley, Under the Radar (April 15, 2019)