If there’s ever a label I count on to churn out some interesting artists, it’s Altrock, which means that bands like the Estonian septet Wrupk Urei shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Yet, they are a surpise, and a pleasant one at that. Hailing from a country in Northeastern Euorpe that I’m sure most of us ‘Muricans’ don’t know anything about (except for Metstatoll in the metal scene perhaps), Wrupk Urei serves as a reminder that interesting music is happening all around the globe. Beyond that, their recent album, Kõik saab korda, shows that good music can be fun, catchy, humorous, and even danceable while maintaining a certain artistic edge.
The album kicks it off with “Koik saab korda,” an interesting piece that revolves around the developing of a single motif that becomes more and more exciting as the rest of the band builds around it. What starts off as analog synth noise develops into the aforementioned theme, presented at first as a single synthesizer melody with long breaks and loads of tension before slowly crafting its 5/4 mechanism with a gorgeous tapestry of drums, bass, synth, guitar, and tuned percussion. Right from the start Wrupk Urei delivers a truly masterful showing of how far you can take a repeated melody. This sort of idea is prevelant throughout the album. For example, the next track, “Termiitide tervitus” throws down a single riff while letting the quirky drumming blow the track out of proportion. These sorts of tendencies are what I would consider a defining feature of Wrupk Urei, whether that’s making an entire track a practice in upbeat minimalism or confining this particular skill to individual song sections. Either way, the result is usually pretty awesome.
As previously mentioned, Kõik saab korda in no way tries to avoid having fun, and a number of tracks on the record are witness to this. “Veenuse koopas” is essentially an old school psychedelic dance party, replete with big groove, barking dogs, pick scratches, random noise, etc. “Sai ju räägitud” pulls in the surf vibe with old school riffing before a huge and melodic chorus of catchy chord changing with enough texture to last you til next Thanksgiving; simple, but so much cooool! If there’s one piece though that really made me want to get up out of my chair and rock, it would be “Vähemalt 500 noukogude tanki.” The amount of groove in these basslines, mixed with an assault of monstrous baritone sax and little flurries of keys and marimba on the side, make for a birthday party waiting to happen. In fact, let’s have that party, now.
I hope this review hasn’t been too silly, but in the end Wrupk Urei’s Kõik saab korda is probably one of the funnest albums you’ll hear all year. The first listen through was kind of a shocker since I wasn’t expecting something this catchy, but hopefully there’s some room in your collection for something that is simple on the surface and upbeat with a level of depth that only accomplished musicians could manage.