Tartu Popi ja Roki Instituut, Symposium, Quinn Tsan, Two Carolines Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Tue., Jan. 13, 8 p.m. 2015

This eight-member combo from Tartu, Estonia, has clearly drawn serious inspiration from the music of Stereolab, combining Krautrock grooves, gurgling analog synthesizers, and bright melodic shapes gleaned from so-called sunshine pop acts like the Free Design. But Tartu Popi ja Roki Instituut—an unwieldy moniker that translates to the equally unwieldy Tartu Pop and Rock Institute—also taps some of its homeland’s sounds on the two impressive albums I’ve heard: 2006’s Estonian-language collection Biedermeier-Psychedelia and 2012’s English-language effort Madis’s Stamp Collection (both reissued digitally by the group’s new label, Chicago’s Minty Fresh). Runo-song, an ancient Estonian choral folk tradition marked by rich, elaborate harmonies, remains a common currency in the country, and the female singers in Tartu Popi ja Roki Instituut harmonize with such sophistication and precision that there’s little doubt they’ve got it in their blood. In fact, it strikes me that the group may well have mainlined records by an Estonian vocal-jazz ensemble from the early 70s called Collage, whose ornate constructions recall the work of the Swingle Singers (another key influence for Stereolab). Expect a new album this spring via Minty Fresh; tonight’s concert is one of only three performances on a short U.S. tour. —Peter Margasak

Price: $7

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