Male vocal ensemble Ütsiotsõ CD “Puul’päiv”

Date of release: 20 May 2011
Publisher: Haki Helü
My role: producer, project manager (together with Taavi Tatsi)
Sound & field-recording: Patrick McGinley
Design: Andrus Kalkun

Ütsiotsõ is a vocal ensemble of four men rooted in southern Estonia. Ütsiotsõ sings traditional Estonian songs – regilaul – and arranges them in a very delicate and minimalistic way. Ütsiotsõ means “continuously”, “without stopping” in the local võro language and when they start to sing, it’s hard to stop. Most of the songs originate from south eastern Estonia and partly overlap with the UNESCO-listed Seto polyphonic song tradition while also drawing upon the songs that have preserved in the Estonian/Seto communities in Siberia.

What makes Ütsiotsõ special is their devotion and knowledge of tradition, enabling them to compose whole songs even when there are only fragments available in the archives. In Estonian context, it is also quite extraordinary that the singers are men as the regilaul tradition that has survived is mostly practised by women.

Ütsiotsõ’s first album “Puuĺpäiv” (literally meaning “half-day”, Saturday between the work week and Sunday) was released by Haki Helü in May 2011.

Lauri Sommer: “In these songs the main melody is always as it was sung in old recordings, but other voices may include the element of fantasy based on what we know about archaic singing. With our witty soundman Patrick “Murmer” McGinley we tried to find locations that were a bit more open to the mood of folk songs: the Great Outdoors of southern Estonia and some unusual Indoor settings. We sang on the shore of lake Peipus, in a deserted house at Apnassaarõ, in a field, forest, and barn in Räestü village, in the old village chapel of Ahunapalo; and in the Orthodox Church on Sõbra street and high up on Toomõmägi hill, both in Tartu. So let us sing ceaselessly…”

Listen to more song samples in SOUNDCLOUD.

Project blog (in Estonian):