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Pia Fraus

Formed in 1998, Pia Fraus are a long-running shoegaze/dream pop group from Estonia. Their music blends Wall of Noise guitar effects with sweet vocal harmonies and autumnal electronics, lending itself well to extensive remixing. The band have issued numerous full-lengths and EPs through their own SekSound imprint, including 2006's Nature Heart Software and 2013 retrospective Silmi Island. Following the release of their sixth full-length, 2020's Empty Parks, Pia Fraus revisited some of their earliest material on 2021's Now You Know It Still Feels the Same. Pia Fraus started out slowly after meeting in high school in Tallinn. Guitarist/vocalist Rein Fuks and guitarist Tonis Kenkmaa formed the band with bassist Reijo Tagapere and drummer Joosep Volk. Cutting their teeth on the sounds of Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine, the group experimented with synthesizers and recruited vocalist Kristel Loide and keyboardist Kärt Ojavee. The band settled on the name Pia Fraus in autumn 1998 and began recording in 1999, recording the single "Blå." That session was soon followed by the recording of "Moon Like a Pearl," later featured on the Estonian Unsigned compilation on Operation B Records, and on the Clairecords' Atlantic Flowers disc. The group soon began regular recording sessions at Forwards Studios in Tartu, Estonia. 2001 saw the release of their debut disc, Wonder What It's Like, on their own Pia Records label. The album included remixes by Estonian electronic artists Njuu, Galaktlan, Snafu, and Lobsand Dorje. Pia Fraus immediately began to perform regularly in Eastern Europe, and their cover of "Condemnation" was featured on the 2001 Depeche Mode tribute disc No Hidden Catch on Kaleid Records. These early releases attracted the attention of California's Clairecords, which released the band's In Solarium CD in 2002. Produced by Njuu's Hendrik Luuk and Galaktlan's Taavi Laatsit, the album showcased the band's atmospheric wall of melodic sounds. Loide married soon after, becoming Kristel Eplik. She amicably left the group (2003's Plastilina EP was her final release with Pia Fraus) and was replaced on vocals by Eve Komp. Additionally, Margus Voolpriit replaced Volk as the band's drummer. With its revamped lineup, Pia Fraus released two EPs (2004's Mooie Island and 2005's Chromatic Nights, both compiled as Sailing on a Grapefruit Lake by Japanese label Vinyl Junkie) followed by its third studio effort, Nature Heart Software. In 2008, working with Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake as producer, Pia Fraus released After Summer. Album track "Yenissey" was the basis for Ten Remixes of Yenissey, which included mixes by His Name Is Alive, Future Pilot A.K.A., Seeland, and others. The group also collaborated with Ulrich Schnauss on a single titled "Mute the Birds." Following an extended period of silence, Pia Fraus returned in 2013 with Silmi Island, a compilation containing remixed, remastered, and re-recorded versions of songs from throughout their career, as well as a cover of My Bloody Valentine's "Strawberry Wine." Single "Autumn Winds" appeared in 2016, followed by "Cloudy Eyes" (the group's side of a split 7" with Rocketship) and "That's Not All," both in 2017. The band's long-awaited fifth album, Field Ceremony, followed in October of that year. A few EPs of remixes preceded Pia Fraus' sixth album, 2020's Empty Parks. The band celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album by re-recording some of the earliest songs they'd written, between 1998 and 2000. The revisited versions were released in 2021 as Now You Know It Still Feels the Same.
© Stephen Cramer & Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Discography

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