Eivør, Analog Norð, Døgg Nónsgjógv, Drowned Session, Hamradun, Benjamin, Lyon, Ranchus and Punjab

As the memories of the 2015 are still fresh, I’m going to tell you about the nine worthy projects from the Faroese musicians, released by Tutl.  Each of them is quite different, and it’s not a metaphor – in my review, electronic music ranks together with rock’n’roll.

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Eivør «Slør» (2015)
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Faroese singer Eivør Pálsdóttir has released a great album «Bridges» this year, which I was about to nominate as, at least, one of the top 10 records of the 2015. It’s not the reason, though, to put aside her release «Slør». As you сan judge by the most beautiful letter «ø», the singer decided to treat us with both English and Faroese songs. What’s more, Eivør sings all compositions in her native language in the new record. This detail, undoubtedly, makes the «Slør» more authentic and reassures us, that blonde cutie isn’t going to compromise her integrity in chase of fame.  In last album, Pálsdóttir sounds not just convincing, but ten times stronger, than in «Bridges». While each song from «Bridges» is the diamond at jewelry store, all compositions from «Slør» are rough diamonds. No one knows, what they’ll be after she, but this makes them even more interesting. As Eivør states, these two plates are sisters, they’re related by many details, but still very different. And it’s true. «Slør» isn’t so much reserved, as the «Bridges». It glitters in its full splendor. Sometimes it’s very authentic (it’s enough to listen to the greatest «Í Tokuni», and the masterpiece «Trøllabundin», recorded in studio for the first time), sometimes unusually touching («Verd Mín», «Slør») or simply, as we used to say, cool («Brotin»). The design of albums deserves the highest praise (it’s wonderful, like that of «Bridges»).

Analog Norð «Lost & Found» (2015)

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The hard  musical stage of the Faroe Islands looks convincing. Týr and Hamferð can compete with lots of other similar bands, and even excel them at some aspects.  Electronic music, made in Faroe Islands, is very easy to recognize. Orka proved it by the album «Leipzig» in 2014, Hulda tried to do the same this year, but Analog Norð did it better. The debut album by Jan Rasmussen and his band was released in 2009 and won acclaim of the community, mentioned in a nomination of the Faroese Planet Awards. After long absence, Analog Norð returned with his new project «Lost & Found», in which each composition deserves attention (personally I’m really impressed by «Trying Too Hard»). Besides, from the second track «Fading Away» it feels like the new album in a project is a kind of an answer to the last Orka’s record.  Некоторые Some compositions can smoothly fit into «Leipzig», and we wouldn’t  even notice that. Consider «Each Other's Fears» and «Underground», for example.

Døgg Nónsgjógv «Nón» (2015)

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Døgg Nónsgjógv released, at last, the long-play this year, and I should admit – it’s adorable. If one couldn’t understand from the previous releases, what Døgg’s works are about, then «Nón», which is, by the way, also not very long (8 compositions take only 25 minutes), has put all things right. Døgg’s soft voice charms, each song is airy and tender.  Everything is beautiful about this musical story. 19-year аngel (just look at her) Døgg sings very touching songs, and wonderful guys like Jens L. Thomsen, Allan Tausen, Hans Marius Ziska (their magic duet one can listen to in the «Ongi Orð»), Hans Jacob Kollslíð (played the acoustic guitar and is co-author of some songs) help her in this project.  «Nón» turned out to be very emotional. While listening the record, you’ll be smiling («Tú Tók Mína Hond»), and then feel sad a little («Tú Ert Hjá Mær»). You’ll even find the cover on the song of Uni Arge «Túsundtals Ár» here. By the way, it sounds rather unusual. Even now we understand that Døgg is one of the most important discoveries of the Faroese music in 2015. Together with Thomsen, which proved his right to be named a genial producer, beautiful Nónsgjógv managed to turn her works into something more worthy and important, than simply hiking songs. Though, many factors could have led to it. Well done! I’m looking forward to her new albums.

Drowned Session «Home To The Wind» (2015)

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Awesome musicians, which play the mix of so-called dark folk and rock, released their first longplay «Home To The Wind» in 2015. This ensemble first appeared in 2013, and immediately released several singles. In 2014, they delivered mini album «Horses». Drowned Session, based in Copenhagen, keep with best genre traditions – the vocalist Атли Брикс Камбан, born in Tórshavn, plays the banjo and mandolin, what obliges sometimes to sound as Woven Hand, 16 Horsepower and, of course, Punch Brothers. Still, in comparison with Drowned Session, projects of David Eugene Edwards are rather gloomy, and band of Chris Thile, on the contrary – too cheerful. But generally, the bands’ art is similar. All the dark folk of the Faroese-Danish band surely contains a bit of alternative country, and even bluegrass. By the way, nobody has sense of dissonance  -  Камбан and other musicians feel very comfortable about such music. «Home To The Wind» is another great Faroese album of 2015, which I advise to listen to.

Hamradun «Hamradun» (2015)

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On the Facebook account, the band Hamradun describes its music as folk rock. And, despite the fact, that it’s not quite true (one can find here some Viking-metal), we better won’t contradict them. The leader of this splendor is the first vocalist of the cult band Týr, Pól Arni Holm. After Holm left the band in 2002, he started solo career, based on Faroese ballads. And Hamradun is, actually, an interpretation of some of them. Yes, several songs are written by Pól and Uni Debess (he also plays the guitar and bass guitar in Hamradun), but the spirit of traditional Faroese music is in each composition. The music of Hamradun, despite its old-fashionedness, sounded rather modernly in 2015. Apart from the gorgeous «Sneppan» at the beginning of the album, I should draw your attention to the 8-minute «Sinklars Vísa». I wanted to put it to “Repeat” and dance like the Faroese without stop. Almost clerical «Tað Er Ein Stutt Og Stokkut Løta» and the final «Kvæðið Um Hargabrøður» became a pleasant surprise. Though, I wasn’t right initially, distinguishing certain songs. The album appeared to be a solid substance, in which  each composition complement each other.

Benjamin «Perfume Variations» (2015)

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After successful 2014 year (the co-project “Ave” with Petur Pólson is really praiseworthy), Benjamin Petersen released a new album «Perfume Variations», which first appeared right after his May concert in Moscow. «Perfume Variations» is very harmonious with «Ghost With Skin», but, unlike the album of 2011 (unfortunately, Petersen isn’t fond of solо albums), Benjamin’s music has become more spacious (even too much). It’s become more ambient and meditative, and has got new rhythms («Perfume Shower», «More To Sadness»). One of the album’s most piercing compositions is «For The Honey», ‘cause dream-pop fits in it perfectly. Benjamin knows, that he’s a brilliant guitarist, and he shows his skills in the song «Travelling On». Still, you’ll find no similarities between «Ghost With Skin» and «Perfume Variations».

Lyon «Lyon» (2015)

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It’s another debut album with Lyon Hansen in a lead role. Lot of musical genres are mixed in the album «Lyon»: blues, rock, folk and many other “innovations”. And all this sounds rather naturally and, what’s most important, authentic. And if you’re very attentive, you’ll find something similar between Lyon’s works and Drowned Session, Dánjal, Høgni and Budam; still it’s rather a try to compare him with somebody than an ultimate truth. The greatest composition in this album for me is «Sister». It’s not so cheerful, as two previous tracks, but it’s still a bit straightforward – acoustic guitar and Lyon’s sweet vocals harmonize well. Better with each song. Apart from «Sister», I was impressed by «In Your World» (this compositions heats up the whole album), surprised by «Muddy Stream» (this magic la-la-la-la-la) and «Sarabande», lulled with «The Highlands». «Ode To War» reminded me of Nick Cave , and the «Sleep» simply entranced me. By the way, in «Miss Death»,  «Blood», «Glowing In The Dark», «A Ship» we hear the backing vocals and percussion of Benjamin Petersen (he also is a co-producer of the record, and recorded Lyon’s album with Theodor Kapnas at Studio Bloch and Bunkarin). There’s one more musician here, who’s also visited Russia – Per Ingvald Petersen. He’s always a great drummer.

Ranchus «Feeling Like A Caged Lion Pacing Behind One Way Glass» (2015)

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Rowdy-dowdy Ranchus released, at last, their debut album with hard rock’n’roll tracks. If you monitor the musical life of the Faroes, you’ll perhaps remember the funny video, where a woman dressed like a green dinosaur, playing Godzilla, wandered through the Faroes Islands and even destroyed a cardboard town. That is just the video (for stoner rock song «Promises» of our men of the day). The major part of songs in «Feeling Like A Caged Lion Pacing Behind One Way Glass» make your neck twitching with the music (oh, how wonderful is the «Revolver»), but there’s some lyrical music too. By the way, some of Ranchus’ slow songs resemble Radiohead. Impossible? Then listen attentively to some calm tunes of «Dew» and «Violet». The album, of course, may seem somewhat noisy, but, believe me, beneath this insanity with roaring guitars, there’s very bright music, that will be famous one day.

Punjab «The Flying Elephant» (2015)

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And a bit of funk-rock for the final. Music, performed by Punjab is very adult, the vocalist yells like a 40-year-old man, but, as it appears later, – he’s only 19, and other band members aren’t much older. Their album «The Flying Elephant» (debut album, by the way) sounds not simply convincing, but undoubtedly cool.  It’s such «The Best» of musicians, which have been playing funk the whole life, and decided to mark retirement with a compilation album. It’s, of course, great, but I can’t imagine what this band will be in some 10 years. Their career seems to be too perfect now, and we can’t guess, what their next step is. Should they release albums with perfectly played, but becoming more and more boring songs each year? It’s not my business, though. One should live in the present moment. And the present time gives to Punjab the first prize in two nominations: «Shock of the year» and «Coolness of the year», and I take off my hat to them. Guys, you’re real geniuses.

Reviewer by Anton Kovalsky.

Translated by Irina Boiko.