Steso, Orka, Swangah, Lív Næs и Guðrun & Bartal

Steso «Proper Fucked» (Tutl, 2012)

To judge by the album’s title of the project Steso, which involved several well-known Faroese musicians, these eight compositions don’t seem to be very cheerful. So it is. All is decay. Moreover, complete and entire. The chief responsible for ambient, rock and chill-out (these genres the Facebook group uses to define its creative work) musical setting of this deadly dullness is Hergeir Staksberg. He’s written the major part of the compositions; he plays the guitar, bass, and sings. The second author is ggjas Olsen, whom we know also by the great debut album of Rebekka Petersen, that couldn’t be so nice without his concern.

There’re a lot of other musicians, which have contributed to the definitive result. For example, the vocal of Ása Wraae smoothly integrated into the record, and added it the exquisite charm: «Anechoic Chamber» and «Hákunargenta» sound impossibly great. Besides, the presence of Ólavur Jákupsson and Jens L. Thomsen in «Proper Fucked» is not a coincidence. The consonance of Steso with Gestir is absolutely evident. The CD appeared very beautiful, and, despite the terrible gloominess, I want to listen to it again and again. Concerning the gloominess. The album is dedicated to Rasmus Rasmussen, who left this life in 2012 under very tragic conditions. Being aware of his death history, the album’s cover, its title and the clear flavor of grief in each song make even more dramatic effect.

Orka «Live At Trans Musicales» (Tutl, 2012)

I’ve already reviewed to Orka’s albums. In my view, this Faroese band can be justly called legendary. Each their album is a true confession. Yes, the first album is loaded with industrial-noise, the second – with electronic music and English language, but you can’t fail to notice, that the authors of this complex and versatile project are very talented. Both individually and combined. «Live At Trans Musicales» is a record from live concert. Usually, such CDs are secondary with regard to the main discography, but not for Orka. I think, that played-on-the-spot band’s compositions sound especially good. They’re not polished at the recording studio, and reveal the original idea of playing the spades, barrels and turning lathes instead musical instruments at its best. It’s a true original industrial music, which makes the heart soar. The album is also interesting with the number of songs, which one can hear only once, and Yann Tiersen (the very man, who’d written the music for “Amelie”), playing the noiselin (the kind of infernal violin). I think, these facts are sufficient for listening to this, filled with wild energy, record. So, be careful. There’s a risk, that you’ll be eager to get tickets for Orka’s concert. Fingers crossed, that they didn’t haul their surrealistic instruments off, and our dream will come true one day.

Swangah «Undirgangstónar» (Tutl, 2013)

Probably, there are not so many rappers on the Faroe Islands. At least, Swangah is the only rap-band I know. The first, I’d like to say about their album «Undirgangstónar» — it grooves. Not always, though, but generally – yes. We hear rather viable hip-hop (I beg musical adepts’ pardon, as I don’t see big difference between rap and hip-hop) with evident elements of gangster rap. Unless the guys read love poems, or tell about pretty flowers in the backyard in such a deep voice. Thus, lyrical compositions happen to be, so all kinds of “l’amours” and cute fluffy pets are necessary. One of the major Swangah’s pluses is that they sing in their native language. There’s ten a penny of English rap, but there’s no Faroese rap, and moreover, such proficient. Because of this yet this record is so unique. Put it together with a confident presentation, loud, deep bits, and a slightly alarm, but exciting atmosphere, which we already feel from the album’s cover. Very nice cover, besides.

Lív Næs «Keldufar» (Tutl, 2012)

In usual for a Russian man view, the blonde beauty Lív Næs is bard. Of course, her album «Keldufar» is not so green as he looks. It’s arranged very creatively, but with all its tunes it can be placed somewhere between pop music and troubadour lyrics. However, we shouldn’t ignore the presence of folk and rock elements. The most interesting is that the album is rather eclectic. It’s very good, and shows the versatile talent of the singer on the one hand, on the other, such true masterpieces, like «Heystarblóman», fade amid such lovely, but quite plain songs. There’re no pabulum songs too. All compositions are good to some extent. The «Grind» is intriguing, «Rósan» has a beautiful melody, the duet with Tróndur Enni in the song «Meg Droymdi» with a clear play of violin is great. But all the abovesaid can’t be referred to the rest of compositions. The songs sound flat, and the voice doesn’t seem very original, it only leaves mingled impressions from the whole album. Thus, if we listen to the «Keldufar» first, and remind ourselves, that the album is debut, we can surely say that it’s successful. I wonder, what’s next.

Guðrun & Bartal «Vónin Er» (Tutl, 2013)

If I had to make a list of my Faroese musicians’ favorite albums, I’d put «Vónin Er» on this list without doubt. The fact, that it stands along with the «Story Music» of  Teitur, «Room» of Eivør, "Beyond The Grey" of Guðrið (it’s the first CDs, which I’ve recalled first, somehow) didn’t embarrass me in no way. First of all, it’s the most beautiful thing, which had ever been by Tutl. The exquisite cover frames the debut work of Guðrun Pætursdóttir and Bartal Augustinussen. The songs (besides, the text and music are written by Bartal) in the album match the design of the cover perfectly. If you want to define them as lullabies, you’ll be absolutely right. The just (I dare say, the magic) voice of Guðrun floats above the beauty of skillfully arranged, piercing melodies; the simple Bartal’s fingerstyles are changed by the airy tunes of keyboard. By the way, many well-known persons participated in the album recording, but the main contribution belongs to Mikael Blak, Høgni Lisberg and Benjamin Petersen. A special thanks for vocals in «Vinurin» (the most vivid track in the album) to Finnur Koba.

Reviewer by Anton Kovalsky.

Translated by Irina Boiko.

Russian version reviewer.