FolkWorld article by Eelco Schilder:

Faroe Islands Leading Record Label exists 25 years
A review of a few cd's from their folk cd catalogue

Not more than 45.000 people live on the Faroe islands. These islands can be found on the map in the triangle Scotland, Norway Iceland. This year the Faroe islands own label Tutl exists 25 years. It was started in 1977 and still has the same ideology as 25 years ago. Tutl is owned entirely by the musicians, composers and other people who are involved in releasing music on the Faroe islands. The label focuses on Folk, Jazz, ethnic and rock but also other styles of music can be found in their catalogue. In this article/review you will get a short look into their catalogue. Especially into their folk and ethnic cd's of course.

Spaelimennir CD CoverThe main folk-bands from these islands were the different Spælimennir (folk-musicians) groups. Already in 1977 the first Spælimennir group recorded their first album. The group was called Spælimennir i Hoydølum and this first album contained music from the Faroe islands but also from Sweden and Denmark and a few dances from Scotland. On their second album Umafter which was published in 1978, they brightened their horizon and included music from Iceland, Norway and Ireland. Their final album was recorded live in 1983 and was called A ferd. Besides the name Spælimennir i Hoydølum. Many members of this group also recorded albums under the name Spælimennir. Same style and music from the same area but also self-written material. This group still excists and will be performing at some festivals this summer. (as soon as I know more I will let you know on the folkworld news-page)Their latest cd Flõd & Fjøra dates from 1996. The group still has the same style but the sound got much better. The traditional music is brought in a gentle way and has a positive feeling. It has influence from different Nordic countries but also from different music styles like jazz and classical music. You'll find energetic dances next to sober piano music. Traditionals next to new traditionals like the fantastic tune Konvulsionslat which is written by Hedningarna's Anders Stake. Although Spælimennir's version is very different from the original, they show that they have the fantasy to bring this tune in a total different atmosphere.
In the past there has been one other Spælimennir group which has different members than the previous named groups. This Glatadu Spælimennir recorded one album in 1982 called Gluggamynd. This album doesn't contain traditionals but new material with folk influences. This record is a bit more adventures than the ones by the other Spælimennir groups. A psycho touch, female vocals and interesting musical arrangements. With all three the Spælimennir groups, the Faroe islands prove that their folk scene has been very much alive during past and present.

Eivør Pálsdóttir CD CoverFor most readers it will be more interesting to know what's happening in the present. I already mentioned the last Spælimennir cd earlier but there is much more going on. If we look at the last few years one name impresses me most; Eivør Pálsdóttir. Her solo cd from 2000 (no title) is impressive. She recorded a few traditionals but most songs on this cd are original.
Accompanied by guitar, contrabass and percussion only, Eivør impresses with her clear and powerful voice. The cd has (like almost all folk cd's from the Faroe islands) a soft jazz touch but most of all has a very own sound. Her name also turns up on the cd of pianist/composer Kristian Blak & Ygdrassil called Ygdrassil. This beautiful cd contains ice cold Nordic jazz music highly inspired by the Nordic landscape. Most songs are traditionals with musical arrangements of the band. It's a totally different approach of traditional music than I'm used to and I enjoy this very much. The music is small but very intense. Eivør Pálsdóttir sings like a ice-goddess straight to my heart. I'm far from a jazz person but this kind of music I simply can't resist.
The third cd on which Eivør Pálsdóttir does the vocals is a six song EP by the group Clickhaze. Very different music than the traditional style on the cd's mentioned above. On this EP it's like the group wants to try a few different styles. The first song Daylight has such a catchy, pop melody that this could be a top ten hit if it was promoted the right way. Great is the song sorrig og glæde which could be a Garmarna song. This traditional song is brought in a dark and heavy way. Although not as balanced as Garmarna, this song shows the potential of this group.

Yggdrasil CD CoverThe Tutl label also publishes co-operations between Faeroe musicians and musicians from other countries. The cd Piniartut, for example, has Tellu Virkkalla from Finland on vocal and other musicians from Finland and Greenland along. The cd is a mixture of Nordic folk, throat singing and some experimental music. I love the vocals by Tellu and this album has many strong moments although it's not always easy to follow the composers ideas. Another co-operation is the group Enekk. With their cd Fýra nætur fyri jól they bring original and traditional music with a poppy sound. Besides the musicians from the Faroe Islands there also play two Bulgarian folk musicians on this cd. Somehow the music doesn't get to me. I hear some nice melodies but the vocals lack the essential touch which makes music more than just nice music. The songs all have the same atmosphere, I miss variation and a bit more depth into the music.
One of the best albums I heard on this label contains musicians such as Karen Tweed, Ian Carr, Nanne Luders, Eskil Romme and Peter Uhrbrand. These international companions just recently released a beautiful cd called Faerd. The cd contains mostly Danish heroic ballads with Faroese melodies. It has fresh and modern musical arrangements and listening to this cd is like reading an old travel book. Strong vocals, smooth tunes from skilled musicians. This cd is essential and should be in any serious folk collection.

Faerd CD CoverIf you want to get an impression of the albums released on the Tutl label please order the cd Tutl 2000 folk/ethnic. This cd contains 16 songs from even as much artists. It gives a nice overview on the music published on the Faroe Islands until 2000.
For people interested in Ethnic music the cd Alfagurt ljódar min tunga would be more interesting. This cd contains examples of traditional vocal traditions like the Kvædi, Skjaldur, Visa, Tattur and Kirkjussangur. In total 26 songs of Ethnic music.
Tutl also released one of the first folk records ever from the Faroe Islands: Harkalidid. This record was originally released in 1971 and shows the wonderful vocal tradition which is very close to Scottish music. On this album you will also hear Ian McCalman play.
Besides all the folk or folk influenced cd's mentioned in this article. People who like jazz music should check their big jazz catalogue which contains some nice works from composer/pianist Kristian Blak and other artists. Tutl also released some rock music, check their webpage to buy cd's and get more information.

On all above mentioned cd's can be ordered. It also contains more information about artists and music styles.

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