Entry Requirements: 18+
Already a well-known recording artist of over 16 years’ prolific output in her native Scandinavia, Slør, out May 26, 2017, is Copenhagen-based, Faroese talent Eivør’s first commercial release here in the UK. It’s been over 2 years in the making, with Slør actually an English-translated re-imagining of her Faroese-sung 2015 album release of the same title.
Growing up surrounded by the wild North Atlantic Ocean on one of the most northerly of the Faroe Islands, the inherently hermetic nature of the remote archipelago meant a teenaged Eivør’s musical diet was extremely filtered: Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Elvis Presley through the modest record collection of a friend’s parents, and traditional Faroese folk songs from her Grandfather. A nascent desire to emulate The King, and a keenness to preserve the Faroe Islands’ oral music traditions made surprisingly easy bedfellows.
The subsequent arrival on the Islands of era-defining records by Portishead and Massive Attack compelled a then-13-year-old Eivør to form & front a trip-hop band. They held regular concerts afloat, in complete darkness, inside a huge cave on the island of Hestur. Eivør quit school at sixteen and released her self-titled debut album, a year later she moved alone to Iceland, settling in Reykjavik to pursue classical singing training whilst releasing a subsequent two albums along the way.
Eivør wrote the original Faroese version of Slør (pronounced ‘slur’) as a sister album of sorts to 2015’s Bridges - whilst the latter dealt with homesickness & the knock-on effects on a sense of self, Slør squares up to the disconnect of returning to one’s roots. With it she sought to reconcile the Faroes’ remote majesty with the thoroughly modern world of her electronica; “The landscape I grew up with, it seemed so natural to turn into an electronic landscape, because it has this electric sound in it, you know. All these wild, crazy sounds- stormy, winds, and the ocean.”
The Hestur cave itself goes some way as an emblem for Eivør’s quest throughout Slør to align her current life in Copenhagen with the more primitive idiosyncrasies of her youth in the Faroes. Not least, as the sounds of crashing waves and echoes from within it are sampled by Eivør on one of Slør’s standout tracks, ‘Salt’. With the found sounds of the cave assimilated dextrously with startling stabs of synthesiser, beneath lyrics inspired by an old Nordic myth (as with sister track, ’My World’), it captures the album’s pull between the contemporary and the nostalgic in microcosm. It’s an interplay which runs right through Slør- appositely, on ‘In My Shoes’, precision-triggered beats are comprised in part by the sampled sound of heels pacing across a wooden floor. Elsewhere, ‘Piece By Piece’ is startling in its exposed simplicity, with Eivør’s vocal and ukulele backed solely by sonorous male vocals, nodding towards the a cappella traditions of The Faroes.
The album title itself here remains untranslated. Resisting a singular English definition (‘Slør’ can be used variously to mean ‘veils’ or ‘blurriness’ in English), it’s a metaphor for the different worlds which Slør taps into. Look no further than the tenderly atmospheric ‘Fog Banks’, which equates an increasing struggle to negotiate a friend’s battle with dementia to the Faroes’ characteristically nebulous weather; ‘Everything is veiled today / but the mountain tops are still bright spots somewhere above us’. Although initially skeptical when the idea to translate Slør into an English release was first mooted; Eivør found the key to unlock the new incarnation of the album, working in collaboration with American poet & sometime Faroes resident, Randi Ward. The fruits of their meticulous 8 month period of re-writing are borne out in spades here- teeming with darkly hooky pop, you sense the arrival of Slør will ensure Eivør doesn’t remain a veiled presence in these parts for much longer.
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