Ongir Pengar

1 11 2007

When I was a kid, growing up in rural northeastern Oklahoma, I would look through atlases and play with my globe, imagining all the exotic places I’d visit when I grew up. As I’ve mentioned before, during that time, I developed a real crush on New Zealand. But I dreamed of lots of other places, too: Denmark, Uruguay, Liechtenstein.

And the Faroe Islands.

The Faroes are a group of islands between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. They’re sort of midway between Iceland, Scotland, and Norway. Although officially a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroes are mostly autonomous. Fewer than 50,000 people live in the Faroes, and the economy is dominated by the fishing industry. The Faroes also have their fair share of sheep.

I know all that, by the way, because of the various term papers I wrote in school about the Faroe Islands. (I was a quirky kid, ok?) And, oh, because I just glanced at the Wikipedia entry for the Faroes.

Anyway, at some point along the way, I started to be interested in Faroese pop music. (I’m a quirky adult, ok?) For a relatively sparsely populated place, the Faroes have produced a lot of good pop music. These days, I’m listening to good, recent albums from Eivør Pálsdóttir, a rootsy balladeer; Páll Finnur Páll, a rock band with a social conscience; and Teitur Lassen, a singer-songwriter.

Of the three, Teitur, as he’s known, may be the most accessible (and most familiar) to American ears. His debut album, 2003’s Poetry & Airplanes, was amazingly accomplished, and it attracted the attention of John Mayer, who championed the album. Teitur’s lyrics are smart, and his English seems to be better than mine. Plus, he has a real way with melancholy, and that’s always appealing (to the lovelorn me, anyway). Teitur’s second album, 2006’s Stay Under the Stars, was also quite good.

This year, Teitur released Káta Hornið, his first album in Faroese. The album is available on iTunes, and I’ve really been enjoying it. If you’re adventurous, or even just curious about what Faroese sounds like, I’d recommend it. Now there’s a video for “Ongir Pengar,” one of the songs on Káta Hornið. Directed by Marianna Mørkøre and Maria Arnell, it was filmed at an abandoned salt silo in the Faroes. I think the video is an awfully cool piece of work.

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