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TÝvils D°tur

Tutl (
Review by Tyran Grillo

Listen "Faðir og dóttir"

Tívils Døtur is the debut from Kata, an all-female vocal quintet hailing from, and arranging folk tunes of, the Faroe Islands. Kata's precise, rooted singing will appeal to fans of Trio Mediӕval, but the opening title track reveals a conscious influence in Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (Kata does indeed have a passion for singing Bulgarian music as well). This song also sets the album's tone, which tends toward cautionary tales of injurious traditions and social mores, as codified in folk stories handed down for generations.

Listen "Inni liggur tú líri"

Some, like "Inni liggur tú líri" (about a bird) and "Vevpíkan" (a ballad of lost effort), are brief and therefore give only glimpses into the culture from which they spring. "Grímur á Miðalnesi," by contrast, feels almost like a Kalevalic rune song in its depiction of heroic legendry. Still others, like "Eg átti mær eina húgvu (Húgvutáttur)" and "Torkils døtur," tell fatalistic stories of covetousness, missed opportunities, and even sexual violence, which in the latter song takes a narrative form that will be most familiar to anyone who has seen Ingmar Bergman's 1960 film, "The Virgin Spring."

Listen "Risin og moyggin"

Although Kata shows its precision in the more polyphonic pieces, equally adept are the accompanied vocal solos, which often float over droning soundscapes enhanced by occasional percussion from Rógvi Á Rógvu and the electronics of Lasse Thorning Jӕger). By these, what might at first feel like the timeworn shoreline depicted on the album's cover morphs into something warm and immediate. "Rúra, rúra barnið," for example, the best-known nursery rhyme of the Faroe Islands, occurs twice in the program—first as a frosty collage of branching lines, then as the electronically "remixed" version of that is the album's outro.

Listen "Rúra, rúra barnið (outro)"

Many such melodies have an elliptical structure, as in "Faðir og dóttir" and "Silvurlín," which wind around their centers with thematically appropriate tension. The live percussion in this and "Risin og moyggin" adds a touch of time travel while enhancing underlying atmospheres of filial dominance. These adornments only serve to strengthen the music's ancient origins, while sometimes, as in "Tað var 99 og tað var 98," adding an uplifting sheen.

Listen "Silvurlin"

What the listener ends up with, then, is a dip into forgotten waters, and an experience of such vivid melodic and lyrical shapes that one can't help but piece them together into a landscape that—for a little while, at least—feels that much closer to the realm of personal experience.


Find the ensemble online.

Tívils Døtur is available from cdRoots

Further reading and listening in tongues:
Lekkujad (Karelia - Finland/Russia)
Lena Willemark (─lvdalens, Sweden)

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