Review: The Faroe Islands – The Faroe Islands

The Internet is like a jumble sale: a sprawling free-for-all where infinite piles of detritus exist, begging to be sifted. Buried deep in these amorphous heaps, obscured by endless shimmering folds of nonsense, there are rare and beautiful things. The Faroe Islands’ album is one of these.

Thanks to the Internet, a man in a room in South London can share the music he has made with the world, with whoever wants to listen. There are no demands. No contrived promotion campaigns, no radio play, no bullshit. It is there if you want it, available without charge.

Recorded using only a laptop, a cheap record player and an SM57 microphone, this album from Mark Tiller has a warmth and depth beyond the sum of its parts, confidently melding a range of influences into a cohesive whole. There are elements of post-rock, German music of the 70s, soundtracks, and the work of neo-classical composers like Terry Riley that form these engaging collages.

Some compositions are cinematic, widescreen aural palettes targeting a specific emotion, like on the sad choral epiphany of Two and the dreamy romanticism of I Will try To Be There, which recalls All Is Dream era Mercury Rev. Other tracks scout around at those nagging, undefined moods that befall us, as on the Lynchian shadowlands of A Ringing Telephone, with its moody eighties synths and Krautrock atmospherics. Elsewhere, The Bull’s tape-slackness generates enough space for an eerie organ drone to settle in and create a growing sense of unease.

There is a near constant demand for the listener to engage with these shifting soundscapes, a desire to remain grounded amongst the changing textures and pop tropes. Choirs emerge, drums drop away, guitars snarl, piano motifs and synth stabs float in and out in a world in transition. On Harp Tape, environmental concerns surface as an industrial beat is juxtaposed with a delicate piano, the urban pitted against the pastoral, man versus nature revisited.

Like time-lapse film footage, The Faroe Islands album is life sped-up and condensed – a flower growing, blooming and then withering; day turning into night and then day again; the changing hues of the seasons as they complete another cycle. Within each phase and movement, the minutiae of life, containing both sadness and wonder, are captured. And all of this, on the Internet, for free, amidst the jumble.

Words: Tom Spooner