Ten years ago Teitur Lassen left his home on the Faroe Islands to follow is musical dreams. Last month we reported how to record his sixth album, Story Music, he returned to the North Atlantic, armed with the experience, contacts and material he needed to challenge popular musical conventions.
“So much of new pop music doesn’t have any social awareness. It’s like a sweet sugary snack that gives you a quick rush that is soon gone. I feel that the music we like defines who we are.”
Has Teitur defined himself with Story Music?
Poetry is important to Teitur Lausen – poetry, stories and structure. His lyrics can be sparse, but there’s a beauty in them akin to prose poetry. Hopeful presents a light, sparkling opening to the album; piano, harp and vocal – and more than a hint of happy melancholy that makes you wonder where his album is going to take you. There’s something of the Broadway musical about this.
He also enjoys telling a story. Gone fishing: the palindrome song has some fun with the structure of a simple story; rock and roll band and indie girl tell stories of musical lifestyle – of contrasting musical lifestyles; whereas antonio and his mobile phones simply introduces a character. Hard work is more of a morality tale, but with a sharpness to the lyrics…
It’s gonna give you scars on your pretty little hands
It’s not funny anymore takes all these elements of the album to a higher plane. The most lyrically involved piece on the album benefits from the magical touch of Van Dyke Parks. By this time you expect Willie Wonka to place a comforting arm around the singer’s shoulder.
However, as well as being exploited to the full, these well-known forms are also challenged. If you wait compels the listener to do just that, while monday places a collage of spoken word and choir samples (Broadway Chorus Vs Greek Chorus) against a piano / harp refrain that leads to more freeform orchestration.
Story Music seems to be about as far removed from an album with a unifying concept as you could get. But, unlike the ‘sweet sugary snack’ music he frowns upon, each of Teitur’s songs has its own place, and stands there defiantly. Yes, there are predictable musical catches and quirky balladeering, but there’s also a good deal more parody than might be obvious. Teitur takes hugely popular song writing conventions but matches them to a lyric that simply doesn’t fit the form. There are tortured rhymes in there that have been placed like trip wires, setting up the unwary listener for a fall. It would be too easy to agonize over what Teitur’s trying to achieve here. Some might worry about the album’s message, or the intended audience. What makes this album unique and worthy, though, is this: the simplicity of popular musical forms has been shone through a prism in Teitur’s mind, and he’s singing the rainbow that emerges.
Review by: Neil McFadyen