Sailing, hiking and the best in dining across the pristine, tiny nation
by David Graver in Travel on 28 July 2014
With a dramatic landscape as intricately charming as it is awe-inspiring, the Faroe Islands (a nation located between Iceland and Norway), provide a destination unlike any other. Situated in the North Atlantic, the archipelago is comprised of 18 separate islands (many of which can be visited) covered in steep, sheer mountains and carpeted with grass and vibrant wildflowers. The allure of the outdoors may be a primary motivation for most visitors, yet this small country has far more to offer—from cafés and bars, to museums and more. A rarity, the Faroes have been left largely untouched by the outside world. But that doesn't mean they're without modern amenities (WiFi is everywhere)—it does mean, however, that delving into the culture makes for a completely one-of-a-kind and extraordinary experience.
The city of Tórshavn stakes claim to the title of smallest national capital. Colorful houses rest side by side along the harbor. A stroll through the old town reveals one of the last remaining European cities constructed from wood, with buildings dating back hundreds of years; and every so often a house has a roof lush with tall grass. Newer sections of town invoke crisp Nordic design. And while you can do it all on foot, public transportation is always an option; easy and reliable. But as magical as each city, town and village happens to be, it's what lies between the settlements, that contains the most unreal mysticism. Old winding roads, a stray shack and 70,000 sheep (almost 20,000 more sheep than island residents). Whether you're planning on visiting their annual music festival, G!, or just want to scope out something remote, the Faroes command exploration.
The Nordic House
Stunning architecture aside, Norðurlandahúsið or, The Nordic House, is a hub of Faroese (and other Nordic nations') cultures, located on a hill with a lovely view in Tórshavn. From film screenings to orchestral works, speakers and dance performances, the entire venue is dedicated to intelligent entertainment. The Nordic House also sports a gallery space, with local artists on display year round. And just through the front doors, there's a lovely café and dining area that takes full advantage of the wide-sweeping view.
The number one export from the Faroe Islands is, quite naturally, fish—a protein the Faroese also happen to know how to prepare quite well. Situated in a tiny alley in the old town neighborhood of Tórshavn, the newly opened Barbara serves traditional Faroese food, in a rustic, warm setting. The restaurant is luxuriant, but not overpriced—and with the freshest fish cooked in historically important ways, it's guaranteed to be a remarkable culinary experience.
A hip watering hole for the younger generation, Sirkus is as charming as it can be boisterous. Whether you're seeking Faroese schnapps or their famous, locally made beer Föroya Bjór, it's a must-stop spot in the capital city with a lot of charm and very good energy.
A café and then some, Öström is a perfect place to grab coffee and enjoy a harbor view, or browse any of the Faroese apparel and design objects on offer. There are also small bites for those who have built up an appetite. Upstairs features a large gallery space, housing the work of local artists. It's cozy and delightful downstairs, and inspiring upstairs.
Tutl Record Shop
More than just a record store, Tutl happens to be the biggest label in the Faroe Islands, putting out albums spanning folk to doom metal. The store is a great space to find out what's being released and talk to people in the know, flip through CDs and in this venue in the capital city, it's also a place for in-store performances.
There's no point in visiting the Faroe Islands and not getting on a boat. The Norðlýsið is a wondrous tall ship, owned by a charismatic captain. With the purchase of a ticket, you can sail the islands, fish for cod and mackerel, and maybe even eat what you catch—as it can be cooked in the galley below. A boat ride is filled with stories that accompany the sea waves. It's a powerful experience on the open ocean, with a different view altogether of the Faroes' splendor.
For hikers, there might not be an experience more beautiful than visiting the remote island of Mykines. A ferry ride away from Tórshavn, the journey is an full day-trip in the least. The island is considered to be a bird paradise, with hundreds of migratory seabirds—not to mention puffins. Mykines exemplifies the remote beauty of the Faroes. There's a stone forest, and a 560-meter hike up Knúku. Flowing water graces the landscape, and the entire scene is absolutely stunning. Guided tours can be arranged, whether it's through the tiny village or into the wonders of nature.
Mykines image courtesy of the Faroe Islands, Sirkus image courtesy of Sirkus, all other photos by David Graver
A DIY set for building a charming 35mm and medium format machine
by David Graver in Tech on 28 July 2014
It's been over a year since the wild success of UK-based artist Kelly Angood's "The Pop-Up Pinhole Project"—a Kickstarter initiative, for which she proposed a camera that buyers assemble for themselves, from card stock. It was innovative, beautiful and highly functional. Angood's returning to Kickstarter today, with a petite play on her initial product. This time, it's called VIDDY, and it employs both medium format and 35mm film and happens to be even more charming than the original.
For those who don't know, a pinhole camera utilizes a single small aperture (a pinhole) in place of a lens. This particular pinhole has been laser-cut into screen-printed and die-cut cardboard, all done in the UK. The kit also includes a reclaimed medium format spool, a red light-proof window, split pins, and a customizable sticker sheet—not to mention illustrated instructions. Pop out the pieces, put them together and you're shooting in under 30 minutes. The camera takes superb photos, but there's also something to be said about the value in a photographer building their own camera.
More than just a smaller, cuter version of The Pop-Up Pinhole Project's Videre camera, VIDDY incorporates feedback Angood has received from the DIY pinhole community that she helped to form. This edition incorporates a film viewing window, shutter indicator and a virtually glue-free construction. And, while the image quality is very good, this isn't a camera for professionals and enthusiasts only. It's already been employed to teach children as young as 11 years old photography basics—a true demonstration of how easy it is to build, use and enjoy.
Snag your very own VIDDY on Kickstarter, in one of four colors, with a £30 pledge, with delivery slated for November 2014.
Images courtesy of Kelly Angood
The Smiths get covered, DJ DB Burkeman on the Rolling Stones and more in this week's look at music
by CH Editors in Listen Up on 27 July 2014
Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty
Ishmael Butler—whose notoriety peaked in the mid '90s when he became known as Butterfly, one-third of experimental trio Digable Planets—is a music veteran with impeccable taste and tenacity. His consistently fresh take on hip-hop is evident in Shabazz Palaces' upcoming release Lese Majesty. The 45-minute sonic journey channels multiple eras and genres, the album flows from ambient hip-hop track to space jazz without missing a beat. Multiple listens are necessary to catch all of the quick-witted lyrical references to everything from history to literature. If you're in Seattle, check out an art exhibit from Black Constellation (Butler's common collaborators) at the Frye Art Museum, open through 5 September. Don't forget your headphones.
HTRK: Chinatown Style
London-via-Melbourne band HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock) has been creating music since 2003; recovering from bassist Sean Stewart's suicide in 2010, HTRK released Psychic 9-5 Club earlier this year, their first recorded project as a duo. The LP is a further stripping down of their musical style, exploring themes of love and loss using the bare minimum of Standish's sultry, delicate vocals and Yang's new age, experimental sounds. The 11-minute video short for their soft, spellbinding track "Chinatown Style" is an intimate look at the Manhattan neighborhood, wordlessly moving from restaurant kitchen to dance studio to underground rave.
The Rolling Stones: Tumbling Dice
This week's #PrivateJam comes from pioneering DJ and record label founder DB Burkeman. A player in early rave culture and known for his key role in bringing drum and bass to the US, the New York-via-London crate-digging music maven turns to good ol' rock when he needs it. "Tumbling Dice," the groovy Stones track from the early '70s, comes from what many call their best period. "It's a track that has the power to snap me out of whatever kind of funk, or self-pitying mood I’m in," DB says. "If I’m feeling good, it produces a natural high unlike anything else." Musically, the song comes full circle with Burkeman's tastes. "I feel like it's one of the first and still best examples of a rock'n'roll band making wicked dance music. The groove they hit after the three minute mark still gives me goosebumps."
Júníus Meyvant: Color Decay
Already in heavy rotation in his native Iceland, Júníus Meyvant (né Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson) caught the attention of listeners on both sides of the Atlantic with his crisply produced folk-pop debut single "Color Decay." Meyvant's stoic rasp calls to mind Father John Misty while the calculated horn placement suggests a distant relation to Beirut at his loudest. In true Icelandic form, the song is cheerful without being cheesy, and folksy without sounding provincial. The song appears on This Is Icelandic Indie Music Vol. 2 with a host of promising artists from the cultural hotbed island nation of the north.
Woolfy vs Projections: Ask (The Smiths Cover)
While California’s Woolfy vs Projections (aka Simon James and Dan Hastie) have been working in tandem and as solo artists for well over a decade, their 2012 album—The Return Of Love, on label Permanent Vacation—put them on the (ever-so-slightly) mainstream map. Fans of their work will immediately recognize their take on The Smiths’ song "Ask," which uplifts Morrissey’s more somber tone and elucidates the vocals with a bouncy effect, while leaving in the original singer’s classic ruminating style. The upshot is a unique take on a widespread favorite that will have you tapping your toes and seeing the much-loved song through fresh eyes.
ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we tweeted throughout the week. Often we'll include a musician or notable fan's personal favorite in a song or album dubbed #PrivateJam.