Tjaere+Fjer - II

6 songs
29:14 minutes
***** ***
(self released)


Jens Christian Madsen is quite the workaholic. Last summer, the Berlin based musician released his debut album Tourists. Residents. under the name Tjaere+Fjer, which is Danish for Tar and Feathers. Not even half a year later, he followed this with the remix album Transits. as a pay-what-you-want download album.

Back then I had a rather good impression of his music, but the debut was maybe a little too long to allow me to find the patience to listen through it, and remix albums are normally the most fun when you are familiar with the original work.

Now at the end of 2012, Mr Madsen was so nice to send me the newest Tjaere+Fjer EP II, first as an MP3 download, but when I surprisingly found the vinyl/CD edition in my mailbox, I decided that it would only be fair to dwell longer on his music this time. Maybe it helped that thirty minutes is also a more moderate length in the eyes and ears of a reviewer swamped in new music.

My first impression is also what the artist must have intended. Tjaere+Fjer’s music has become more accessible, without becoming more commercial. Instead the compositions feel more fleshed out, which can be heard right away on the opener Motor Cross Dresser which is also the EP’s single edit. The sound is firmly rooted in the Eighties, and I don’t hesitate to call this kind of music new wave. There are only synthetic instruments on this track, but with such a refined aural spectrum that listening becomes a sheer pleasure. I especially love the low, threatening synth bass line that runs through that track. Above this you’ll find an actually very sweet melody. This is not unlike Tears For Fears on a very good day. The following Days Go By is a shorter track and feels like some kind of desert blues track. There is even a real guitar to be heard. Of course this is all packed in a fitting urban dressing. Atoms Work In Shifts is another synth-only track with a nice, wobbly atmosphere, even though it doesn’t aspire to reach the same catchy hit potential as the opener. The A-side ends with Faking It All, and if Jens Christian Madsen decides to release a second single, this dramatic synth pop track is the perfect candidate. I like how the intriguing keyboard sounds clash with the extremely primitive beat-box rhythm.

The B-side is far more experimental but definitely not a drop in quality. The opener The Other Forest is an experimental soundscape with a haunting, evocative atmosphere, preparing the ground for the EP’s centrepiece After All These Years, a nearly ten minute long epic elaboration combining the artist’s love for clinically cold Eighties wave sounds with more expansive kraut rock permutations. Nice!

There is no doubt that II is an extreme progress for Tjaere+Fjer, and not only because the more concise space of an EP allows for tighter songwriting. If Jens Christian Madsen is able to keep up his fast pace and this good work, he should soon become a household name for quality electronic pop music. The vinyl/CD edition comes with an instant download code, but if you don’t want the material version, you can also just get the more economically priced download-only version.

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