Tjaere+Fjer - Voliere

10 songs
45:38 minutes
***** ****


Itís been quite some time since Danish one-man project Tjaere+Fjer released a new record. His last sign of life was a single in 2013, and although the three years since may have troubled my memory, but his new (and second, if you count the short II from 2012 as an EP) album Voliere feels much more daring than what I used to remember. Released on vinyl and as a digital download, the ten track album makes sure from the start that this is not one of those albums where you pick your favourite tracks. It works best when you take three quarters of an hour to give it your fullest attention.

Starting with the title track, Voliere instantly throws the listener into a totally unexpected direction. Although three and a half minute long, this is less a song than a piece of ambient sound art, working as an intro to set the mood for what is to follow. Next up is the first single Party, with two and a half minutes really compact, but this is certainly nothing to party to. The song narrates the angst that one may feel when a party is over, and you have to face a bleak reality again. A truly miserable track with wonderful synthesizer work that will get you down in the most exquisite way. As a matter of fact, this time we donít get any organic instruments, just synths and programmed beats, plus the very varied vocals of Mr Jens Christian Madsen. The following Any Second Now is a bouncier track, coming with a repetitive techno beat and a wobbly synth bass lead that shows the artistís love for electronic kraut rock. The vocals are this time chased through a vocoder, giving this track the chilly touch it deserves. Next up is Subjoy, with eight minutes the longest track on the album, and spoiling us with an industrial flavoured trip into a frozen over Hell. The last two to three minutes are dedicated to some sound installation that show that Mr Madsen really has learned to craft beauty out of silence. The A-side then ends with Iím Not The Man, one of his catchier moments, although the takes well care to add some gloomy atonal glockenspiel that gives the song a very distinctive identity.

Letís flip the vinyl over to the B-side, metaphorically as I am listening to the digital version, to be greeted by the seven minute monster Faster Than Light, strangely enough an instrumental track, but once again Tjaere+Fjer shows that he is a master of many genres. This is a grimy techno track with an utterly dark bass chord wobbling throughout the song, with metallic clanging percussion adding a certain danceability factor, although a very apocalyptic one. Towards the end, some "eeehs" and "aaahs" let us hear a voice, but in this case no lyrics. This really turned out, after repeated listening, to become one of my favourite moments of the album. Daydream is a very quiet track, less experimental, meaning somewhat catchier, although the spooky synth sounds make sure this stays on the sombre side of music. Derby is another two minute sound installation, possibly meant to allow the listener to come back to their senses, before itís time for another highlight. Beech Woods gaps the bridge between a lo-fi indie ballad and a demented monkey organ, coming with a tremendously memorable melody. The album ends with Rainbow Sky in a somewhat more grounded way and a beautiful orchestral ending, but maybe thatís necessary to find your way back to reality again.

At first I was not at all convinced by Voliere. It sounded to strange, disjointed, abstract. But after repeated listening sessions, I noticed that what may come across as pretence is actually a very sophisticated sense of ambition. Voliere is an entity, and as such a piece of art that offers great music from many directions of electronic music: new wave, experimental, ambient, techno,Ö It is also a highly personal statement, and I am sure that Jens Christian Madsen must have suffered a lot to transport these ideas into music. It is hard to make comparisons, but the more experimental sides of David Bowie and Radiohead may give you a certain impression of what to expect, even though in the end Tjaere+Fjer does his very own thing. So far his best because most memorable album, and I hope he will give a lot of people a good time with his sad music.

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