A chilling mist quickly dissipates, revealing a sweet surround.
Often an EP carries a weight that its longer-format sibling cannot bear. Where an LP usually requires variety and/or a sense of development to hold attention, an EP can concisely state its uniform yet immersive case and depart to stunned silence. Across 18 minutes that feel like eight, Tjärn shines warm rays down on us that are irresistible, that render our surroundings irrelevant. All that matters is right here.
As Klangriket, Stockholm-based Fabian Rosenborg is making a rare second appearance in a single year within our pages, which tells you in what esteem we hold him. Back in February Jeremy was wooed by a split with Dutch artist Sjors Mans, The Amsterdam Sessions – a combination of experimentation and improvisation. Where that EP leans wearily toward ambience, Tjärn stands with a straighter posture in the pool of modern classical music. It’s also an older set dating from 2016, now given a second wind.
Three of its four tracks are based on piano or piano-like foundations, whose melodies drift from bittersweet to saccharine sweet. The barest track “Ljusterö” is two-and-a-half minutes of pure, lulling piano. Between the spacious ivory notes can the sounds of keys and pedals being depressed be discerned – and we feel a tingle of pleasure at being allowed to intrude so intimately in a personal moment between composer and instrument. After 20 seconds of disquiet, opener “Elin” soothes with a sedate chord progression on Rhodes-like keys, soon joined by a fuzzing throb like an interested bee and a sweet violin line like a welcoming flower, opening its petals. “Björk” is even prettier. Its keys are muted yet glossed with spacious reverb. A single sustained note pierces like the sun reflected off the sea – too pure to look directly at. The Rhodes is soon swallowed by its growing reverb, as every muscle in our body relaxes and wakefulness no longer seems possible. The tide flows closer as we drift into dream.
Final track “Skogsrå” offers a hand that we only vaguely discern. We are basking in the warmth and do not wish to be led away. But the mist is gathering again. A fuzzy layer emerges from the depths and an eerie whistle sounds close by. After four minutes, a percussive rhythm enters. The hand has grabbed at ours, and is starting to lead us into the mist, away from the water. Long-decaying bells chime, artificial and ominous. A chill envelops. A shudder runs down the spine.
Was that really 18 minutes? (Chris Redfearn-Murray)