You know how the old saying goes – if you want something done right, do it yourself. And nothing is more true of this than music. If you’re a musician with a clear sonic aesthetic in mind, the prospect of teaming up with other band members, each with their own creative ideas, is daunting.
This is why Jensen’s new EP ‘II’ is so clear-cut and definitive. The brainchild of AJ Reeves, Jensen are (or is) a solo effort that seems feverishly preoccupied with reinventing noise-rock with an oppressive and relentlessly dark attitude. II is heavy, brooding and forceful.
Rising from the ashes of the ex-hardcore punk outfit Ourfamousdead, Reeves has since been busy with a lead role in the sci-fi short film Exit Plan. This obviously made an impression, because there is an undeniable cyberpunk undertone throughout Jensen’s material. It feels toxic, claustrophobic and digital, and gives off the impression that it is the result of months of seclusion spent watching Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner under a blue neon tube or something.
It goes without saying, then, that II isn’t exactly accessible. That said, there are many aspects of it which do echo of bands who found huge followings despite the fact that they definitely didn’t get much Capital FM airtime. Reeves’ vocals, for example, sound like the result of a Marilyn Manson / Jonathan Davis crossover while the noise-wall synths could definitely have come out of a The Prodigy album, if a little more subdued.
‘Addicted to You’ is a definite highlight of the EP, with a filthy slap bass hook driving the track along as the aforementioned Korn-like vocals creep alongside. Punchy percussion and staccato synth melodies define this obsessive single, which you can listen to here: http://www.soundspheremag.com/videos/videos-of-the-week/listen-jensen-addicted-to-you/
Track four, ‘Let Down’, is another gem. The synthwave melody in the choruses is a genius touch and makes it an excellent ‘driving-at-night’ sort of track. For the rest of the EP, it’s worth noting that this is not electronic music that you can dance or do much to. It’s best to let it brew and sit over you as you would with Massive Attack.
Much of the tracks, like ‘One Million Miles’, really trudge along with certain numbness. Though, it must be said, they are certainly no less atmospheric for it. ‘Pale Horse’ in particular, with its rumbling ambience, chattering metallic synth and guitars distorted almost to the point of white noise is one of the most blindingly characterful tracks of the EP. Others work less well. Track two, ‘Every Day’ falls victim to tiresome repetition exacerbated by a question-and-answer melody structure throughout literally the entire song. In terms of creating a crushing atmosphere, Jensen have definitely succeeded, but it can be hard to do this while remaining musically interesting.
As with many things though, this can be remedied by saying ‘But that’s the point.’ And I’d be hard-pressed to argue. Either way, II is masterfully crafted and sculpted around crystal clear ideas. It is always refreshing to hear music as a form of art rather than a consumer item, and Jensen serves as a welcome example of what can be achieved through unrestrained creativity and independent production. II comes out March 17th, don’t miss it.