Tag Archives: Jens Mikkel Madsen

Album review: Live Foyn Friis: Running Heart (CLP CD 138)

LiveFoynFriisRunningHeartI have enjoyed Norwegian born, Denmark-based singer songwriter Live Foyn Friis’s charming, quirky voice (it is clear and natural with a delicate vibrato) and poetic lyrics for a while. The fact that she continues with her top notch band on her album Running Heart is an added attraction. She is joined by Alex Jønsson on guitar (and Thom Yorke-like vocals too), Jens Mikkel on bass and Andreas Skamby on percussion, with layers added by a cello (played by Maria Isabel Edlund), kalimba, organ, additional vocals and a euphonium. The wonderful thing about Scandinavian jazz-pop-electronica is that they are not afraid to play under-used instruments like banjos (in this case, a euphonium and kalimba), and the catchiness of tunes disguises complex interesting music which belies the label “pop”.  Her band all played with great gusto and joy on I Think You’re Awesome and do so again here with her.

More electronic than her other work Live Foyn Friis with Strings, this album of own compositions, all love songs, is sophisticated, dark and haunting.  Live has many projects from Big Band to Foyn Trio! (improvised pop) and an enviable list of bands and collaborations. She is touring South America now, and her website mentions a tour of Angola in 2017.  The battery of sounds and effects creates an ethereal, fairytale disorientation which will go down very well in large venues, and it would be great to see her in the UK.

Running Heart is released on Curling Legs.

Mary James  17 January 2015

Album review: I Think You’re Awesome: Lift me up so I can reach

I think youre awesomeI hesitate to put the debut album Lift me up so I can reach by Danish band I Think You’re Awesome into any particular category. But it fits easily into the “I-loved-this-the-moment-I-first-heard-it” box.  In just 36 minutes over 6 tracks and in a live  performance,  Jens Mikkel‘s band has created a unique and complex soundscape with tracks of great beauty and serenity sitting comfortably alongside compositions which are instantly arresting, memorable, witty and fun such as Be Kind to Your Neurosis.   

It is a mature work by a band which brings so many genres into play here – pop, indie, jazz, classical, roots.  The instruments are interesting – when did you last hear a banjo?  And it is the work of equals, everyone brings their strengths and  bass player Jens Mikkel allows them the space to breathe and intermingle within his own affectionate compositions. There are  many influences – to my ears there is sitar and the lilt of kora in the symphonic track called I Think You’re Awesome  (where the wurlitzer provides a very distinctive sound remembered from the Beach Boys) .   Yet it all sounds new and fresh and moves along so effortlessly  and perfectly you can’t believe this is a live performance. The title of the album refers to the idea that you can take pride in your achievements even as you are helped by others (those giant’s shoulders) along the way.

In an album of exquisite performances from everyone, special mention must be made of the sublime lyrical beauty of the cello of Maria Isabel Edlund in Schwartzwald.  This is a haunting piece that could be classical but sounds cinematic and modern with the aid of some subtle electronics, dance-like rhythms and abrupt ending. The sound quality and mixing is beautiful throughout.

If you like the sound of this album you might like to try Elliott Girls with Radical Haircuts and  Alex
3 The Lost Moose which both feature Jens and Alex and are equally atmospheric.

All music by Jens Mikkel

Kasper Staub,  juno & wurlitzer
Alex Jønsson,  guitar (right side)
Morten Kærup , banjo
Jens Mikkel, bass
Andreas Skamby, drums


Scott Westh,  trumpet
Jens Bang , trombone
Maria Isabel Edlund, cello

Recorded live in Aarhus, 30 April 2013

Mixed by Anders Ørbæk and mastered by Emil Thomsen

Artwork by Simon Eskildsen

The album is available as a free download from  Jens Mikkel 

Mary James 11 March 2014

Album review: Elliott: Girls with Radical Haircuts – released July 2013

Standing on the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton sums it up so neatly. None of us creates anything without building on the legacy of those who have gone before us. But that’s how we can reach for the stars, almost touch them, using the achievements of great musicians. The young Danish band, Elliott, have just released their debut album Girls with Radical Haircuts, and in their press release they pay homage to the one hundred year old catalogue of recorded compositions that have enriched our lives. They want to stand on those shoulders. Elliott comprises Alex Jønsson, guitar, Jens Mikkel Madsen, double bass and Jakob Sørensen, trumpet. They share the 8 original compositions, all working with each other to create a very distinctive and haunting sound. All play with other bands. Alex, in particular, plays with Foyn Trio which is led by the striking vocalist Live Foyn Friis whose pretty, quirky, catchy vocals are worth exploring.

So what can we see and hear with this particular trio, Elliott? An unusual combination of instruments – trumpet, guitar and double bass – creating a cool, consistent and spacious chamber sound, inspired by their native land, with beautiful compositions that hang around in your head. Jakob Sørensen’s delicately clear trumpet tone reminds me of Ron Horton when he played with Ben Allison on Midnight Cowboy from Cowboy Justice – a trumpet which is languid yet brittle, meandering gently through a vast American landscape. In Girls we have a more intimate landscape, from the dreamy calypso of Øresund, Baby, where the rocking bass lulls us to sleep to the beautiful Detecting Turtles. Alex Jønsson, who created a magical, fairytale-like atmosphere in The Lost Moose (reviewed here), has continued this vein. His opening, signature, melancholy chord on Dark Blue sets the tone which the others catch. He creates a sound which reaches back to the time of lutes and citterns but which speaks to us. These are wistful compositions, designed to be heard in a fire-lit room with the wind howling outside.

The arresting artwork of the album cover was created by Simon Gorm Eskildsen and you can see the making of it in the video below. The mixing and mastering by Kasper Nyhus are very fine. This is a delightful album by three talented musicians and composers which deserves its place on the shoulders of giants because, quite simply, it is beautiful.

Alex Jønsson, guitar
Jens Mikkel Madsen, double bass
Jakob Sørensen, trumpet
Simon Gorm Eskildsen, artwork


Buy album here

Mary James