THE ONLY REAL silence is the silence of a moment after it's passed, and for the last hundred years or so, there's been a way around that: recording. But you can't record a sound or play it back without altering it irreparably. The machines that do the work refract what they capture and repeat. Joyce knew that, rocking toward and away from the microphone as he read "Anna Livia Plurabelle"; Defever knows that, reconstructing the parameters of the recordings he loves. And it's the main point of Philip Jeck's work. The British artist's music is built around the sound of recordings and their players - not the performances stored on them, but the baseline noises of the material objects themselves. Often, bits of music stick to them, like shreds of meat on a bone. Jeck's new album, 7 (Touch), is a set of pieces made with old record players, vinyl, and a sampling keyboard. "Bush Hum," for instance, has nothing to do with the White House: It's the harmonic buzz of an old Bush record player, cranked up high and looped into a throbbing electric swarm. The album closes with "Veil": a few notes that might once have been from strings or a piano but were definitely from a not-quite-immaculately recorded piece of vinyl, progressively stretched out on the sampler until their digital grain, or analog cracks, comes into sharp focus. Through those uncertainties and gaps, you can hear the blood and breath of recording, the failures of perfect reproduction that are its signs of life.
One of today’s most revered turntablists, who uses and defines the intersection of analogue and digital technologies treats his listenership to a world of variant layered tones. On 7 Jeck has remodeled his talent in a way that defines the essence of what has become refreshing in sound today. By offering long, harmonic passages that are both mysterious and somewhat uncharted he has permeated hi-fidelity by using an equivalent of found objects (mature German turntables). His records crackle and bend and fade, though for the most part he uses them with such technique that you may confuse him for using sound samples and field recordings, the traditional sound of the classic DJ is virtually absent and this puts Jeck clearly in a category alone. What is produced in this meticulous production builds more like a crossbreed of sounds you might hear from Organum or John Duncan. Jeck is also one of the few active 50-somethings (like Asmus Tietchens) in a field where most of those performing are a few decades younger and strictly using digital means and apparatus. 7 could be one of the surprise discs of the year in its casual way of presenting what might happen if you pummeled through a living room with a locomotive-sized batch of angry Victrolas leashed by a soft spoken man who surpasses the ferocious humor of it all. With the collision of big band era cartoons and lapping Maui rhythms, the beat is plausible enough for further mixing. There are rasping wheels, troubled tubas and lots of make believe making this one of my favorite spins of 2003. [TJ Norris]
'Tis the season for Philip Jeck, it seems! This UK sonic experimentalist is a big fave 'round these parts, so it's been a festive month indeed with the recent release of a live recording (reviewed 2 lists ago) and now this brand new 'studio' album, AND a reissue of Jeck's seminal, long out of print album Surf, reviewed nearby. Hallelujah. Jeck is simply a wizard with the turntables, not in a hip hop DJ sense but as a sound sculptor, making ghostly slow motion looping drones and beats with crackly old vinyl and the phonograph mechanism itself. Listening to his music is to submerge oneself into a mysterious, evocative realm of sound that capitalizes on the claustrophobia of the locked groove, that dwells on the dusty textures of vinyl as if examined by a field recordist, rather than the usual needle, tone-arm, pre-amp, speaker method of sound extraction. 7 is certainly a strong Jeck showing, lacking naught for crackling, glacial drone and ominous background melodies stolen from another time and place. It's really amazing that it's a turntable (or turntables) making possible Jeck's music, which ranges from the very physical sounding action of a track like "Museum" to the simple haunting whoosh of "Wipe". Track four, "Bush Hum" deserves special mention as it's constructed soley from the "amplified hum of a Bush record-player and delay-pedal". With those tools - no records - Jeck creates a totally electronic sounding track of buzzing rapid rhythmic noise, loud, grinding like a swarm of robot insects. The very next track, "Now You Can Let Go" takes the opposite approach, where there are indeed LPs on Jeck's turntables, and you can actually catch traces of actual music being "sampled". Squawks of big band jazz, a bluesy lick, warped exotica - but usually nothing really recognizable. It's almost like modern electronic dance music at moments, but worshipping the skipping LP not the digital glitch. But it's really Jeck's compositions with even less overt 'musical' content that we prefer, and 7's final track "Veil" delivers on that score with ten minutes of wonderfully droned-out sombre beauty, with no skips or scratches to interrupt its windswept trance... Of course, recommended!
The Wire (UK):
Philip Jeck may have been inspired to take up the turntable by Grandmaster Flash, but the origins of the sounds on 7 - his seventh album, running to seven tracks - would stump even the most dedicated sample magpie. A figure from a hi-fi enthusuast's worst nightmare, Jeck scours junk shops for old record players, on which he plays vinyl straight from the 10p box, looping and mixing it at variable speeds - the more dusty and scratched, the better. Perhaps coloured by the neglected and unloved status of his material and equipment, much of 7 is overcast by a sense of foreboding. It all starts innocently enough, with 'Wholesome', where tumbling arpeggios evoke the optimism of sunrise - imagine the dawn scene in a nature documentary. Yet its crackly patina of nostalgia gives way to a distant melody that evokes a sense of unsettling and change. 'Museum' suggests similar images of loss, as a brass fanfare wavers and stutters befoire beig replaced by a desolate beat, half muffled funereal drum, half mournful groan. Even at its most minimal, Jeck is still inventive. Featuring no records at all, 'Bush Hum' is worked up from a hum of a Bush record playerand a delay pedal. Switching between the the octaves on one note is nothing new; however he creates a sense of urgency and menace, buzzing the rhythm between the speakers with even more complex variations. In contrast, 'Now You Can Let Go' takes the familiar - the retreating echo and stabbing horns of dub music - and distorts still further, increasing dub's sense of elastic time and creeping paranoia. Or at least they nsound like they were once dub records: one of 7's many joys is how its musical sources are so unrecognisable that they open up each track to the listener's own bank of songs, images or memories. [Abi Bliss]
In an age when most music meddles around in an ostentatious swagger, it's good to know that there are artists like Philip Jeck out there. Rather than worrying about flashy apparel and explosive, catchy choruses, Jeck worries about subtle dynamics and disparate textures. His approach is subtle but direct, repetitive but interesting, mainly executed by an assortment of record-players, a minidisc player, and a Casio keyboard. On 7, Jeck continues this bold quest of avant-garde turntabalism, creating a multi-faceted affair that is both dynamic and restrained. Of course, comparing Jeck's music to braggadocios rock is trivial; what really matters is its comparison to previous efforts. Perhaps most noticeably different from 2002's more well known Stoke is that 7, which was created by editing home and concert recordings, is a bit more accessible and catchy. It's no pop album, to be sure, but it does have a quality that enables listeners to immediately identify the tracks. Ranging from abrasive electronics ("Bush Hum") and Lynch-esque droning ("Some Pennies") to eerie contrapuntal crackles ("Museum") and eight-minute ruminations on static and manipulated guitar ("Wholesome"), Jeck massages every possibility out of his musical tools. The album is even more stimulating when he appropriates and recontextualizes melodic lost sounds (i.e. old records) by either juxtaposing or superimposing them with his created sounds ("Now You Can't Let Go").
In the end, however, it is Jeck's deft approach and execution which makes this album so successful. The years he spent practicing his art saran-wraps every note, and not a moment goes by when his acute compositional skills are questioned. Naysayers may argue that Jeck's 7 veers toward accessibility to appeal to the hipsters, but my ears tell me that 7 is a sonic documentation of an artist who has honed his craft. Although Host (released around the same time) is decidedly more experimental and daring, that doesn't mean that 7 has an underlying intent of streamlining for the trucked-capped.
With each new album he puts out, British experimental turntablist Philip Jeck seems to be progressing closer and closer to his own warped conception of a kind of vinyl heaven: a place, perhaps, where forgotten records slowly dissolve into space, leaving only a vapor trail of their music hovering in the atmosphere. It’s there, to be sure, in the ghostly chorale of “Wipe” from his new album 7, which contrary to the title is his sixth solo disc, and fourth for the Touch label. The ghostly choir humming wordlessly seems to be soaring, reaching, desperately, sadly grasping for something, but what that something is can never be named without words; the choir has been made ineloquent, but the emotion of their vocalizing seems to gain an unearthly power and beauty even as it loses its specificity. As with the looped soul singer on “Pax” from last year’s Stoke, the loss of context—placing the disembodied human voice in a sea of vinyl crackles and shimmering noise—produces a profound sadness and tugs without melodrama at the heartstrings.
7, like all of Jeck’s albums, is dominated by this melancholy mood. He has increasingly focused his pieces—especially the shorter ones as featured on Stoke and this album—on a minimum of sources and ideas, developing and stretching each sonic shard into its own miniaturized world. “Some Pennies” revisits a wavering guitar loop that first appeared on theVinyl Codas, but relocated in a new context, amid a burbling mess of watery surface noise and distant percussive clattering. Even Jeck’s own work is not safe from re-contextualization; he has frequently explored the same sounds multiple times on different works, each time granting a new emotional tenor to the sounds due to their new surroundings. Here, his music has a newfound urgency and forward drive that was virtually unknown in the locked-groove meditations of his previous work.
Just as the end of “Some Pennies” submerges into an unexpected stew of gargling, harsh noise before sputtering out, “Bush Hum” uncharacteristically abandons records altogether, focusing instead on the amplified hum of the record player itself, manipulated with a guitar effects pedal. It’s a move that’s already been taken by turntablists prior to Jeck—most notably Martin Tetreault, who now focuses exclusively on improvising with whatever sounds he can wring from a bare turntable—but Jeck’s experiment yields some interesting and surprising results. “Bush Hum” has an entirely different character and mood from the rest of the album, comprised as it is of propulsive, guitar-like riffs of whirring feedback. Here, this track stands out too conspicuously and disrupts the album’s otherwise solid flow, but it nevertheless results a fascinating departure that Jeck could potentially incorporate into his future work.
Interestingly, “Bush Hum” is immediately followed by another uncharacteristic piece, “Now You Can Let Go.” With a greater emphasis on rhythm - of a conventional kind, as opposed to Jeck’s usual preoccupation with the inherent looping rhythm of a spinning record - and more recognizable sound sources, Jeck has created one of his oddest, most memorable, and most fun pieces yet. Bits of funky horns, cut-up and looped, disrupt the solemnity, and a homey harmonica solo unexpectedly cuts in, even as drums pile up in jittery drum-n-bass spasms.
The rest of the album expands upon the subtle grace of Stoke with small gestures and gorgeous melodies obscured by crackling static. The opener “Wholesome” is a layered exploration of arctic freeze, and the closer “Veil” provides its even more tranquil counterpart, an extended ambient wash that bears passing resemblance to the recent work of Touch labelmate Biosphere. If these tracks don’t expand Jeck’s palette quite as much as “Bush Hum” and “Now You Can Let Go,” there is still plenty of evidence here that Jeck is indeed moving forward. His music is more refined than ever, his engagement with his vinyl much more visceral and profound, resulting in an album that is more affecting than ever, but also more varied than any of his earlier releases. [Ed Howard, January 2004]
Pitchfork Media (USA):
The inside cover of Philip Jeck's seventh solo album (typically great Jon Wozencroft design) contains a nice quote from critic Mort Goode: "Johnny Mathis advances the art of remembering." I don't hear Mathis on 7 (though he could be here somewhere-- with Jeck you never know) but I imagine these words appear because The Art of Remembering would be a great title for a Philip Jeck album. For most of the 20th Century, the phonograph record was the primary time-based storage medium. You could buy pre-made 8mm and 16mm reels, but home films never had the market penetration of recorded sound. Music, speeches, plays, sound effects,
sporting events, even film storylines were preserved and sold on records. The vinyl record was one of the primary devices for storing culture's collective memory. Hundreds of millions of these fragments were strewn all around the world. What happened to all these chunks of data? Most decayed or were rendered obsolete and were tossed out, but plenty are still in circulation, and a good number of them wound up in Philip Jeck's record collection. Jeck makes music by playing, mixing and processing vinyl records (mostly obscure ones), and on 7, he reflects our memories back to us in a profound and terribly exciting way. Here, Jeck is at the peak of his creative powers. The first track "Wholesome" shows how damn pretty Jeck can sound when so inclined. You expect pieces built from old manipulated vinyl and loops to be prickly with a disturbing undercurrent, but "Wholesome", which isolates, stretches and repeats a Disneyfied swirl of night sky strings and impressionistic piano plinks, is like a flower in perpetual bloom. It gets distorted and blacker toward the end when Jeck rolls off the treble completely, but that's just the sun setting and, like e.e. cummings said, if it has to happen, this is a beautiful way. "Wipe" is just as lovely with a different feel, distant and lonely instead of warm and welcoming. It reminds me of Experimental Audio Research circa "Tribute to John Cage in C*A*G*E", music for drifting slow through space, a cold drone echoing in an asteroid's cave. "Now You Can Let Go" is where Jeck robs the memory bank for identifiable fragments. He turns crackly loops of locomotive chugs into percussion, pushes corny three-note jazz phrases nicked from a Steamboat Willie short into a dub chamber, and keeps a recording of a lathe humming along to bind it all into a singular sound machine. "Some Pennies" is doubly referential, as the ghostly bass ostinato looping through was also the central element of (the even more powerful) "Vinyl Coda I", recorded in 1999. It's an ominous piece of music, but somehow never threatens; despite its bleak overtone, "Some Pennies" is subtle and invites intimate observation. You want to inch closer and pick the piece apart, each layer of sound folded inside, a world within a world. I like to think of "Bush Hum" as a reference to our president and the violence that's accompanied his term in office, though the sleeve notes indicate that the sole sound source for the track is the ungrounded hum of a Bush turntable run through a delay pedal. Still, the abrasive, atonal buzz generated by Jeck's processed electrical circuit could stand in for the sounds of war. An atypical track for a man whose music always incorporates the friction of the physical, "Bush Hum" is nonetheless very effective. Closing the album is the 10-minute veil, a slowly evolving rumble of Wagnerian strings, the symphonic loops of Zauberberg Gas without the kickdrum. How did Johnny Mathis say it in 1957? Oh yeah, "Wonderful! Wonderful!" [Mark Richardson, January 13th, 2004]
Aquarius - record of the week (USA):
'Tis the season for Philip Jeck, it seems! This UK sonic experimentalist is a big fave 'round these parts, so it's been a festive month indeed with the recent release of a live recording (reviewed 2 lists ago) and now this brand new 'studio' album, AND a reissue of Jeck's seminal, long out of print album Surf, reviewed nearby. Hallelujah. Jeck is simply a wizard with the turntables, not in a hip hop DJ sense but as a sound sculptor, making ghostly slow motion looping drones and beats with crackly old vinyl and the phonograph mechanism itself. Listening to his music is to submerge oneself into a mysterious, evocative realm of sound that capitalizes on the claustrophobia of the locked groove, that dwells on the dusty textures of vinyl as if examined by a field recordist, rather than the usual needle, tone-arm, pre-amp, speaker method of sound extraction. 7 is certainly a strong Jeck showing, lacking naught for crackling, glacial drone and ominous background melodies stolen from another time and place. It's really amazing that it's a turntable (or turntables) making possible Jeck's music, which ranges from the very physical sounding action of a track like "Museum" to the simple haunting whoosh of "Wipe". Track four, "Bush Hum" deserves special mention as it's constructed soley from the "amplified hum of a Bush record-player and delay-pedal". With those tools -- no records -- Jeck creates a totally electronic sounding track of buzzing rapid rhythmic noise, loud, grinding like a swarm of robot insects. The very next track, "Now You Can Let Go" takes the opposite approach, where there are indeed LPs on Jeck's turntables, and you can actually catch traces of actual music being "sampled". Squawks of big band jazz, a bluesy lick, warped exotica -- but usually nothing really recognizable. It's almost like modern electronic dance music at moments, but worshipping the skipping LP not the digital glitch. But it's really Jeck's compositions with even less overt 'musical' content that we prefer, and 7's final track "Veil" delivers on that score with ten minutes of wonderfully droned-out sombre beauty, with no skips or scratches to interrupt its windswept trance... Of course, recommended! [Billy Kiely]
Philip Jeck is not your typical turntablist. Like his sometime collaborators Christian Marclay, Otomo Yoshihide, and Martin Tétreault, Jeck attends not to beats, breaks, and scratching but rather to the massing of sound, looping and layering scratchy old vinyl until it settles into a kind of rich humus of hiss - fertile soil for the flowering of unexpected melodic shoots. Using vintage Dansette players, a rudimentary Casio sampler, and effects, Jeck isolates tiny fragments of songs - often slowed down to 16 RPM, they're rendered utterly unidentifiable - and assembles them into dense, shifting structures as inviting as Op Art's moiré patterns. His seventh (not including numerous collaborations) solo LP, 7 - like all of Jeck's work - is nominally ambient, in that it opens up sprawling, immersive worlds best explored blindfolded. Individual moments blur and dissipate, and you're left with the sense of having inhabited a vast, harmonic field where all possibilities co-exist at once. [PS]
Bad Alchemy (Germany):
PHILIP JECK hat sich, ähnlich wie Christian Marclay, als bildender und Konzept-Künstler in die >Broken Music< hineingetastet. Das hatte bisher zu meist sublimen, radiophonen, mit E-Rand versehenen Artefakten geführt. Bei "Host" (SR 194), vier neuen Stücken für Sub Rosa, das belgische Label mit seinen offenen Ohren für >Mythologies of Noise, Destructed Sound, and Electronic Music<, jedoch sind Jecks Vinyl-Loops so lärmig und opulent wie selten zuvor. Die meist auf Flohmärkten und im Ramsch herausgepickten Scheiben rotieren auf alten Plattentellern mit all der Patina und dem Staub, der sich in den Jahren angesammelt hat. Jeck benutzt gern 'Records without a cover'. Was zählt, ist der Materialaspekt und der Dreheffekt, die Schichtungen, Überlagerungen, Verdichtungen und Verzerrungen der musikalischen Fetzen. Die dumpfen, kratzigen Echokaskaden von fragmentierten, komprimierten Orchesterstimmen lässt Jeck diesmal bis zum kakophonen Krescendo aufwallen. Statt High Fidelity und musikalischer Andacht herrscht die direkte Faszination durch die Magie der Klangspurenlese, die schon Milan Knizak gepackt hat. Wie aus den Fingerabdrücken der Recording Angels in schwarzem Plastik wieder His Master Voice erschallt und uns späte Ohrenzeugen mit archaischem, stampfendem Ritualgetrommel und Geisterchorstimmen im gyromantischen Wirbel überrollt, das zelebriert Jeck mit einer Intensität, als ob er mit seinen audioklastischen Mixadelics in den Partykellern von London und Brüssel einen neuen Voodookult schüren wollte. Gedämpfer ging Philip Jeck dann bei 7 (Touch, TO:57) zu Werk. In staubigen Rillen konservierte Vergangenheit ballt und verdichtet sich zu loopenden, eiernden Spiralnebeln einer Kunst der Erinnerung. Sieben Wendeltreppen führen hinab in von Patina überkrustete Archive, Lagerstätten abgestorbener Gefühle, die zu nebulösen Clustern eingedickt sind. 'Veil' nannte Jeck eine seiner Zeitreisen, 'Museum' eine weitere, ein verstottertes Zurücktasten entlang der Brailleschrift von Vinylscheiben mit Orchesterklängen, von denen nur noch runzlige Falten zu ertasten sind. Die aufgesuchten, wieder erweckten Tonwelten sind wie verschleiert von Jahresringen des Vergessens. Aber einmal erweckt und in Rotation versetzt, beginnt so ein Brummkreisel lärmig und wirbelnd den Raum zu besetzen und seinen Leck geschlagenen Speicher zu leeren, mit verstolperten Sprüngen und hakenden locked Grooves. 'Now you can let go' hält dieses Rauslassen im Titel fest und spielt dabei gleichzeitig auf ein psychologisches Loslassen an. Der Abschied, der erst möglich wird nach der Wiederbegegnung mit dem Verdrängten.
In this technology-happy age, English turntablist Philip Jeck is a bit of an anomaly. After all, electronic musicians are some of the most ravenous consumers, searching for ever faster processing power, whiz-bang features, and higher fidelity in their quest for the state of the art. With his willfully antiquated equipment – Dansette turntables, a couple of basic effects pedals, and a cheap Casio keyboard – Jeck flies in the face of present tech-fetish fashion, constructing his hazily oneiric, undulating music out of a stack of crackling, resolutely imperfect vinyl. “I started using record players in the early eighties after hearing mixers like Walter Gibbons and Larry Levan and Grandmaster Flash,” he wrote via email, when asked to explain the origins of his interest in working with turntables. “I bought a second turntable and a mixer and at first tried copying them.” His present method of working with turntables emerged out of this stint as a hip-hop deejay, playing extended rhythmic breaks at dancehalls and clubs.
Besides Grandmaster Flash and other hip-hop deejays, Jeck’s primary formative influence was Christian Marclay, who, in Jeck’s words “showed how big the possibilities were.” Not that Jeck ever aped Marclay’s distinctive, collagist style. Instead he developed his own, idiosyncratic way of working, making extensive use of longer loops, locked grooves and queasy repetitive elements, techniques that are very different not only from those of Marclay, but also from other experimental turntablists like Japan’s Otomo Yoshihide and Montreal’s Martin Tetreault. While their styles might be quite different, like Marclay, Jeck favors vintage equipment. In his case his player of choice is the Dansette, a most unusual turntable that plays records at four speeds, rather than the typical two or three. His predilection for Dansettes was born while he was still doing dance gigs in the early eighties. “I had some old 78 rpm shellac records I wanted to play,” he says, recalling his introduction to player of choice. “I found an old player in a record shop that played at 78. But when I got it home, I found that it also played at 16. Playing records at that speed is great.” The gradual evolution of his style began with his growing fascination with the possibilities engendered by antiquated equipment like the Dansette, but he also notes another key factor in the emergence of particular style. “I also, throughout the 80s, worked a lot with the dancer Laurie Booth,” he explains, “doing improvised performances all over Europe (and New York). I developed my way of playing through this, using any kind of record that I found, not for any purpose other than finding sound that had an emotional impact on me.”
Beyond this emphasis on repetition and the emotionally evocative, what distinguishes Jeck’s approach from that of other turntablists is the way that he uses popular music in his work. This goes beyond the extended woozy blues excerpts and snippets of half-familiar tunes that he incorporates into his work, which function as much more than cleverly ironic references within a larger, abstract sonic collage. As he explains it, his intention is to generate a feeling similar to that created by a classic pop song. “My inspiration is from all sorts of musics, especially popular music,” he says. “In my head, as I am playing, I search for the same emotional impact as the first exciting records I heard (Elvis, The Beatles, etc.), and then try to expand those moments.”
This emphasis on emotional effect is contingent not simply on the listeners’ recognition of particular recordings that he uses - only a scant few of which are immediately recognizable anyway. His is not an exercise in abstracted nostalgia, though there is certainly an element of such longing. The use of vinyl is itself evocative, especially given the highly distressed state of the records that Jeck uses – to put it mildly, he does not treat his vinyl stock with an audiophile’s care, instead aging his records with a hefty dose of studied neglect, as well as preparing them with tape, glue and a scalpel to create lock grooves. Enveloped in a haze of static-filled crackles and the hurdy-gurdy sound of warped vinyl, the listener seems to experience Jeck’s work as if through the distorted lens of memory. “Each fragment of sound is like a stored memory,” he explains, “triggering associations, sometimes nostalgic, but often not quite clear, but still adding to the overall emotional feel.”
The size of Jeck’s set-up can vary from just two to three players plus effects boxes, samplers and Casio to any number of players (as he puts it, it all depends on the budget). Undoubtedly, Jeck’s most ambitious work to date is 1993’s Vinyl Requiem, a sprawling multimedia piece that employed 180 record players. While a version of the Requiem has yet to make it to record or CD, a number of Jeck’s long-form improvisations have been released, most famously the Vinyl Codas I-IV, which appeared on two separate CDs on Intermedium. In addition to the four Codas, his more recent collaborations with German turntablist Claus Von Bebber (Intermedium) and Danish musician, Jacob Kierkegaard (Touch) provide further glimpses of Jeck’s live performance with their cyclical, slow evolution and queasily hypnotic atmosphere.
His most recent solo release, last year’s magisterial Stoke (Touch), was constructed primarily in the editing room, as Jeck fashions shorter pieces using elements culled from a variety of live performances. The tight control of the studio stands in sharp contrast to the risk that is an essential ingredient in Jeck’s live set-up: “Spontaneity and unpredictability are the things I use to keep me mentally awake and in the moment when I need to be,” he says. “The equipment I use is old and can always go ‘wrong’. A record player can start to play at a different speed or even vari-speed, changing the ‘feel’ of the sound, causing me to react and make sense of the change. It keeps me on my toes!” [Susanna Bolle]
Bill Meyer in Signal to Noise writes:
Blow Up (Italy):
Feature on Philip Jeck - Page 1/Page2/Page3
The Sound Projector (UK):
Jeck, Lord of the 'art' turntable, Duke of the Dynaflex and Denizen of the Dansette, hits town with his latest worn vinyl-fest, all 'edits' captured from his international live performances. Seven honey-drenched and richly saturated tracks spread thickly over 53:32 minutes. As always, here be lots of loops, lots of layers, lots of chance events creating fortuitous musical moments, yet Jeck always leaves his fingerprints on every second. Voices and musics are set off in constant circles, yet never quite repeating the same patterns twice over. Distressed surface noise also becomes a part of the overall tableau, and is transformed into sweet music. Ambiguity turns into certainty, as Jeck forces the hand of chance. 'A glimpse of the future through prisms of past records,' is how The Wire describes his work; I like the idea that you can see the future through listening. Perhaps Jeck is a magus, casting the runes, throwing the Tarot or spinning the I Ching, with all the mastery of a mystic adept. The chance shuffles of his vinyl Tarot deck will always reveal a credible configuration of future events...he releases all the untapped energy of a precognitive dream. His loops and repeats will send you into a trance, in which state you will babble in tongues and reveal the secrets of the world beyond. Jeck speaks of 'the combination of a half-remembered noise and the nostalgia of a room..expressing the thoughts that at one time slip into every home.' Like Soaked, this CD is heavy on nostalgic experiences and sad, weepy evocations of loss and tragedy. 'Pax' is a real standout cut here, with its trembling, slowed-down voice moaning against an organ music backdrop, and is probably one of the most affecting things you'll hear, enabling contact with a buried part of your own humanity you had thought was long lost. Then again, 'Below' has a slightly more aggressive edge, a chaotic centre that might result from the tension of doing it live. Oddly, though, it's hard to imagine Jeck's private and intimate work in the arena of a public venue. The recorded results always seem to be beyond mass communications, instead speaking to the listener directly. [Ed Pinsent]
Pitchfork Media (USA):
Liverpudlian Philip Jeck studied visual art at the Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England. During the early 80s, he drifted from painting and sculpture to music, and began working with old and discarded turntables. Though he's roughly a contemporary of Christian Marclay, recognition for Jeck came much later, beginning in 1993 with his massive installation "Vinyl Requiem", which incorporated 180 record players and multiple film projections. Since then, he's released several solo records for Touch and the German label Intermedium, and has collaborated with Otomo Yoshihide, among many others. Much of Jeck's solo output is culled from edits of live performances. Using a number of battered turntables, a Casio keyboard, and a CD player or minidisc, Jeck creates dense, pulsating sound collages from the grooves of ancient and forgotten records. Like Yoshihide and Marclay, Jeck is no DJ. Though he stands over his decks with headphones on, his intention and methods with records has nothing to do with beat-matching or spinning tunes. Records are truly just sound sources for Jeck, raw material to be shaped via mixer and effects into his ghostly compositions. Listening to his most recent album, Stoke, it's hard not to think about Jeck's background in visual art, and how it informs his audio work. There's something very cinematic about these pieces, though the music sounds nothing like a soundtrack. Some of the visual referencing could come from the regular pops and scrapes in the vinyl, which are reminiscent of the sound of a spool of film being fed into a projector. Jeck's endlessly rotating platters, like the whirr of moving film, serve as a constant reminder of the time-based nature of the medium. These pieces happen, and all you can do as a listener is try to extract information before they fade back into nothingness. You have to listen close and listen often.
Stoke finds Jeck more in the realm of focus and refinement. While the tracks in his "Vinyl Coda" series (worth checking out, by the way) ranged from 20 to 60 minutes, the seven distinct pieces here average less than eight. The relatively tight construction of the tracks means that Jeck can hone in on a single sonic idea and amplify it, extracting the maximum amount of emotional material from a few grimy loops. "Pax" is an uncharacteristically minimal piece combining a simple organ refrain and slowed-down vocals, possibly from an old gospel 78. The keyboard is very clean-sounding and might not be sourced from a record, but it perfectly complements the churched-up feel of the warped vocal, stretching the anguish of the indecipherable lyric to its breaking point. "Close" uses ancient recordings of sacred music from another culture to beautiful effect, this time the ringing sounds of Indian classical. The undisciplined hiss of a loose sitar string is clipped to ribbons, then looped and recombined to sound like a warning, some indeterminate alarm sounding through a Himalayan valley. The piece takes a stunning left turn in its final quarter, turning to a loop of surface noise with an echoing and unbearably lonesome vocal floating on top. "Lambing" is Jeck in drone mode, patiently adding and removing layers of sound and noise whose vinyl sources remain a complete mystery. The style on "Lambing" could be considered Jeck's signature, and it's amazing what he accomplishes through additive processes. There's something wonderfully machine-like about the operation. Since Jeck has the entire world of sound at his disposal, he has to figure how much of it to let in at any given moment, like mixing air with fuel inside a carburetor. Stoke proves him a master mechanic. [Mark Richardson]
Compared to the recent release of the collaboration between avantgarde turntablists Philip Jeck, Otomo Yoshihide, and Martin Tetreault, Jeck's solo production receives the superior packaging job -- not only with the normal sized digipack (and not that stupid 'super jewel case') but also with the beautiful design from Touch's Jon Wozencroft. Furthermore, Jeck's album clocks in nearly 20 minutes longer and is two bucks cheaper. OK, so it looks good, but what does it sound like?, you ask. The AQ verdict is -- it sounds wonderful! Philip Jeck's take on turntable experimentation involves using multiple turntables and scratchy old records to create blissfully beautiful surface-noise looping. His largely improvised compositions make the most gorgeous, repetitive, droning use of good old-fashioned record crackle and hiss. Jeck takes great care to allow for scraps of melody to emerge from the original music on the records with snippets of piano, sitar, and slow-motion vocals, popping out of crackled loops and often recalling the height of the Robin Storey era Zoviet France in the late '80s. What differentiates this new album from the previous excellent ones in his ouevre is its dynamics (perhaps due to the fact that these were all live performances?) -- the music is more active in terms of the elements used and their resulting emotional power. In fact, the first track "Above" is the creepiest composition I've ever heard from Jeck. The dynamism is also evident in that he uses more individual sounds that unfold over time but *not* necessarily being looped. It's nice to hear him trusting the sounds to stand on their own rather than needing the looping effect to make them beautiful. Highly recommended!!
With its acrobatic athleticism and penchant for charming gimmicks, in all likelihood HipHop will indefinitely dominate the field of turntablism. Even record-spinning abstractionists like Christian Marclay and Martin Tetrault, who may not always share HipHop's necessity for the beat, put on flashy demonstrations that engage the machismo of technique, alongside their critically minded recombinations of cultural readymades. While Philip Jeck's performances, installations, and recordings have centred around his arsenal of turntables (at last count, he was up to 180 antique Dansette record players, though more normally he performs on two or three, and a minidisc recorder), he isn't terribly interested in the contemporary discourse of turntablism, preferring to coax a haunted impressionism with those tools. However as a calculating improvisor, he shares affinities with the turntable community. Once he is in control of the overall context of the music, he leaves much to the spontaneous reaction towards sound at any given moment.
A typical Jeck composition moves at an incredibly lethargic pace through a series of looped drone tracks caught in the infinities of multiple locked grooves. As he prefers to use old records on his antique turntables, the inevitable surface noise crackles into gossamer rhythms of pulsating hiss. Occasionally, Jeck intercedes in his ghostly bricolage with a slowly rotated foreground element - a disembodied voice, a melody, or simply a fragment of non-specific sound - which spirals out of focus through a warm bath of delay. For almost ten years now, Jeck has been developing this methodology, building up to Stoke, his strongest work to date. Its opening passages are on a par with his Vinyl Coda series, with Jeck effortlessly transforming grizzled surface noise into languid atmosphere.But Stoke really gets going with the breathtakingly simple construction of Pax, upon which Jeck overlays an aerated Ambient wash with the time-crawling repetition of a single crescendo from an unknown female blues singer. By downpitching her voice from the intended 78 rpm to 16 rpm, he amplifies its emotional tenor by making her drag out her impassioned declarations of misery far longer than is humanly possibly. The effect is just beautiful. Philip Jeck has always been good, but Stoke makes him great. [Jim Haynes]
Before diving into Stoke, it's best to acquaint oneself with its composer and his unusual musical convictions. While Jeck utilizes multiple turntables for his musical expression, he is not a DJ by electronic or hip-hop standards. With a fondness for scratches, dust particles and other physical vinyl deformities, Jeck is the record collector's absolute worst nightmare. In order to maintain his impressive instrumental arsenal, Jeck purposely leaves his vinyl out of its sleeves, encouraging environmental deterioration for the sake of creating a one-of-a-kind sound bank that no keyboard could ever match. Consequently, Jeck's instrumentation is always in a state of flux and he can never perfectly reproduce a composition in its entirety. And while certain musicians deemed "composers" by the listening public are generally classified under a broad "experimental" label, Jeck's unique, and at times absolutely bizarre presentation leaves him in a genre all his own. Jeck's instruments of choice on Stoke consist of Bush, Fidelity and Philips record players, a Casio keyboard and an Alba portable CD player. Together, this peculiar collection coalesces into a layered fabric of cyclical waves, ambient textures and distinctively inimitable orchestrations that fall somewhere in between an old Nurse with Wound release and the bleeding edge of musical composition. Six out of the seven tracks here are edits of live performances recorded in such varied locales as Liverpool and Osaka; "Lambing" is the sole home recording, created for a Lucy Baldwyn film. Oddly enough, each mechanized composition has a peculiar movie-score quality to it; Jeck's jangles either settle quietly in the background, subtly altering moods, or swoop abruptly to the forefront, picking at your wits like a ravenous vulture. "Vienna Faults" brings to mind an electronic pet store, complete with chirping birds, whirling fish tanks full of tropical exotics, and plodding lizards, modestly surveying the surroundings. South Asian flavors dominate "Below", as haphazard sitar notes precariously wobble through textured record-hissing. The corresponding sister tune, "Above", has a more organic feel, as DJ Jeck manipulates his turntables' pitch, cascading unexpected sound effects over nameless artists' deconstructed tunes as if echoing a cryptic Future Sound of London track. It's a bit much sopping up everything on Stoke in one sitting, as the muscle behind the discordant drones and fugacious changes is exposed only after several headphone-led excursions. Taken in small doses, however, Jeck provides some immediately appealing and innovative work that shouldn't be overlooked by any musical thrill-seeker bored with the stagnant state of rock 'n' roll. Thankfully, Jeck's combination of three turntables and a (possible) microphone doesn't translate into being "where it's at" on the alt-rock scene; instead, he strives to push the definitive boundaries of 21st century music. [Andrew Magilow]
Philip Jeck always seems to surprise and surpass expectation every time I hear him perform. I've heard him spin out haunting loops for avant garde dancers to strut about to in art spaces. I've heard him spin stickered platters alongside guitarist Vergil Sharkya and fractal videographer Gerd Willschvetz in an underground car park in Liverpool. I've heard his scaffolded ranks of old car boot turntables mash up crackly memory traces from worn needles bumping into wires and stickers in a London gallery. I've heard him go walkabout at a festival opening, cutting up dictaphone recordings with the pause button. After his ambitious quartet of lengthily (r)evolving 'Vinyl Codas' released by the Intermedium label, he returns to Touch with seven shorter live excerpts from performances in Liverpool, Manchester, Osaka, Tokyo and Vienna. With only a single sample Casio keyboard to aid the junkyard turntables spinning varispeed deteriorating vinyl, he necessarily limits his options but unlocks endless potentials from abundant alternate histories coded in the grooves. When he loops records at low speed, worn old cliches morph into haunting new textures. A phantasmal keyboard hoot that forms the bedrock of "Pax" sounds like it might've morphed slowly from a cheesy old J. Geils Band charity shop hit. "Above" cuts scratchy old vinyl into train chug clunks and chicken squawk with some slowed speech narration to explain what exactly isn't going on. "Lambing" is a home recording, soundtracking a film by Lucy Baldwyn, and wouldn't sound out of place on his previous Touch CD 'Surf,' with groaning ghost vox repeating an eerie refrain over the crackle'n'drone spin, until slowly a sunrise glow cracks dawn beneath the locked groove rhythm faultlines. "Vienna Faults" waltz around like a music box in a tumble dryer. There's some crazily mangled sitar "Below," reversing into hollow metal hammering, cut dead by a sudden descending blues guitar riff. "Open" seems to rework familiar noises from 'Surf' into a noisier delayed clatter. "Close" does just that, with some more sitar loops, more meditative but just as playful as before. Stray starry plucked fragments drop in at odd angles until a loop locks and deteriorates to a stutter as a single piano note bashes to infinity. A ghost choir of Hamaiian folk singers emerges from the vinyl crackle fog to bid a fond farewell. If you haven't heard Philip Jeck before, this is not his most immediate recording and 'Surf' or the 'Vinyl Coda' series might be better ports of entry. He has not yet left the building. [Graeme Rowland]
"The combination of a vaguely remembered noise and the nostalgia of a room...". What Philip Jeck proposes, then, is a mnemonic exercise, of a "homemade" or "domestic" essence, resorting to no less handmade equipment, such as old record players, a lo-fi sampler, a dictaphone and a CD player likewise in need of retirement, in the aural search of some paradis perdu of the vynil era. At the extreme opposite of a turntable virtuoso and the fragment aesthetics of Christian Marclay, of Martin Ttrault or the Japanese Otomo Yoshide, Philip Jeck's third CD is most likely closer to the nostalgia of Pierre Bastien. But if Bastien looks for "trance" through the repetition of sound fractal molecules, spinning our memory in an endless loop of quotes - "belle epoque" or more traditional jazz, Jeck blocks those same loops, covering and uncovering, making a mess where Bastien had applied the detergent. The result is abrasive, industrial, composed of accumulation of residues out of which strange lithurical atmospheres emerge - such as in "Pax", a gospel lament that evokes the more intellectualised manipulations of Carl Stone or Ingram Marshall, smashed by a misplaced couch. [Fernando Magalhes] Translated by Heitor Alvelos
Side Line (Belgium):
P. Jeck brings experimental back to its most natural form: a point from which you have to progressively explore the infinite universe of sound sources. This is an exploration throughout diversified spectrums, covering different styles like ambient, industrial and pure experimentalism. "Stoke" is a very bizarre entity for the diversified sounds we aren't really used to. P. Jeck sounds closer to a sort of noise-scientist than a musician does and he therefore may remind of the early pioneers of electronic music. I personally prefer the last tracks, "Below", "Open" and "Close" for being a bit more elaborate. This album goes crescendo, like he first had to find the raw materials to finally conceive a final product! This is an essential record for the lovers of meaningful experimental and ambient stuff! (DP: 6/7) DP.
Turntablist Philip Jeck is no garden-variety DJ. Armed with a coterie of vintage Dansette phonographs, a slew of used records, a keyboard and a CD player, Jeck fashions his enigmatic music out of hazy, off-killer loops and crackle, snatches of sepiatoned melodies , and distorted vocals. Like much of Jecks work, many of the seven pieces that make up. Stoke possess a distinctive, ominous quality to them, even at their most beautiful. Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of Jeck compositions- such as "Lambing" with its plaintive howls and soft staticky pops or the oneiric blues of "Pax" - is that they are both mesmerising and profoundly unsettling. Very highly recommended. [Susanna Bolle]
VITAL (The Netherlands):
To be very, very honest: turntable players are usually not my cup of tea - and I don't know why. Maybe it has to do with the superstart status some DJs have acquired over the years, so that they are the rockstars of the millenium (as far as we know it). And why? Because they play a few pieces of vinyl and get the crowd cheering? But there is also a group of people using turntables like rock artists who use a guitar: as an instrument. Here too I sometimes have problems, certainly when the played records are easy to be recognized. No such thing however in the work of Philip Jeck. Stoke, his third full length for Touch, was recorded at various concerts and uses besides various record players, also a simple casio keyboard and a CD player. With these relative simple means, Jeck sculpts his music. Building it layer by layer, adding slowly more pieces. Of course there is a rhythmical aspect to this dark music, but hey we're talking extensive use of vinyl here. As said none of his sources can be recognized, but I guess they are pretty much old 78 RPM's. Highly minimal music, that is also highly fascinating. The repetitiveness of the music lulls you into a hypnotic state, but one that is different from the minimal techno boys. Fascinating music. (FdW)
Bad Alchemy (Germany):
Jeck ist der Minimalistischste unter den DJ-Knstlern. Strker als Marclay, Tetreault oder Yoshihide vermeidet er Zitat oder Collage, er lsst die Geruschwelt einzelner Plattenrillen in sich kreisen, er feiert den Loop als Ouroborosschlange, zelebriert schwarze Messen mit Vinyl und CD-Black-Boxes. An Stelle des Schnittes herrscht die kleine Verschiebung, die progressive Selbstunhnlichkeit, die Ununterscheidbarkeit von Wiederholung und Variante. Dennoch, die weniger restringierten Passagen, etwa die verrauschten Sitars bei 'Below' und 'Close' oder das Geschepper von 'Open' sind emotional natrlich effektvoller. Die gespenstischen Slowmotion-Field-Hollers von 'Pax', wie unter Wasser gespielter Pierre Bastien oder Gavin Bryars' 'Sinking of the Titanic', gehen als ultimativer Blues absolut unter die Haut.
and Mark Williams in the City Newspaer, Washington DC (USA), writes here
Radio Alligre, Paris:
A great album from this british turntablist. Ghoost music from the country, reminescent of Richard Thomas but with an amazing attention to sounds and harmonics.
Loop after loop and a hundred patterns in, it's clear that minimalism is alive and skipping on Stoke. Jeck, along with Fennesz, Ekkehard Ehlers and Otomo Yoshihide, exposed the relatively untapped possibilities of gorgeous sound produced merely from a phonograph plexus caressing aged vinyl. The music on Stoke wasn't so much a mantra as it was a microcosmic sample of the beauty of a passing moment: "Vienna Faults" evoked the never-changing landscape of wintry Europe, viewed from the passenger seat of a bullet train; "Below" captured the distant toll of a church bell (transposed from a hobbled sitar sample), and fractured vocal transmissions; "Pax" isolated the underwater croon of a blues singer as he drowned under the clang of the earlier train and his own morose helplessness. If half-remembered imagery of dreams is the closest we can get to the next world, Stoke provided fleeting notes of the trip. [Dominique Leone]
The record spins slowly, wobbling on the turntable, emitting crackly waves of virtually unrecognizable music, the melodies inalterably splintered and the rhythms disrupted. The warped, slowed-down voice reverberates from the speakers through a haze of static; its warbly tremor exudes sadness, like a lonely drowned ghost singing wordlessly from the bottom of the ocean. Philip Jeck's albums-constructed almost entirely from old, worn-out, warped, and broken records-are explorations of just such beaten-down territories. Jeck is a DJ in one sense: a crate-digger and vinyl fetishist who collects interesting sounds and juxtaposes them in unique and (hopefully) compelling ways. But the results of his music, and the types of sounds he seeks out, place him so far from the realm of the traditional DJ as to be in a totally different genre.
Jeck's compositions, mostly created spontaneously in a live setting, are arranged around loops of warped vinyl, molding a beautiful, ever-changing collage of sound from music long-abandoned. With his Vinyl Coda series, he crafted long, slowly mutating pieces which drifted along on a constant wave of static, incorporating new ideas over time on an epic scale. These mammoth improvisational pieces often used as many as 20 turntables at once, and Jeck's largest installation, his early piece "Vinyl Requiem," included over 180 turntables spinning simultaneously. But in recent years Jeck has been paring down his set-up, using less and less record players and honing in on his ideas more carefully to create minimal, tightly focused compositions
Stoke, Jeck's fifth solo album, is the direct result of this new approach. Recorded, like the Vinyl Codas, during live appearances, the seven pieces on Stoke are very different from the British turntablist's past work in every other way. For one thing, these compositions have been edited down from longer works, resulting in shorter running lengths for most of the songs. Each piece generally explores a single idea, building up and creating tension within a four-to-eight-minute block. On past albums, each of these songs would have been just a part of a larger piece, a patch in a drifting, massive quilt. It's clear that the editing work here consciously limits each piece to a coherent sound or style, and the result is an album that's just as varied in the moods it evokes as any of Jeck's more monolithic compositions, and yet it somehow works better as an album than anything he's done before.
Stoke also contains some of Jeck's most beautiful single moments ever. The best aspect of his music has always been its capacity to isolate individual moments in music and recast them in startling ways. Such moments-like the emergence of a Christmas carol amid the spooky mid-section of Vinyl Coda IV-can chill you and break you out of the sometimes static stretches that occasionally marred Jeck's past work. This time around, the music is composed almost entirely out of those kinds of moments.
On "Pax," Jeck re-imagines the role of the soul singer. Over a wavery organ loop that gently builds then fades away amid a wash of echoes, a singer slowly groans out a wordless lament. Jeck's slowing down of the already distorted vocals draws out the emotion and sentiment of the singer while obscuring the words-in effect, isolating emotion from lyrics. "Close" is centered around a very simple guitar motif, repeating ad nauseum and very slowly incorporating minor changes in its twangy, slightly exotic style, but the beauty of it is its very simplicity. The track builds patiently, picking up speed and adding elements as it culminates towards a gorgeous finale. When, halfway through its 15-minute length, there's a changeover from a chaotic guitar-based jam to a more subdued, bass-heavy groove, it's marvelously affecting. For the song's second half, a lovely voice echoes through crackling surface noise and a slow rhythmic framework that's nearly submerged beneath the static. The piece seems truly alive by this point, full of competing tensions and ideas, and the result is jaw-dropping in its raw emotion and beauty
Throughout this album, it's impossible to describe exactly how Jeck's relatively simple music can have such a devastating effect. Perhaps it's a part of the inherent mystique of vinyl, something embedded within that hissy, ever-present crackle that comes from playing a well-loved album over and over again. Or maybe it's the element of surprise, the beautiful feeling of not knowing what to expect bubbling out of the mix next. Whatever the case, Jeck clearly has an even firmer grasp of these concepts than ever before, and Stoke is a monumental work in an already great career. He manipulates pure sound, the discarded remnants of past musics, into a compelling work of art that is alive with the ghosts of the past while being firmly entrenched in the moment. [Ed Howard]
Best of 2002:
employed toward abstraction rather than percussion, texture rather than beats.
Imagine Oval's affection for the introspective quality of CD dysfunction, but
applied to vinyl.
review can be read here
Finally, after waiting for ages, Philip Jeck's totally genius Surf album gets reissued. Oddly enough, perfectly coinciding with what might be his best release since Surf, the simply titled 7, which sonically sounds remarkably like Surf (see the review elsewhere on this list). For those who aren't familiar with his work, Jeck is a UK
experimental turntablist who extracts sounds from old battered turntables like an archaeologist excavating some ancient vinyl burial site, using surface noise, skips and crackles, to weave dreamy sepiatone soundscapes of underwater waltzes and pastoral murk. Surf is quite possibly the perfect realization of Jeck's sonic vision.
Sinister loops and minor key melodies slither through blurred landscapes of sound, rickety and decaying, shimmery and indistinct. Like blurry postcards of someplace you've never been, or a fleeting memory of someone you've never met, translated into sound. A sound so warm and thick, familiar and inviting, that it transports you to a sonic universe where a skipping record becomes your footsteps, and a repeated crackly phrase becomes the wind through the trees. Easily one of the most transcendentally perfect records ever.
of turntablism may be associated with flashy, deck-hopping scratch gymnastics,
but the use of the record player as an instrument harks back to a less ostentatious
tradition of music making. John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Schaeffer,
and James Tenney recognized records and turntable mechanisms as manipulable
sound sources. In essence, sampling began with the real-time deployment of gramophones
in performance by theseartists and academics.
Philip Jeck, like peers Christian Marclay, Otomo Yoshihide, and Martin Tetreault, legitimizes the turntable as a musical instrument. On SURF, Jeck lifts sounds from old vinyl and treats them in fascinating ways. The fragile melody of "Box of Lamb" arises not from direct quotes but from a well-considered reconstruction of the source-vinyl sounds. Preserved pops, crackles, skips, and scratches lend complex rhythmic character to the profound loop-based atmospheres of "Demolition," "Spirits Up," and the loping, almost funky "I Just Wanted to Know." "1986" works a Woody Woodpecker sample, an insistent guitar phrase, and swatches of nostalgic music into audio bricolage brimming with humor and analog warmth. "Surf Finger," electro-acoustic gamelan music masterfully cemented with effects, and the vertiginous CD-skip simulation of "Tilting" provide SURF's most intriguing moments. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The Wire (UK):
"The loop 'n' scratch method Jeck made famous in his Vinyl Requiem installation for 180 Dansette players has more than mere novelty value. The music rising out of the method affords a glimpse of the future through prisms of past records. The advantage that obsolescent avant gard tricks for tape and vinyl have over sample loops is their very unreliability. Tape loops eventually stretch out of phase, antique record player speeds are apt to falter. Jeck brings such flaws into play as an extra chance element in pieces already abounding in pleasures and surprises from the way he resolves the textural and timbral clashes of his various mismatched sound sources."
Philip was also interviewed in the same August 1995 edition:
"On Loopholes, his impressive solo debut CD, Jeck also uses tape loops and a cheap Casio keyboard to create a lo-tech jungle without the breakbeat - a collision of sources rendered unrecognisable through speed changes, short loop lengths and distortion. The progressive degeneration of material through successive re-recordings is celebrated in Jeck's blissed out, textural aesthetic. For the Loopholes CD artwork, Touch label partner and graphic designer Jon Wozencroft creates a neat visual analogy to the music using photographs of VHS playbacks of images generated by camcordering TV pictures. The medium loops back on itself and enhances its own idiosyncratic qualities. "Its similar to the way I'm working with sound: just textures and landscapes. You're not quite sure what they are and it doesn't matter," says Jeck. "I'm not brilliant at keeping time with tunes or whatever," Jeck continues, outlining his idiosyncratic and primitive approach to sound construction. "With looped records or looped tapes the rhythmic structure looks after itself. I listen to the sound and change the tone controls actually on the record players. And I really only use two effects - an old cheap reverb which goes wrong occasionally and a guitar delay pedal. I just fiddle around with the controls until it sounds right."
Jeck trained in the visual arts at Dartington College and moved on to performance work in the 1970s. For a short while he was in demand as a DJ at warehouse parties imitating the innovative turntable techniques he'd heard coming from the States on records such as Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's Adventures on the Wheels of Steel. But it was during a five to six year collaboration with contemporary dancer Laurie Booth, which took him all over Europe, when he developed his own particular style on stage in front of an audience, tailoring his aesthetic more to the manner of performers like Paul Burwell and Max Eastley...Besides his ongoing work for dance companies (including a forthcoming BBC Dance for Camera programme), Jeck also works with the song-based group Slant. Meanwhile, Jeck's biggest project, the 180 turntable audio-visual collaboration Vinyl Requiem, starts a European tour at this year's Hamburg Summer Festival. Jeck's listening habits are wide-ranging and eclectic, including Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, Sinatra's Capitol recordings, John Cale and Nico, God, Material/Bill Laswell, fellow turntable manipulators Christian Marclay and DJ Krush, and the obligatory Bristol trio of Massive attack, Tricky and Portishead. For performance purposes, however, Jeck prefers the records he finds in car boot sales - records otherwise destined for obscurity.
Among the minimal information on the Loopholes CD booklet there's a Latin quote: Versa est luctum cithara mea... "That's from a piece of music I really like," explains Jeck, "a funeral motet by a Spanish composer, Victoria. It means, "My harp is tuned to mourning". And I am in mourning about a lot of things in this world, in this country."
Loopholes was in Yamatsuka Eye's top five CDs of 1995...
"A textbook example of how to make influential and stimulating music without playing a note. Taking old dansette record players, tape machines, a battered casio keyboard, and adding a sprinkling of good old fashioned creativity (no Akai samplers here...), Philip Jeck has fashioned a record of mesmerising depth and quality. From the opening tinklings, one is struck by the complexity of sound generated from such a limited arsenal, and the work's ordered appearance, despite the inevitable contribution of chance to the project. With nods in the direction of Oval's CD eccentricities, dubs' exploration of echo, distortion, and speed manipulation, and even the underlying properties of a marching band (on the chilling Ulster Autumn), this is probably one of the few recently released avant-garde efforts with the potential to cross over into the domain of the more adventurous ambient explorer. A low-fi classic for the electronic generation, and another quality contribution from the invariably impressive Touch label, straddling the tightrope between indulgence and inspiration with some skill (check out their Ash 1.9 Runaway Train for one of the most ludicrously enthralling recordings you'll hear all year)." DJ 4 minutes 33
"I feared the worst when I heared the tinkle of toytown bells on the opening Casio and thought this was going to be a general piss-take. But no, the second Anatomy added meat immediately through a looping of static charge. Philip Jeck uses old equipment rather that being a resident of the digital domain, not that you'd realise this by listening to Loopholes. Perhaps this is why there's a scratchy aura surrounding the recordings. He utilises vinyl discs which offer an authentic outmoded (in these times) feel. Long tracks reel around the speakers as rhythms fuse the tonal repitition into accessible pieces of music. Louie's Riddle might even be viewed from some techno chart of one sort or another, such is the easy nature of Jeck's work. Definitely one for those who are a little afraid to dip their toes into experimental waters."
"PHILIP JECK, of the British group Slant, plays turntables and tape-loops (and makes some particularly inspired use of the usually banal Casio) on his superb solo album, Loopholes (Touch (UK), c/o Dutch East India, 150 W. 28th St., Ste. 501, New York, NY 10001). His loops and spinning records create musical whirlpools from lush orchestral fragments, unnerving marching band drum cadences and strange, unidentified percussive sounds. These varied sounds vie together well as an album through their similarities of movement and a very interesting wobbly character produced through turntable speed manipulation and cheap reverb."
"Sometimes, sampling just means plunderphonics - vaguely altering the original's sound source and using it for dubious means - and sometimes it's used in a particularly novel manner, as Philip Jeck offers on the gangly Loopholes. Using just a single Casio keyboard, plus vatious tape-recorders and record-players, Jeck conjures up everything from systemic beatmusic ("Louie's Riddle") to aliens in the bush speaking in tongues ("PS Two"). Seemingly 'simply' constructed, in reality these arresting pieces form a complex and highly individualistic mosaic of sound."
"He really needs to be seen live, but Loopholes by Philip Jeck [Touch] has its own mild-mannered appeal. Jeck takes existing vinyl and creates artificial lock-grooves, looping and cycling and mixing several records at once (plus occasional similar tape manipulations). The obvious comparison, Christian Marclay, seems to lack Jeck's rhythmic mesmerism. The hypnotic side of Jeck's music is to the fore here, often at the expense of internal variety. That said, most tracks show subtle development, and the atmosphere created is often pleasingly surreal (e.g. on the estimable Louie's Riddle, with its insistent drum loop; or on the ominous shriek and martial drums of Ulster Autumn)."
"Sis darbas pirmiausia i aki krinta novatorisku ir originaliu priemoniu panaudojimu, nors idejiniu aspektu jam galima papriekaistauti... Kitas, ne maziau intriguojantis leidinio aspektas - procesas, kuriuo realizuojamos idejos. Stai siame santykyje ir rutuliojasi kompozicijos priemonemis, turi savita skambesio charakteri ir apskritai daro idomaus ir intriguojancio leidinio ispudi."