Philip Jeck

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Vinyl Coda I-III (2000), 7/10
Vinyl Coda IV (2001), 7/10
7 (2003), 6.5/10
Host (2003), 7/10
Songs For Europe (2004), 7/10 (collaboration with Schaeffer)
Sand (2008), 6.5/10
An Ark For The Listener (2010) , 6/10

British turntablist, sampling engineer and sound sculptor Philip Jeck fused the turntable creativity of Christian Marclay and David Shea with the sampling terrorism of John Oswald and Negativland.

Jeck began by scoring Laurie Booth's dance pieces and achieved fame with the installation Vinyl Requiem (1993) for 180 turntables, 12 slide projectors and two film projectors. His early recordings, Loopholes (Touch, 1995) and especially Surf (Touch, 1999), were already obsessed with vintage vinyl, with the noises that the "performer" can extract from the process and with the "sounds" that the records contain. The former was more metaphorical (mixing the noises and sounds so as to create chaotic cacophony) whereas the latter was more literal (not hiding the noises/sounds but instead using them as instruments).

The double-CD Vinyl Coda I-III (april 2000 - Intermedium, 2000) collects three long solo performances for turntables and prepared records in which Jeck does his trick of mixing snippets of old records in a jungle of turntable noises. Vinyl Coda IV (Intermedium, 2001) adds another monumental improvisation. These are the works that show Jeck at the peak of his virtuoso art.

Viny'l'isten (march 2002) documents a 20-minute solo live performance and a 31-minute duet with Claus van Bebber.

Soaked (may 2002 - Touch, 2002), a collaboration with Danish sound sculptor Jacob Kirkegaard, sounds like a sort of battle of analog versus digital. Live at ICC (Touch, 2002) and Stoke (Touch, 2002) collect more live performances. Invisible Architecture #1 (july 2000 - Audiosphere, 2002) documents a live performance with Martin Tetreault and Yoshihide Otomo. Full Moon Warship (Vergilreality, 2003) is a jam with Vergil Sharkya on guitar and Stefen Kazassoglou on cello.

Host (Bubble Core, 2003) contains a tour de force of turntable noises, the 24-minute Skew.

7 (Touch, 2003) contains seven pieces that build alien textures out of the pure sounds of the turntable (the frantically fibrillating, raga-like Bush Hum) and occasionally from actual records (Now You Can Let Go, used as a repetitive pattern for a glitch-minimalist concerto). It is one of his most expert and inventive excursions into abstract art. The fluttering rumble of Wholesome harks back to cosmic music, except for the coarse texture of the drones and for the metallic noises in the background. By the end of the piece, it sounds like an orchestra of cellos. The ten-minute Veil is the atmospheric and ambient zenith of the album, a gloomy static drone from which there rises a lulling cello-like melodic pattern that becomes predominant but also more and more dilated until it disappears inside the buzzing dust of a galaxy. The timbres of Museum change rapidly from a horn fanfare stretched into a drone to a repetitive organ phrase over a jarring rumble. Pennies creates a gothic atmosphere out of cryptic organic noises and a lugubrious background drone.

Songs For Europe (Asphodel, 2004) is a collaboration with Janek Schaefer that builds ambient soundscapes from old Greek and Turkish records.

Sand (Touch, 2008) completely abandoned the discontinuous, glitchy format of his beginnings and turned to crystalline, slowly-revolving, quasi-ambient soundscapes, as in the three-movement Fanfare Song Trilogy, notably the eleven-minute Fanfares Over.

Suite (Touch, 2008) documents a live performance from 2006.

Spool (The Tapeworm, 2009) manipulates the sound of a bass guitar.

The single Spliced (Touch) documents a live performance with keyboardist Marcus Davidson.

An Ark For The Listener (Touch, 2010), a concept inspired by Gerard Hopkins' poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland", consists of psychological vignettes like the supernaturally ethereal Ark, the suspense-filled Twentyninth and the anemically organic The Pilot (Among Our Shoals); but it feels like a lightweight effort, and a bit unfocused, compared with his major works.

Jeck died in 2022 at the age of 69.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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