Philip Jeck began his artistic life in the visual arts but then was diverted by explorations into using turntables to compose music in the early 1980s. The phrase ‘turntablist’ doesn’t seem quite right for Jeck’s approach to vinyl appropriation though and insight into his technique and its sublime lightness of touch may come from merely examining his table top. Vintage Dansette turntables (he has a store room full of hundreds of them), primitive sampling keyboards and minidisc recorders reveal an artist who’s found the perfect tools for this work – and hearing his compositions really is like being given the keys to a secret garden. The nearest comparisons to the world he creates are possibly the work of Ekkehard Ehlers, Fennesz or Tom Recchion but Jeck’s sound has a tender sumptuousness that’s all his.
In 1993, Philip Jeck and Lol Sargent won the Time Out Performance Award for their Vinyl Requiem, a performance involving 180 Dansettes and numerous projectors. Since then he’s released a raft of great recordings, largely via the Touch label, and developed a great reputation as an unmissable live performer. At TUSK in 2914, Philip Jeck performed a piece specially commissioned by the festival.
A fascinating personal guided tour of the avant multi-media composer’s extensive vinyl collection… including reggae housed in cream cracker packets [John Doran]
Julia Dempsey of The Art Assembly travelled up to his house in Liverpool and talked to him about his roots playing disco in clubs in the late 70s and early 80s, the joys of the rough DJ mix, discovering Arthur Russell’s music in New York, reggae album sleeves printed on Jacobs Cream Cracker packets and the power of Frank Sinatra’s bossa nova influenced work.
Thanks to Julia Dempsey for presenting and producing and to editor, Robin The Fog.
Minute of Listening is an exciting and innovative project that has the potential to provide all primary-aged children with the opportunity to experience sixty seconds of creative listening each day of the school year. By downloading a simple application to their laptops, desktops or interactive whiteboards, teachers can bring a wealth of sonic resources into their classrooms.
For a full list of contributors:
PHILIP JECK ON HIS LANDMARK TURNTABLE PIECE VINYL REQUIEM
Anyone with an interest in the historical moment where vinyl tilted from mainstream format to collector’s concern should spend time with Philip Jeck’s 1993 audiovisual piece Vinyl Requiem.
Philip Jeck & Mike Harding (Touch 30th Anniversary Special)
Saturday, September 15th, 9pm – Midnight
on Daniel Blumin’s show on WFMU
Premier UK experimental label Touch turns 30 this year. To celebrate, Touch has been organizing events in Europe, and from September 13th to the 16th the celebration lands in New York City with a series of events at Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, and Experimental Intermedia. Afraid of leaving home? Not to worry – the festivities also hit WFMU as label co-owner Mike Harding and composer Philip Jeck drop in for a visit!
Tune in as Harding discusses the label’s history and spins tracks from the imprint’s long out-of-print cassettes, recordings from the label’s roster of hit makers (e.g. Fennesz, Mika Vainio, Oren Ambarchi), and music that served to inspire the founding of the label!
Then, Philip Jeck, a Touch mainstay and artist primarily known for his mesmerizing work with prepared vinyl, performs live! Layers of creaky loops, hints of long-forgotten melodies, and echo-chamber strings meld with crackle, bass hum, and recombinant wormholes of sound. A Saturday night to remember. Do not miss!
You can hear the show archived here
You can see a film of Philip Jeck performing live at Altmusic, May 23rd 2008 here
“I’d been reading The Wire casually for years before I actually got around to hearing Philip Jeck’s music (who’s name-checked in every issue). When I did finally hear it, I was blown away by its visceral aspects. Jeck’s turntablism can be as menacing as Wolf Eyes or as soothing as Popol Vuh, sometimes within the same piece. In terms of sampling, Jeck rarely borrows a whole melody or phrase; instead processing and breaking his source material down into its elemental form—basic building blocks for composition. And perhaps more than any DJ-centric genre, Jeck’s music could be the ultimate example of vinyl fetishism, with the actual music pressed in the grooves at times being less important than the crackles and noises of the wax itself. I guess Christian Marclay is usually credited with bringing turntablism to the avant garde, but it’s Jeck’s music that brings the, well, music.”
You can read an interview with Philip Jeck in UK-based publication The Liminal
Philip Jeck is chuffed to hear his music used in 3rd part of Adam Curtis’s latest amazing BBC documentary, which could be seen on iPlayer here.
Pieces used included “All That’s Allowed” from “Suite: Live in Liverpool” (see below, and extracts from his latest album, “An Ark for the Listener”.
We are delighted to announce that Philip Jeck has received a Distinction for “Suite: Live in Liverpool”
Also, Touch artist Jana Winderen has won the Golden Nica for Digital Musics and Sound Art at Ars Electronica 2011. Her entry “Energy Field” was chosen by the jury out of 717 original entries into the category and Sohrab an Honorary Mention for “A Hidden Place“.
Since 1987, the Prix Ars Electronica has served as an interdisciplinary platform for everyone who uses the computer as a universal medium for implementing and designing their creative projects at the interface of art, technology and society.
The Prix Ars Electronica, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Ars Electronica Center – Museum of the Future and the Ars Electronica Futurelab are the four divisions that comprise the Ars Electronica Linz GmbH, whose specific orientation and long-term continuity make it a unique platform for digital art and media culture.
The competition is organized by the Ars Electronica Linz GmbH and ORF’s Upper Austria Regional Studio in collaboration with the OK Center for Contemporary Art and the Brucknerhaus Linz, and the prizes are awarded during the Ars Electronica Festival each year. The Prix Ars Electronica is one of the most important awards for creativity and pioneering spirit in the field of digital media.
You can buy Suite: Live in Liverpool in Bandcamp
Philip Jeck contributed to the soundtrack of the film ‘There is a Place’, which won the Jury Prize for the Best Screendance Short at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2011.
More information can be found at Goat’s website.
Inception brings the trend for slow music to the big screen
Composer Hans Zimmer’s ultra-slow manipulation of an Edith Piaf song displays the beauty in bringing the BPM right down
Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Photograph: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros
The malevolent, booming horns that sound throughout Inception are one of the film’s finest features. Their power lies not just in volume and repetition, but also in rebuilding part of the film’s architecture, just as Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters rebuild the architecture in their dreams.
Without giving away the plot, Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien plays a crucial role in linking Inception’s real and dream worlds. Now it’s emerged that Hans Zimmer, who composed the music, extrapolated his entire score from the Piaf song. In keeping with the atmosphere of blurred consciousness, Zimmer slows down the brass sounds to a somnambulant trudge.
What was once human, defiant and romantic is now lurching, formidable and unstable. Zimmer does something that numerous artists have also recently realised – that slowing music down dissolves and recasts it.
Games, the duo featuring Joel Ford and Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin, have been releasing mixtapes of slowed-down 80s hits over the past year. For Lopatin, who has railed against the often limited sonic palette of underground music, these tapes are proof that slowing down music dismissed as cheesy reveals its weirdness, beauty and potential.
Chopped and screwed is a form of hip-hop from Houston that slows tracks down to a crawl. Perhaps the sweltering heat of Texas encourages this lethargy? The muggy clarity of the weed and cough-syrup highs sought on the scene also heighten the music’s sensuality. As Scott Wright noted on this blog, chopped and screwed has been influential on “drag” artists, while mainstream rappers often use a few bars of a screwed, ultra-deep vocal to push their masculinity into the red, a fast-track to thuggishness. Meanwhile Ciara’s recent return to the sound is canny; set against the uptempo European house beats of chart rap, her slowness thrills.
As much as I love Zimmer’s music for Inception, I wondered what Philip Jeck, the master of the musical subconscious, would have done with it. Jeck resurrects battered vinyl classics, slowing down and looping the likes of Aaron Copeland to create fragments of songs echoing across time and sleep.
In a hyperactive digital world, slowed-down music pushes you back into your chair and demands you sit still; it forces you to consider the structures built and choices made. As with Inception, it casts light on a potential world where music sounds different and life runs in an unfamiliar gear.
Published by Ashgate, this book by James Saunders features a chapter on Philip Jeck (and Phill Niblock). It is available from Amazon, but it is very pricey…
Using different media, both Philip Jeck and William Basinski explore the gradual decay and manipulation of recorded sound. Jeck, using turntables, is fascinated by the inherent flaws and sonic detritus amplified by his record players, each crackle and undulation woven into the very fabric of his work, imprinting a personal history into every layer of sound. Basinski, in turn, investigates the gradual and physical deterioration of material recorded to tape, most famously on his four-part ‘Disintegration Loops’ whereby recordings he made in the 80’s were re-examined after years in storage, marking the passage of time and circumstance through every dilapidated moment. Although their work loosely falls into what Simon Reynolds has termed Hauntology, Jeck and Basinski stand apart from most of their contemporaries by working within a precise physical methodology, one that allows involuntary and gradual physical erosion to shape the material, rather than just formulating a revisionist re-enactment of the past. This 14 track selection offers an overview of their work, etching years of recorded sound through a kind of environmentally autobiographical bubble that’s both endlessly fascinating and, often, emotionally overwhelming.
Faster Than Sound presents The Suffolk Symphony by Touch, featuring Philip Jeck, BJNilsen, Jon Wozencroft, Mike Harding and Philip Marshall.
8pm – 11pm, Saturday 22 August
Hoffmann Building: Britten Studio and Jerwood Kiln Studio, Snape
Box Office: +44 (0)1728 687110
Book tickets online
Faster Than Sound bring more imaginative experiments with sound and image to the Snape Proms with The Suffolk Symphony, a specially commissioned residency and new work by leading sonic and visual production company Touch. Inspired by the historic coastline of Aldeburgh and its surrounding area including Aldeburgh Music’s Snape Proms and its history, Touch will create a new audio-visual symphony from scratch, using only locally sourced sounds and images. Beginning on 16 August, Philip Jeck, BJNilsen, Jon Wozencroft, Philip Marshall and Mike Harding will go on a week-long treasure hunt to unearth old records, field recordings, home-made sounds and images to create a new multimedia Suffolk Symphony, culminating in its first performance on the 22 August.
Following the offer of an Aldeburgh Residency by Faster Than Sound’s creative producer Joana Seguro, Mike Harding responded with the idea of creating a new multimedia work purely from locally sourced sound and image. Mike and BJNilsen went on an exploratory field trip in May to make initial field recordings which are being made into vinyl to be used in the performance, plus to kick start the project website www.thesuffolksymphony.net. The artists are already busy exchanging ideas in preparation for the residency in August, with Jeck drawing inspiration from the work of Benjamin Britten, especially his Simple Symphony, and Jon Wozencroft planning to describe the special place of Aldeburgh on film, shot in real time during the residency.
Directed by Mike Harding with sound by Philip Jeck and BJNilsen and images by Jon Wozencroft, the whole week will be documented for an interactive website by Philip Marshall. The residency will feature workshops and presentations by Philip Marshall and Mike Harding, including interviews with the other artists and a Touch showcase, culminating in the performance which will take place in the recently converted industrial space of the Hoffmann Building. The Suffolk Symphony will be subsequently released through Touch.
The interviews by Mike Harding during the residency will include a discussion with his partner Jon Wozencroft about his vision for Touch, now nearly 30 years old, and an assessment of the changes which have occurred in that period. Philip Jeck will discuss his work, particularly the method behind his live and recorded output, which eschews conventional instrumentation. BJNilsen assesses how field recordings have developed as source material for his work, and Philip Marshall describes the way artists communicate their ideas online and how this affects the relationship between them and their audience. Each interview lasts for one hour, including a 15 minute Q & A session, and dates and times will be shortly be announced via the website.
Hortense Ellis – I Am Just A Girl [Studio One, 1979] – designer unknown