Artist Profile
Philip Jeck
England

brit Philip Jeck is one of the most fascinating figures on the avant garde scene today. His compositions, crafted almost entirely from scratched and manipulated old records, are oddly emotional and complex, going beyond simple nostalgia to tap into the power of vinyl. Jeck’s roots are in the visual arts—he began his turntable experiments while at art school—but he was seized at an early age by a realization of the near-limitless potential of the record player.

From his beginnings playing traditional DJ sets at underground parties and creating music to accompany dance performances, Jeck slowly began adapting his own distinctive style. After graduating from art school, he experimented with improvising and composing in different settings, including his collaborations with couple Sianed Jones and Cris Cheek in the experimental rock band Slant (with whom he released two albums). By the time of his 1993 exhibition Vinyl Requiem, which featured 180 Dansette turntables spinning simultaneously, his essential aesthetic was nearly in place, and the remainder of his career so far has seen him further refining and honing that aesthetic.

Using loops and samples from old records, with the vinyl hiss and defects comprising just another facet of the music, Jeck’s pieces are often eerie and ghostly, with sounds drifting up from beneath an ocean of crackling fuzz before being submerged again. He is capable of extracting remarkable beauty from the grooves of his source records, as well as emotions of dread, sadness, and great pleasure.

Vinyl Requiem was the true beginning of Jeck’s career as a musician, and just two years later he released his first recording, Loopholes, which captured his sound in its early stages. Surf followed four years later, and marked the beginning of what has been the most prolific stage of his career. The 2000-2001 Vinyl Coda series—which presented a series of live appearances recorded for broadcast on Dutch radio—earned Jeck his most acclaim and attention yet. The four long (the shortest was 22 minutes) pieces on the two Vinyl Coda albums were Jeck’s most accomplished works to date, proving that he worked best in a live setting.

Recent years have seen Jeck increasingly collaborating with other musicians on the avant garde fringe, most notably on the exceptional first installment in Audiosphere’s Invisible Architecture series, a live improvisation with fellow turntablists Otomo Yoshihide and Martin Tétreault. The CD pitted Jeck’s pastoral tendencies with the more confrontational noise loops of Yoshihide, with explosive results. In addition to the Audiosphere album, 2002 saw the release of Jeck’s finest work yet, Stoke. Again compiled from live appearances—this time greatly shortened and edited—the album was a further development of Jeck’s unique style, concentrating on individual ideas more than ever.

If Jeck continues on the arc of experimentation and increasing improvement he’s been on in the past few years, his work will certainly be counted among the most vital recordings of the new century. By looking back into the past, he has paradoxically created something undeniably of our time and forward-looking, and his music is timeless because of it.

Quick Facts:

Current members: Philip Jeck

Location: England

Style: Turntablism, Improv

Labels Appeared On: Touch, Intermedium, Audiosphere

Major Releases:

[w/ Slant] Slant (1993, Sound & Language)
[w/ Slant] The Canning Town Chronicle (1994, Sound & Language)
Loopholes (1995, Touch)
Surf (1999, Touch)
Vinyl Coda I-III (2000, Intermedium double CD)
Live in Tokyo (2000, Touch CD-R)
Vinyl Coda IV (2001, Intermedium)
[w/ Otomo Yoshihide & Martin Tetreault] Invisible Architecture #1 (2002, Audiosphere)
Stoke (2002, Touch)
[w/ Jacob Kirkegaard] Soaked (2002, Touch)
[w/ Claus Van Bebber] Viny’l’isten (2003, Intermedium)

Starting Point: Stoke (2002, Touch)

Essential: Vinyl Coda I-III (2001, Intermedium)


By: Ed Howard
Published on: 2003-09-01
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