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An Ark For The Listener

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Album Review

Since the 1980s, Philip Jeck has been creating sound sculptures — some of them quite abstract, others structured with beats and audible progressions — using junk-shop record players, outdated Casio keyboards, basses, effects, and other digital and analog miscellanea. An Ark for the Listener started out as a live performance at Kings Place London in February of 2010; after about a dozen more live performances, Jeck took recordings of them back to his home studio, extracted passages from the recordings, and used those extracts to create a new studio version. The seven-part piece was inspired by a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem about a shipwreck in which five nuns drowned, though the music contains no explicit musical or lyrical referents to it. It opens in a dark and arrhythmic mode with "Pilot/Dark Blue Night," a track that gradually becomes oddly brighter and more open, incorporating what sound like creepily altered radio samples; "Ark" blends chiming bell tones with glockenspiel sounds, and is aimlessly lovely. "Pilot Reprise" and "The All of Water" sound like afterthoughts, with chords and noise carelessly piled on, but "The Pilot (Among Our Shoals)" is especially interesting: faintly sampled beats combine with almost recognizable melodic fragments to create something that sounds like a remix of a Bill Nelson track circa 1983. The album closes with a couple of remixes, both of them quite pleasant.


Born: 1952 in England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In territory similar to Christian Marclay and David Shea, Philip Jeck is an English avant-garde turntablist, plunderphonic sample terrorist, and performance artist whose most famous installation, Vinyl Requiem, included no less than 180 turntables. After studying the visual arts at Dartington College in Devon, Jeck began a performance career that found him at art galleries as well as warehouse parties, where he emulated the turntable tricks of American hip-hop DJs like Grandmaster Flash. It was during...
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An Ark For The Listener, Philip Jeck
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