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Philip Jeck & Jacob Kirkegaard - Soaked

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Artist: Philip Jeck & Jacob Kirkegaard

Album: Soaked

Label: Touch

Review date: Nov. 14, 2002

Drenched in Sound

Although many cite him as an experimental turntablist, over the course of a few great solo records Philip Jeck has built a beautiful world out of record players, and not just the beats they can create. His two most recent records, 1999s Surf and Stoke from earlier this year, nicely display his ability to weave complex patterns of sound, using vinyl to manipulate memories or older images, not rhythms. He’s also quite accomplished in the realm of performance art (with his Vinyl Requiem piece) and radio, with Vinyl Codas I – IV.

Soaked emerges as a document of Jeck’s performance with Jacob Kirkegaard, a noted Danish sound artist. The seven tracks here were documented during the Moers Jazz festival in Germany during this past May and display a wide variety of more ambient textures. The two artists’ natural tendencies often overlap and dovetail nicely, so much so, that at times it sounds like the work of one intensely focused mind.

The first track sets the tone for many of themes visited on this set. Jeck uses his record layers wisely, coaxing longing, graceful sounds out of weathered vinyl. His locked grooves subtly shift the flow of the piece back and forth. Kirkegaard’s electronics are delicately restrained, nicely punctuating the track’s natural rhythm – a bit of a careful melody, with occasional bursts of low-end clattering in the background. The second track begins with a tired recording of a prayer recitation, a lullaby that gradually sneaks its way into song. These sounds are taken and looped and twisted, placed against Kirkegaard’s electronic tinkering. Its effects are nothing short of haunting as the song shifts from voices in the crowd to the wild with ominous chirps and whirs placed into the background of the third track. A growing clatter builds amidst loops that grow more urgent and eerie as the track passes. The fourth track gives way to crackling and static from ancient discs, while the looped, plinking melody suggests something entirely different. As things shift even further, sounds emerge from forgotten satellites and are placed against growing washes of sound. Kirkegaard adds the finishing touches, dropping sine wave rhythms in and out amidst his clanking sound effects. The track ends with the sound of bowed cymbals that gradually fade.

As these collapse into themselves and the background, drones, skipping somewhere underneath the surface, emerge as Jeck’s loops enter ambient brilliance. Touches of an Eastern melody emerge in place of the drones and a plundered vocal is gradually incorporated, only to be overcome by the low end throbs and urgent clatter that introduce the sixth track. Percussive elements struggle and kick in the background while the hums and whirs build in intensity before giving way to chaos. The frenzy calms itself as the percussion fades out and the gentle loops of gorgeous forgotten melodies wash over the beginning of the seventh and final track on the record. A shorter piece, this track relies upon another gradual build in sound, all before quickly giving way to the coming silence.

And then, as quickly as it began, it’s over. The one thing that makes this collaboration work well is the two players’ ability to complement each others styles so well. While Jeck favors weathered images built gradually within his records, Kirkegaard uses his sometimes jarring, sometimes soothing electronics in a variety of complementary ways. This disc doesn’t fill me with the same sense of awe that some of Jeck’s other work does, but it’s an inspired addition to his discography, one that will appeal to fans and casual listeners alike. Which is not to say that it’s all Jeck’s show. Kirkegaard does a fine job establishing his role at times throughout the whole of the set, leaving his fingerprints firmly embedded on Soaked..

By Michael Crumsho

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