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Philip Jeck, "Sand"

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cover image Run DMC once said that a DJ could be a band, or at least that's how Chuck D paraphrased them.  Dissecting that statement, it is perfectly logical to assume that a slab of vinyl could be an instrument, and this new disc from Philip Jeck proves that.  Working live with record players, junk shop records, old Casio SK keyboards and recorders, Jeck has made a warm, nostalgic album that both personal and inviting.



For the most part, it is near impossible to tell that other people’s music was used in the creation of Sand.  While far beyond the likes of simple sampling, Jeck did largely use prerecorded material as his raw sound sources, but the way he reshapes the sound into entirely new compositions is a testament to his talent and artistry.  The swirling mass of clicks and pops that make up the basis of “Unveiled” could be simply run-out grooves amplified, or could be something else entirely.  And, I doubt the chimes and symphonic loops that occasionally rear their melodic heads among the raw, rough moments sound completely different out of context than they originally did.

There are a few repeated elements throughout the disc, the chimes from the first track reappear in “Chimes Again” (imagine that), and horn fanfares are used in three tracks overall, “Fanfares,” “Fanfares Forward,” and “Fanfares Over.”  The former two allow the horn bursts to be prominent in the mix alongside electronic squeals and harsher elements.  “Fanfares Over” has the horn sounds completely trashed and cut up over top of machine gun tribal percussion and loops like swarms of killer bees overhead.  Throughout its 11 minute duration the track stays dynamic, but also has some repeated segments that show a great attention to musical structure and elements that could easily be otherwise ignored in this context.

Most of the seven tracks on here feature that balance between abstraction and musicality, as well as an equilibrium between outright aggressive noise and careful, delicate melody.  The aforementioned “Chime Again” features a lot of analog grime and distortion, but also beautiful, haunting melodies excised from the recordings and carefully presented as the calm within the storm.  The soft crackles and buried tones of “Residue” become disarming with the quick transitions into jarring, harsher elements.

These gentle elements give a more inviting, personal character to Sand that is often lost in works such as these.  The artwork, as always, by Jon Wozencroft, adds to this with its textural photographs that could be the wallpaper in an older family members home or something else that is warm and familiar, which is a perfect metaphor for this album. 


Last Updated on Sunday, 18 May 2008 14:14  


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