“Philip Jeck works with old records and record players salvaged from junk shops turning them to his own purposes.” For those of us who can’t imagine a more engaging biographical note, Jeck’s new 33-minute epic Arcade is a pure delight.
Recorded live at London’s celebrated Iklectik space in March, the piece features contributions from Yann Novak and Simon Scott. This is turntablism of the highest order.
Jeck has been making music with vinyl and electronics since the early 1980s. He started out (and continues to work) as a visual artist, studying at the Dartington College of Arts.
That southwest England institute has turned out an impressive list of graduates that includes Sonja Klaus, a set decorator, film art director and production designer, composer and political activist Lindsay Cooper, who also played oboe, bassoon and was a member of Henry Cow and composer/educator Patrick Nunn.
Jeck has 11 solo albums to his credit. He’s collaborated with Jah Wobble, Steve Lacy, Gavin Bryars, Jaki Liebezeit, David Sylvian, Sidsel Endresen, Bernhard Lang and Fennesz.
Each of this new work’s elements – and there are too many of them to count – evokes a time, place, feeling or a combination thereof. The work can be enjoyed equally en masse or as an audio mining exercise. Take it all in or pick it apart.
Its density is a significant part of its appeal. Arcade never overwhelms, but there is so much going on here. His application of surface noise may be most impressive.
Jeck uses the device more centrally than others. It’s not just louder that you may be used to, it sits at (or at other times near) the centre of the piece.
It’s a cliché to say that artists like Jeck use the turntable as an instrument. But there really isn’t any other way to put it. The fact that he plays these record players so imaginatively and with such a fine sense of their potential has a lot to do with why he’s such an important artist.
Don’t let this be the only Jeck title in your collection.