Jan Jelinek Kosmischer Pitch

[~Scape; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental electronic, minimalist techno, ambient electro, Krautrock
Others: Oval, Pole, Stephan Mathieu, Farben, Tim Hecker, Kraftwerk

Like any number of other similar artists that reside in the European glitch/microhouse arena, Berlin's eminently prolific production maestro Jan Jelinek records under a variety of pseudonyms. On the Klang and Source labels, Jelinek has released several of his more dance-friendly records as both Farben and Gramm, respectively. But it is his ~Scape recordings, on which he has chosen to record under his own name, that have been his most influential and, put simply, successful works.

Though it is closer rhythmically and sonically to his earlier Gramm and Farben albums, Jelinek's 2001 full-length Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records was a breakthrough recording in the realm of minimalist techno. Utilizing a hip-hop aesthetic and transposing it upon the "IDM" template, Jelinek created a record constructed solely of samples from vintage jazz albums which were rendered virtually unrecognizable through digital manipulation. With each subsequent ~Scape release Jelinek has moved farther away from the realm of microhouse and into considerably more organic territory.

Kosmischer Pitch is without question Jan Jelinek's most impressive release since his 2001 ~Scape debut. On several tracks, most notably "Universal Band Silhouette," Jelinek returns to his dancier roots with this darkly upbeat techno piece. Though he still uses his sampler as a tool for the deconstruction of otherwise conventional sound recordings, Kosmischer Pitch features an abundance of samples identifiable as "live" instrumentation; six-string and bass guitar in particular. Featuring an assortment of sound fragments lifted directly from the original LPs, Jelinek's pieces vibrate with the warmth and static that accompany vinyl needle noise. Ostensibly an homage to Krautrock, Kosmischer Pitch vaguely references Kraut and early progressive rock, though stylistically it retains a distinctively forward-leaning bent. To be fair, however, Jelinek's new record bears closer resemblance, however tenuous, to the "cosmic music" of Popol Vuh than his 2001 effort did to the jazz recordings that served as its original source material.

Similarly to Loop-Finding-Jazz-Reords, Kosmischer Pitch is a remarkably cohesive recording. The record's eight lengthy pieces are moody and soporific, and convey a ponderous sense of atmosphere. Drones ebb and flow lazily throughout the recordings; even the few pieces which feature a drum machine have, on the whole, a lulling, trance-like effect. Jelinek, unlike many of his musical forebears, never ceases to astonish with his ability to layer seemingly endless layers of samples one upon the other to infuse these pieces with a powerful and tactile musical density. Upon listening to these pieces, particularly on the more drone-heavy second half of the album, it remains difficult to not be impressed with the meticulous construction of the tracks via an apparently infinite number of individual, discrete samples. Though Jan Jelinek has only been putting out albums since 1998, on Kosmischer Pitch, it sounds as if he has been recording for decades.

1. Universal Band Silhouette
2. Lemminge und Lurchen Inc.
3. Im Diskodickicht
4. Vibraphonspulen
5. Lithiummelodie 1
6. Planeten in Halbtrauer
7. Western Mimikry
8. Norphing Leadgitarre Rückwärts

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