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Jan Jelinek's second full-length disc betrays the features that have distinguished both his work and the consistent output by Stefan Betke's dub/experimental ~scape label. On first listen, Le Nouvelle Pauvreté sounds murky and dark; but that's just an illusion. The sheer contrast between surging darkness and shimmering light provides the basis for the record's crispness and energy. It is, in fact, Jelinek's subtlety and delicate touch that render this abstract work appealing and accessible. So pay attention.
The smears of sound on Le Nouvelle Pauvreté camouflage a stunning level of detail and precision. Each track evolves as a soundscape (however cliche that term may have become), moving fluidly through gradual changes and evolution as loops evolve and devolve. Synth backdrops serve as a platform for bass rumbles, irregular glitchy clicks and scratches, and pulsing harmonies. Samples, clean or altered, ring through loud and clear.
"Davos S" builds off these washes of sound, making it almost halfway before a jazzy organ interlude signals the main theme. As Jelinek's loops continue to fade and evolve, a few simple notes acquire potency. The open spaces between chords and notes makes anticipation a key part of the listening process. On other tracks, Jelinek sings (deep and rumbling, otherwise forgettable), making reference to Stevie Wonder, Brian Ferry, Sun Ra, and Throbbing Gristle. The literal connections with Jelinek's music may not be particularly obvious, but if nothing else they provide some ideas about the inspiration of the song-form concept the artist renders concrete here.
The title of the disc refers to a Belgian anti-fashion movement, which all things considered serves as an a propos analogy. Electronic music has certainly developed its own ugly sense of fashion, which these days is a dismal amalgam of repetitive dance beats and mindless atmospheric wank. Jelinek's music defies both pitfalls to establish a signature sound. Sure, he makes references to mainstream electronica ("If's And's And But's" has that techno thing going on, in its own special way). But the point seems to be to establish his own sonic universe, and that he has done. Like it or not, it's all his own. Fans of experimental minimalist music like Pole will find this disc a welcome discovery. Listeners who demand outspoken drama and action should look elsewhere.
Track Listing: Introducing; Music To Interogate By; Facelift; There Are Other World (They
Have Not Told You Of); My Favourite Shop; Trust The Words of Stevie; If's
And's And But's; Davos S (Trio 'Round Midnight).
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...