Tone 15 – Philip Jeck & Jacob Kirkegaard “Soaked”

CD – 7 tracks – 35:24

This recording is taken from their live performance at the Moers Jazz Festival, Germany, in May 2002

“There are grains of truth in the suggestion that, in moving, you may find yourself in or out of some one’s favour. But, listen to the slow, delicate, even introspective background: some breeze, some chimes, some distant thunder as each focal point remains a lament.”

This blistering work was recorded live at the Moers Jazz Festival, Germany, in May 2002 and follows hot on the heels of Philip Jeck’s highly acclaimed “Stoke” [Touch # TO:56, 2002], about which The Wire said “Philip Jeck has always been good, but Stoke makes him great” and Side-Line wrote: “an essential record for the lovers of meaningful experimental and ambient stuff!”.

Jacob Kirkegaard is a member of Danish combo Aeter who work in a mixed media context. He was born in Denmark, 1975 and is currently studying at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne. Germany. He has taken part in numerous festivals throughout Europe, playing live, improvising with samplers and other electronics, as he does on this recording.

Philip Jeck, meanwhile, sticks to his turntables. He started experimenting with record players back at school in the 1960s, later won the Time Out Performance Award for “Vinyl Requiem” [1993] and has released 3 solo albums for Touch – “Loopholes” [TO:26], “Surf” [TO:36] and the abovementioned “Stoke”. He lives and works in Liverpool.

Track list:

1 – 7. Soaked


The Sound Projector (UK):

What price your Englishness, o listener dwelling in this sceptred isle? Learn the answer on this, another essential Jeck release, this time with added electronic assistance from effects-collaborator Jacob Kirkegaard. Recorded live at a music festival, this is a short work which delivers strong emotional content inside a condensed package – along with the usual breathtaking eeriness that Jeck has made all his own, working exclusively with his collections of old records and barely-functioning turntables. His previous released works – all grand statements, which I recommend – have tended to allow layers of sound to accumulate through the natural process of setting several turntables to spin simultaneously. This new release, though, is more stripped down, intensely focussed on certain particular goals, and creates an effective multi-levelled scenario with only a few elements. The sparing use of echo and other electronic affects, added with tremendous sympathy by Kirkegaard, contribute enormously. I’d guess these men are two well-matched players – taciturn, lean, saying no more than needed. My perception is that Soaked depicts a vague theme – and offers glimpses of this in flickering, faded sonic images. A sad rainy day in England. Children and an old dark schoolhouse. A sad child’s prayer and a song, rendered here with extreme poignancy by a wobbly old record, the voice of its devotional owner so attenuated and wretched it evokes a wealth of complex emotions. A clunking rhythm of a stuck record which evolves into a train ride through a dreary landscape. The atmosphere is muffled, wet and miserable. A Victorian music box (ref track 4) sings from the past.

Nostalgia and faded hopes haunt all the lost souls in this world, their only voice a plaintive squeak and a sigh. Soaked could only be an English recording, a hymn to the Everyman English citizens, generations who have endured 1000 years of wet weather, to the point where bad weather has seeped into our collective bones and interminably dampened our spirits and dashed our hopes. You can smell the wet raincoats, the umbrellas, the wet dogs. I gather Jeck is not a critical artist who hates the inanities of the modern world, but rather a man who is profoundly saddened by it all – the ignorance and the poverty of spirit that has doomed the English for generations. The muffled and indistinct sounds of this record match our emotionally stunted, pinched and repressed nature…Soaked can hold up a true mirror to this segment of our psyche. After 5 or 6 segments of moping around with a gloomy expression, Soaked becomes heavier and quite pro-active towards the end – a robotic war machine clattering along a metal tunnel and knocking holes in brick walls, throwing off sparks and danger. But this is but an episode – a man may resolve to throw off the melancholy of wet and gloomy England, but his courage soon fails, and in his final moments he trundles away to an inconclusive ending, with perhaps a church bell sounding in the distance. [Ed Pinsent]

Dusted Magazine (USA):

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.. [Michael Crumsho]

Bad Alchemy (Germany):

Ein Generationen bergreifendes Meeting von Turntables und Electronics, live am 20.05.2002 im Electronic Lounge auf dem Moers Festival. Vinylist Jeck, Jahrgang 1952 und in Liverpool zuhause, ist kein dezidierter Einzelgnger, das zeigte schon sein “Viny’l’isten”-Projekt mit dem Vinyl + Blech / Six And More-Knstler Claus van Bebber. Hier ist nun der Dne Kierkegaard, 1975 geboren, Student an der Klner Akademie fr Medienkunst und Mitglied der Aerter-Combo, sein Improvisationspartner, der Jeck’s typischen Vinyl-Coda-Loops geruschhaft umsirrt und interpunktiert. Zusammen weben sie einen ambienten Musique-concrte-Vorhang aus Knistern, Knarzen und Glckchenklingklang, eine virtuelle environ-mentale Hlle voller synthetischer ‘Tierstimmen’ und Dreamscape-Singsang. Jeck, den ich selten so dramatisch gehrt habe, und Kierkegaard paaren das Schne mit dem Unheimlichen. Ritualbeats ziehen die Phantasie in ihren Strudel, der Spannungsaufbau ist unwiderstehlich und 35 Minuten viel zu schnell vorbei.

[A generation-spanning meeting of turntables and electronics, recorded live on May 20th 2002 in the Electronic Lounge at the Moers Festival, Germany. Vinylist Jeck (born 1952), based in Liverpool, is not a solo player only, as shown by his “Viny’l’isten” project with Vinyl + Blech / Six And More – artist Claus van Bebber. Here his improvisation partner is Jacob Kirkegaard (born 1975, Denmark), student at the Academy for Media and Arts Cologne and member of the band Aeter, who whirrs around and interpunctuates Jeck’s typical Vinyl-Coda-Loops. Together they weave an ambient Musique-concrete tapestry of hissing, crackle, and bell tingling, a virtual environ-mental soundscape full of synthetic animal voices and dreamscape singsong. Jeck, whom I have rarely heard play so dramatically, and Kierkegaard combine the beautiful with the eerie. Ritual beats pull the imagination into their vortex, the tension buildup is irresistible, and 35 minutes go by much too quickly.]

VITAL (Netherlands):

Not really hot on th heels of ‘Stoke’ (we were just late with the review two weeks ago) is an album which Philip Jeck recorded with Jacob Kirkegaard. The later is a member of Aerter, a Danish mixed media group, which I unfortunally never heard of. He plays samplers and electronics and here in combination with Philip Jeck’s turntables. The recording was made at the Moers Jazz festival in Germany in May 2002. Their duo improivsation falls apart in seven pieces, combining the rhythmicalities of Jeck’s vinyl work and Kirkegaard’s samples. I can’t help to see this is as a very free form improvisation. Darker ambiences most of the times in which it is easy to search for a form and then building up from there once a bunch of nice sounds is determined, such as in the sixth piece. Good, sturdy improvised electronic music, but also one that doesn’t have those great moments. If five stars would be great, I’d give it three stars. (FdW)

Soundvision (USA):

There is a new calm in the air. Lilting female voices sway to lullabies while steam seeps and water droplets beat. Soaked sounds very wet. While Jeck mans the turntables, Kirkegaard tames the electronic beast within. Recorded at the Moers Festival in Germany (an international new jazz festival), there are warning signs and other voices assembled here. Over a short thirty-five minute set of seven nameless tracks, we witness a growth cycle. There are several moments of timed/planned vs. improvised/live playing here. The sonic nurturing comes alive in the dance of several gestural movements. It’s like that of a crisp white sheet billowing on a line outdoors, in slow motion in moments and then there is a happenstance in the roulette dramaticism and scary monsters on track six. Out of sync layers of rumbling noises, spinning wildly as it reaches climax and soaks through the undertow reverberation of heavy bass.Bring your towel. [T J Norris] (USA):

Recorded during their live performance at the May 2002 electronic offshoot of the Moers Jazz Festival in Germany, “Soaked” brings together the talents of AQ-favorite, avant-turntablist Philip Jeck and the relatively unknown artist Jacob Kirkegaard, who is a member of the Danish multi-media ensemble Aeter. The lumbering drones, tiny textural ornamentations, and radioactive vinyl crackling that we’ve come to expect from Jeck are certainly present on “Soaked.” Yet, Kirkegaard’s contributions for electronics, samplers, and possibly some laptop synthesis act as interesting digitized counterpoint to the analogue antiquity normally associated with Jeck. Alongside Jeck’s slow-motion fluctionations of old ballroom orchestrations (just a guess, all of his sounds have been blurred well beyond the point of recognition), Kirkegaard interjects non-repeating melodic phrases and digital glitchiness. As this 35 minute composition progresses, both Jeck and Kirkegaard incrementally push towards more jagged and abrasive sounds beyond Jeck’s ghostly collages, into rather dissonant elements that sounds like gasping ventilators, clattering bicycle wheels, and straining diesel motors. A bit of a detour for Jeck, but nevertheless a very worthwhile experiment!

All Music Guide (USA):

This collaboration between sound artist Philip Jeck and electronician Jacob Kirkegaard was recorded live at the Moers Festival (Germany) in May 2002. A short set of 35 minutes released hot on the heels of Jeck’s solo CD Stoke, Soaked accomplishes little more. Jeck’s sound universe is peculiar and characteristic. His antiquated turntables spin voices from the past. Their careful juxtaposition create eery interplays. It is a question of balance between the aleatory evocations of a cadavre exquis and pure sound art. Kierkegaard’s electronics disrupt this balance. After a very soft introduction where a turntable spins an hymn under layers of digital electronics, things escalate. Kirkegaard’s CD skipping emulates Jeck’s techniques, his laptop wizardry tries to frame the less reliable behavior of an army of old turntables. The music reaches a peak in the sixth of seven indexes, almost too loud for what preceded it, and then retracts like the waters at ebb tide for a short catharsis. Soaked is a good piece of improvised sound art and the two protagonists clearly make an effort to listen to each other and make their contributions meet, but in the end it remains an average piece, weaker than Stoke or the Vinyl Coda series. [FC]

Hybrid Magazine (USA):

This album is a live performance/collaboration between Philip Jeck and Jacob Kirkegaard at the German Moers Jazz Festival, from May of this year. Kirkegaard, a member of Danish mix media group Aeter, has performed at a number of festivals with the aid of samplers and other electronic gear and is currently studying at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. In addition to his live work, he has been involved in the creation of a massive number of projects including installations and film work that incorporate loops, projections and sound experiments into multimedia works. Philip Jeck is known for salvaging old vinyl and turntables second hand and incorporating into his work with other electronics and analog gear. He began his work in the early 80’s, performing solo and with many theatre and dance companies. After working on music projects for a number of years, he ventured back to visual arts via installations and won the Time Out Performance Award in 1993 for a ‘Vinyl Requiem’ a piece created for 180 record players that he collaborated on with Lol Sargent. It is interesting to witness the merging of ideas between Keck and Kirkegaard as ‘Soaked’ slowly builds from delicate fragments of old records and samples and then into an intense frantic breakdown before once again returning to a beautiful and personal translation of the original sound sources. This is not a noise record or a performance of recognizable samples but a new approach and transformation of sound created by pre hi-end digital technology and a lot of innovative ideas. Excellent work. [Justin Hardison]

re:mote induction (net):

Just in, the latest release from Touch, a collaboration by Jeck and Kirkegaard. Recorded live in May of this year, Soaked follows quickly after Jeck’s third album for the label Stoke. The disc arrived yesterday, but as I arrived home late I only had time to put it in my portable CD player for listening to in the morning. Of course it turns out that the sound level is pretty quiet, as the description on the disc should have warned me. So sitting on a train first thing in the morning is clearly not the best environment for listening to material of this sort – low harmonic swirls that could be described as sheer and reflective drones, mixing with rumbles and crackles, all at a subdued level so that it melds together in complimentary manner.

Of course now that I am sat in a more stable environment I’ve popped it back in and am giving it a first listen. I enjoy Philip Jeck’s work, particularly gaining that appreciation having seen him live at the end of last year – though trying to put into words how his sound works isn’t entirely easy. Here the sound of his vinyl manipulations seems to form the base layer of the compositions. While Kirkegaard seems to work more with samplers and sampled sounds, a Danish artist who I am encountering here for the first time. With the title Soaked there is a sense of a water theme, with presumably Kirkegaard providing glubs and trickles of watery sound – clearly resolved sounds against the typical haze of sounds generated by Jeck.

By the second track the volume has increased to a more amenable level for listening. Kirkegaard’s presumed input becoming more discernible with buzzes and flares. Being a live recording the CD flows generally from one piece to another without much fanfare about the matter, the shift from 2 to 3 almost unnoticed, the thematic flow continuing while the presence of sound lifts with bass pulses and bird calls mixing with the slight vinyl skips which almost form a rhythm. The entire disc has 7 tracks over the course of about 35 minutes, which strikes me as being a fairly agreeable length for a live set – enough to create impressions, short enough so that the attention span of a live environment doesn’t start to wander.

The third track features some more abrupt sounds, clashes and dunts, though they are transitory impressions. With the fourth piece coming out of a moments silence and the more subdued feel of high, whistle edged strokes and emergent crackle. Wobbly, hesitant melody starts to appear for the first time, piano notes with perhaps some wind instrument weaving in through peripheries. Building up the sort of vibrancy that reveals the charm and appeal of this kind of composition.

As the performance continues we can equate different sounds to each of the artists by the nature of the techniques that each uses – the swirls and buzzes or clanks and the like of Kirkegaard are clean and clear, perhaps one could say digital, which come across as direct contrasts to those of Jeck which is perhaps more organic. Though with the likes of track 5 there is a sense of there being a middle ground, listening to the harmonic hums and strokes of notes one can be less certain of who is responsible for what in the layers mixing. The waver of a snake charmers flute wafts through the cloudiness, a looping stroke circling the core of detail. This is looking to be the most promising passage of Soaked so far.
Development sees the 6th part become more rhythmic, beats to chase of the flute, market rhythms contrasted by spindle wheel chatter. With this part the pair get worked up, going through the most agitated and kinetic section. Bringing it back down to swirling layers for the final section. Fading off with birds sounds into more inaudible territory to conclude the performance.

Philip Jeck and Jacob Kirkegaard
Ausland, Berlin, 05.04.2003

One of the most fascinating musical events came by the UK/Danish duo Philip Jeck and Jacob Kirkegaard during an evening Berlin had to offer a lot. These two musicians produced a highly intellectual, refined and subtle evening divided in two parts. The first part, where the audience could sit down, was very ambient with lovely water samples and tingling bells. The music was decent, fine-tuned and caressed minimal changes. The second part after the break, in which a DJ created a completely different atmosphere, was without chairs. The music was harsher, and louder. Unfortunately that last was also true for the audience. This second part started where the first left off, with nice bells that kept changing. An electric tune appears, as a sort of destruction, leaving again as nothing happened. The music gets more robust, heavier and almost industrial. Harsh electronics come and go, in a pattern. The music remains still sophisticated though, and is fully under control. The music creeps in various directions, like water it tries to finds its way to lower grounds. A sort of rhythmic sound of breaking glass has been combined with vibrating electronics with some noise on top of it. More sounds are incooporated, reminding of a distorted choir and the music by Deadbeat. The next episode is dark, like rhythmic organic electronics with sounds of water that intensify, making the music rather tense, grabbing you by the throat like a good thriller. The atmosphere changes after a while, becoming almost holy with bouncing beats interwoven. The last part of the concert reminded of a film score. The music was classical, a piano could be heard in the background, and ends with heavy, slowed-down distorted rhythms that disappear till there is nothing left anymore. Both composers have released material on Touch. Philip Jeck works with old records and record players salvaged from junk shops turning them to his own purposes. The result is very sophisticated and serious, one can hear the art in his material. Jacob Kirkegaard’s outputs are full of fragile sounds containing lo-fi noises and distant spaces with a discreet but sensible touch. The cooperation of these talented artists resulted in a fascinating live show. Let’s hope this will be released one day. [Paul, Phosphor]