TS10 – Philip Jeck & Marcus Davidson “Spliced”

7″ vinyl only, not available for digital download
Cut by Jason @ Transition
Artwork and photography by Jon Wozencroft

Track listing:

A: London Tenderberry 4:09
B: Tenderberries Version 4:22

Live at the The Museum of Garden History, London, 8 May 2009.
Keyboards: Marcus Davidson. Record players, editing & overdubbed bass: Philip Jeck.
“Trains of blossom, trains of music.”

Philip Jeck studied visual art at Dartington College of Arts. He started working with record players and electronics in the early ’80’s and has made soundtracks and toured with many dance and theatre companies as we as well as his solo concert work. His best kown work “Vinyl Requiem” (with Lol Sargent): a performance for 180 ’50’s/’60’s record players won Time Out Performance Award for 1993. He has also over the last few years returned to visual art making installations using from 6 to 80 record players including “Off The Record” for Sonic Boom at The Hayward Gallery, London [2000]. Philip Jeck works with old records and record players salvaged from junk shops turning them to his own purposes. He really does play them as musical instruments, creating an intensely personal language that evolves with each added part of a record. Philip Jeck makes geniunely moving and transfixing music, where we hear the art not the gimmick. His latest album for Touch is due in the summer of 2010.

Marcus Davidson was a chorister at Worcester Cathedral. He read Music at Birmingham University, studying composition with Vic Hoyland, and later received a masters degree in composition at City University, London, studying with Rhian Samuel. Marcus has worked particularly in the fields of music for dance and music-comedy, arranging and writing for stage, radio, video and television. He specialises in playing for Ballet and Contemporary Dance at London professional schools, and is a member of Spire, the Organ based project by Touch. Spire has performed at the Hardingtonar Festival 2008, York Minster in 2007, the Festival of Holland 2006, the Fuse Leeds 2006 contemporary music festival, the Gas Festival 2005 in Stockholm, La Batie Festival 2004 in Geneva, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. He has recorded an album of Celtic-inspired music, Ribbon of Time, with Rob Millner, and is also writing a ballet.

Here the two artists collaborate on vinyl for the first time…


Dusted (USA):

I’m not sure that the 7” single is the best format for experimental/drone music, but if you are going to buy some drone singles you might as well go with some of the Touch Seven series. They are beautifully packaged, with striking full-color photographs on thick card stock covers, and so far have made the format work for this kind of music. This is the tenth installment in the series (other volumes are by notable artists like Lawrence English, People Like Us, Chris Watson, Mika Vainio, and Fennesz) and features long-running UK turntablist Philip Jeck, who has made a number of great full-lengths of shimmering drones, and keyboardist Marcus Davidson, who I was not previously familiar with. This 7” was recorded live at London’s Museum of Garden History Museum in May of 2009 and features two tracks that alternate between barely there drone and giant swells of sound that sometimes resemble the Italian horror movie soundtrack work of Goblin. What is most notable about the playing is that it is pretty much impossible to tell what sounds are coming from keyboards and what sounds are coming from Jeck’s turntables. Very impressive stuff. [Chris Strunk]

Foxydigitalis (USA):

Turntablist and “sourcerer” Philip Jeck and keyboardist Marcus Davidson create a gorgeous slice of atmosphere on the tenth installment of the UK label’s artful 7-inch series. On side A, cosmic keyboard masses loom ominously amidst subtle rhythmic swirls, with phasing effects used prominently. Side B is quieter, with keyboards almost resembling soundtrack pieces, and the rhythm reduced to a whisper, creating an environment in which every sound has value and takes the piece in a different direction. This is masterfully and subtly composed, with the timbres between Jeck’s prerecorded material interleaving with Davidson’s keyboards to form sublimely restrained, unresolved swells. 9/10 [Travis Bird]

Boomkat (UK):

The two tracks on this 7″ were recorded at a performance by Philip Jeck and Marcus Davidson during a long-weekend of events and talks revolving around the themes of Hauntology and sounds of the natural world in early summer 2008 in the resplendent surroundings of London’s Museum Of Garden History, located on the South Bank. Davidson plays keyboards and Jeck uses his familiar, but enigmatic array of record players, editing and overdubbed bass to create majestically blooming harmonics and beautifully textured patterns that draw us in and envelope us within their lush clasp. As with anything Philip Jeck is involved with, the magical connotations seem the most appropriate, as they elicit something unimaginably life-affirming in the A-side’s ‘London Tenderberries’ which he duly morphs into an inverse dimension of dub-distanced and intangible subbass strafes moving across the stereo field within opaque atmospheres that seem to leave a fine layer of Thames fog mixed with ultra-fine pollen on the surface. Mystical, phantastical and utterly compelling material.

Aquarius (USA):

Most readers of the aQ list won’t need much more in the way of a review here than simply this: NEW PHILIP JECK. That’s the way we are certainly. Easily our favorite turntablist / sound sculptor / soundscaper, every Jeck record a new fuzzy, warbly exploration of some forgotten otherworld, the magic of his music in part due to the fact that his sounds are not so obviously created with records and turntables, like Strotter, or the Caretaker, his sounds exist as ghostly songs, broadcast from another time, or place, their construction, while fascinating and wondrous, are not critical to the enjoyment of the sound, and what a sound, warm, and lush, sepia toned, softly blurred, out of focus, woozy and warbly and daydreamy. But by now, you like us, are indeed appropriately obsessed with the music of Philip Jeck, and thus are as excited as we are about THIS. Two new songs both record live at The Museum Of Garden History in London, Jeck is teamed up with keyboardist Marcus Davidson, who we first heard on those Spire releases from a little while back, live recordings of various performances in acoustically unique spaces, often churches and cathedrals, hence Spire. The two are a perfect match, their sounds blending seamlessly into a shimmery organic whole, it’s impossible to tell where the keyboards begin and the turntables end, or if that’s Jeck playing bass, or just some warped old piece of vinyl, or if those washed out swirls of notes are being pulled from grooves or actually played by Davidson, but again, it hardly matters, the sound is ephemeral and spectral, slow swells of softly effected chordal swirl, fuzzy indistinct textures, a barely there rhythmic pulse, serene and so so lovely.

The flipside starts out with what we can only assume is Jeck’s bass, spaced out and spidery and slooooow, a warm languid creep, the low end pulsations ringing out into the ether like ripples on a pond, until near the end when the bass(?) gathers a bit of fuzz, unleashing some softly warped crunch, and some effected synthy squelch, like a disembodied dubstep warble, slowed way down and stretched way out and allowed to undulate lethargically before settling back down into that warm washed out warble.
As always, fantastic, and again, beautiful design and layout courtesy of Touch head honcho Jon Wozencroft.

Brainwashed (USA):

Recorded live as a duet between turntables and keyboards (with editing and overdubbing bass added later), the main track here is a slow, dramatic piece, with the flip side conjuring the best moments of electronic dub.

While artists who specialize in the use of a turntable as an instrument are a dime a dozen, no one else really uses the device as creatively or as intensely as Jeck. Truly “playing” it, rather than just using it as a way to sample or scratch records, he coaxes sound out of the players that bear little or no resemblance to the source material. “London Tenderberry” is a piece of slow drama that has no overt “record” sounds in it: shimmering synth pads, reverberated bangs and crashes, and a gurgling bass pulse meet to create a flowing river of opaque sound. The flip side, “Tenderberries Version” is not an ironic title at all, cutting the mix from the previous side up into throbbing bass and electronic synth pulses, leading to a complex variety of tone and rhythm, but with an intense dub sensibility that stands with the best of the genre.

Within the confines of a 7-inch record, I must admit that this is a case where less isn’t more. Sometimes a project or specific work is best kept within a sub-12 minute space, where it is able to make its statement without becoming stagnant or repetitive, but that’s not this record. The complex nuances of the A side and the electro-like bass heavy flip just left me wanting more. Which is, I assume, the best compliment I could give. [Creaig Dunton]

The Wire (UK):

Lovely live duet for Jeck’s turntables and Davidson’s keyboards, recorded at a festival at the Museum of Garden History in London. The line between the sources is not as clear as you’d imagine, and the music is a seamless, rudderless surge of sounds, soundtrackish at one moment, experimental ghost-prog the next. [Byron Coley]

Hawai (Chile):

Dos de los últimos lanzamientos del sello británico Touch son estos, parte de la serie Touch Seven, discos que nacen del amor por los singles y por el vinilo. Estos trabajos solo aparecen en formato pequeño: siete pulgadas, dos caras, todos unidos por un mismo artwork, variando tan solo los colores y las fotografías que los ilustra, siempre a cargo de Jon Wozencroft. El número diez de la serie corre a cargo de dos músicos conocidos del label londinense. Uno es Philip Jeck, conocido turntablelista que iniciara a principios de los ochenta, usando viejos discos y reproductores, la mayoría a punto de ser desechados. Su relación con Touch comienza con “Loopholes” (Touch, 1995) y se prevé para el verano europeo un nuevo disco. El otro es Marcus Davidson, tecladista y compositor que ha trabajado para danza y teatro, además de ser parte de Spire, un proyecto ligado a Touch y basado en música generada por órganos. este 7” los une en dos exquisitas piezas. Grabado en vivo en una presentación que tuvo lugar en el Museo de Historia del Jardín, en Londres, el 8 de Mayo de 2009, Jeck y su reproductor y un bajo (sobrepuesto) y Davidson y su teclado crean dos piezas fluorescentes y en pleno florecimiento. “London Tenderberry”, la cara A, nos ofrece unos sonidos sintetizados en expansión, unos drones suaves venidos del espacio interior. “Tenderberries Version” parte del mismo punto en quedo el anterior, siguiendo los mismos patrones, pero aún más expansivos, casi se diría que cósmicos, apuntalado por unas pocas notas de piano. Ambos temas más que sonar, se arrastran. Serían el acompañamiento perfecto para un documental que mostrara el brote de unas flores en toda su magnificencia natural, unas flores de color rojo intenso, las mismas de la portada. “Trains of blossom, trains of music”.

El otro lanzamiento es “Incongruous Harmonies”, y corre por cuenta del australiano Lawrence English, como saben ya, el jefe de Room40. Hace dos temporadas atrás se estrenó en Touch con el largo “Kiri No Oto” (2008) [039], y en este single presenta dos piezas para el grupo Circa y su obra ‘Mirando el placer de los otros’. Este, como la obra a la que acompaña, fue diseñado para ‘experimentar el dolor de una mujer y la pureza del placer’, y al menos en la música alcanza un gran nivel de intensidad. Como en ese citado trabajo, English continua expandiendo el ruido hasta acercarlo a la belleza más pura, a través de melodías monotonales, corrientes de basura sonora estática, restos de sonidos que se esparcen por el ambiente, formando parte de una gran masa drónica de no más de diez minutos. Ambas piezas llegan a resplandecer, y sus armonías logran brillar, pese a estar ocultas en este magma de impurezas. La primera parte, “Without Sanctuary”, parece ser una capa de ruido coral, y una y otra más sobre ella, escondiendo una sencilla y preciosa melodía. “One Thousand Miles Of White” son precisamente mil millas de (ruido) blanco y suave, grabado otras mil millas adentro del mar, uno de los sonidos a los que más recurre English, y siempre con una melodía muy en el fondo. Ambos trabajos son una buena forma de resumir someramente el espíritu del sello, y ambos contienen piezas que justo por ser de una duración corta, son aún más refrescantes, dentro del gratificante exceso al que muchas veces se llega. “Spliced” una agradable muestra de música floral, e “Incongruous Harmonies” es, desde ya, uno de los singles de lo que va de este año.