Jan Jelinek: Tierbeobachtungen

In which Jan Jelinek plunges further into the hallucinatory vortex of Kosmischer Pitch, last year's homage to early Kraut-rock explorers like Amon Düül. The beat propulsion of Farben and Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records is but a fading memory at this juncture, with Jelinek currently more fixated on psychedelic soundscaping. It's not hard to understand why: his latest music's immersive quality is engrossing, especially when the intensity escalates as it does so commandingly on “A Concert For Television.”

The six pieces on Tierbeobachtungen (Animal Observations) follow a consistent developmental pattern: after beginning unassumingly, a piece gathers energy as it swells in volume and intensity, becoming a hazy slab of slow-moving drift; it eventually reaches a near-breaking point, after which the piece rapidly dissipates and expires; recognizable instrumentation is audible—acoustic guitar, vibes, synthesizer—but Jelinek liberally transforms their natural sounds. After “The Ballad of Soap Und: Die Gema Immt Kontakt Auf” opens with an acoustic marching rhythm ideal for traipsing through the mountainside, dense layers of smeary noise, whistling tones, and blistered distortion accumulate, massing into a lulling drone. Here and elsewhere, the concept is relatively simple, but Jelinek reaps the maximum impact from it. I'd be lying, though, if I said that I find this current phase as satisfying compared to the textural finesse Jelinek realized on Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records and Textstar. Of course, his sound is evolving and so it should but the inimitably unique character of those earlier albums cannot be denied.

December 2006