Jan Jelinek: Kosmikcher Pitch

Revisionism's a wonderful thing, ain't it? The term 'prog,' reviled for so many years—nay, decades,—continues to undergo rehabilitation at the behest of artists like Jan Jelinek. With Kosmischer Pitch (Cosmic Pitch), the Berlin-based soundscaper subtly references—his atomised samples are so minuscule that implied, even tangential, rather than overt associations emerge—the progressive Krautrock sound of Amon Düül, Popol Vuh, Klaus Schulze, and Tangerine Dream. But don't get the wrong impression: the sound is still trademark Jelinek—there's no shortage of hypnotic smears and loops—just one now inhabiting a considerably more tranquil and submersive zone than before. “Universal Band Silhouette” announces that change at the outset with Jelinek adding wah-wah and phased guitar effects to a hazy field of crackle and acoustic bass. A psychedelic aura permeates the material as it rises from dense pools of magma and builds in volume and intensity. Some songs escalate hallucinatorily (the stuttering jaunt “Lithiummelodie 1,” “Planeten in Halbtrauer”) while others adopt pensive and static poses (“Lemminge und Lurchen Inc.,” with its metronomic weave of thumb piano plucks and tinkles). One of the album's most attractive pieces, the lulling “Vibraphonspulen,” swims in a limpid pool of foggy, clipped textures, with the bright ping of vibes rising over rippling layers. With its softly knocking ostinatos and grinding layers of clicks, blips, and machine whirrs, “Im Diskodickicht,” conversely, is especially trance-inducing. Though the material is primarily new, “Western Mimikry” revisits “Post-Crossings,” Jelinek's contribution to last year's Hitek By Meteosound comp under his Exposures alias.

Admittedly, Kosmischer Pitch lacks the supple microhouse propulsiveness of 2001's Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records; what were once infectious dance grooves are now lulling meditations of swaying drift. There's no denying, however, that Jelinek's textured shimmer lends itself perfectly to music of this atemporal and blurry sort. And, to his credit, he subtly shifts the focus with every release, whether it's the glitch-laden microsound of Gramm's Personal Rock, the jazz-oriented direction explored with Triosk on 1+3+1, or the hip-hop abstractions of The Exposures' Lost Recordings 2000-2004.

November 2005