Jumpel: Samuel Jason Lies On The Beach
Hidden Shoal

Though Jumpel (Jo Dürbeck) isn't well-known in North America (at least not yet), he's clearly a familiar face in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK where he's played over 400 gigs and issued three albums and seven singles (with EMI Germany). Having initiated his foray into electronic music in 1986 with the acquisition of a Commodore C-64, Dürbeck played keyboards, samples, and loops in the band Bones before striking out on his own. In short, he brings a wealth of musical and life experience to this meticulously crafted debut album. He's clearly mastered the technological challenges involved in merging acoustic and electronic sounds into compositional wholes and does so deftly throughout, without succumbing to excess or self-indulgence.

Dürbeck's electroacoustic meditations manage to be both minimalistic yet symphonic too. Strings and especially piano form the nucleus of many pieces, though not so often that the album lapses into predictability. The range of sounds is rich, with subtle acoustic and electronic accents of vibes, tremolo guitar shadings, acoustic bass, drum brushes, gravelly voice samples, and occasional field elements augmenting that pristine core. Moods range from dreamily meditative (“Bills Block”) to melancholy (“Rainday”), and styles extend from a slow-motion dirge (“Raum”) to jazz-blues (“Cleo”) and laid-back funk (“When Does J Come”). The peaceful feel of “Inlinked Castle” is belied by the understated hint of dark portent that seeps in when haunted strings appear in a tentative waver, while the elegant piano ruminations at the heart of “No. 5-11” call to mind the elegant music Philip Glass composed for The Hours. Over the course of the album, Dürbeck reveals himself to be something of an obsessive miniaturist, as he packs the maximum amount of detail into each setting, regardless of length. Even so, Samuel Jason Lies On The Beach feels intimate despite its broad spectrum of instrumental colour and occasional cinematic ambiance.

October 2007