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Philip Jeck

An Ark for the Listener

(Touch; US: 28 Sep 2010; UK: 28 Sep 2010)

Philip Jeck’s process alone, of creating records through the use of layers of junk-shop turntables, is fascinating. Each of his records re-imagines the idea of instrument, because though there are keys and bass to be found, in the end it is the spinning records, the hissing roil of them, that takes center stage. An Ark for the Listener, a cycle based on part of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “The Wreck of the Deutchsland”, is another solid accomplishment from the composer, and proof that there’s plenty of variety left in his spinning sound six albums in. Despite its ambient feel, there’s nothing gliding or droning about Jeck’s sound here. This music grinds. It churns. Sometimes, particularly on “The Pilot (Among Our Shoals)” and “Chime, Chime (Rerung)”, it clatters and clangs. The album, with its insistent movement and shifts between swelling noise and negative space, both fits in with, and twists in new directions, the sounds we’ve heard from Jeck before. The one added layer of intrigue here, that Jeck is interpreting his own live performance from an installation in April 2010, does little to add to an already full sound. There’s already plenty to chew on in Jeck’s work, and while this one might not quite match his best, falling short of the mastery of Sand, it is still damned arresting music.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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