Jan Jelinek: Tierbeobachtungen

[19 February 2007]

By Dan Raper

If you’re familiar with Jelinek’s widely praised album of 2005, Komischer Pitch, you’ll be prepared for the new one—the same abstraction and organic, warm feel, but this time the last vestige of electronica, the percussion, has given way to atmospherics alone. Not that this is all shimmer, surface or background noise; Jelinek is an expert at teasing out of a built loop of sound particular feeling, mood and emotion. It’s complex in the sense of shifting time signatures, polyphonic lines of guitar, organ and synthesizers, and uneven program music-style meanderings. Throughout, two things are more or less constant—a rising and falling background of static noise; and a narrative arc shared by a number of songs that builds complexity, climaxes in gorgeous texture, and fades out. Think of a modern re-interpretation of Barber’s “Adagio” and you’ll understand the form well. Still, some individual tracks stand out from the low-fi wash: “Palmen Aus Leder” builds on a rustling, oceanic heave; “The Ballad of Soap Und: Die GEMA Nimmt Kontakt Auf” is like a demented, hiccupping skeleton march, with weirdly plucked acoustic guitar and a wandering, eerie synth over the top. The final, title, track begins with almost a minute and a half of silence; somehow it’s no “secret”; as the sound of a radio beam rises from nowhere you realize how skillfully Jelinek’s just manipulated sound, drawing texture even from silence. This is what makes this complex, restive music compelling.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/jan-jelinek-tierbeobachtungen/