Philip Jeck is one of the masters of warped media. His work with vinyl, for example, takes fixed recordings — frozen documents of sound — and transforms them, ambitiously, into ambiguous territory. Like many manipulators of the LP, he plays with texture, but not just the texture of the media, also the texture of the music as it slowly … falls … apart.
It’s one thing to mess with a recording until it is no longer familiar, to snatch a repurpose-worthy riff from the jaws of copyright infringement. It’s another entirely to leave that recording largely recognizable, and instead to celebrate its distant memory by fogging the memory. Jeck replicates the effects of memory by muddying the water of his appropriated melodies, and in turn memory — the desire for memory, what we more commonly refer to as nostalgia — becomes his subject matter.
That approach reaches a mournful, artfully melodramatic height in “Live at the BrÃ¼cknerhaus,” a captured performance from earlier this month. By all appearances — including the above photo, as murky as the audio — there is no vinyl involved, but still there is that Jeck approach, melodies slowed to a pace that allows you to listen through them (MP3).