Jan Jelinek: Willfully Aggressive Ambience

Jan Jelinek: Willfully Aggressive Ambience

Recording under a wealth of different names, Jan Jelinek, over the last decade or so, has gone and delved into the DMZ between ambient electronic music and (almost) sample based hip hop while referencing everything from jazz to rock.

In some ways Jelinek’s take on the medium is akin to what the Bomb Squad was credited with devising during the late eighties. Backing up Public Enemy with productions, the Bomb Squad remained indebted to traditional constructions of hip hop beats. But using only the most aggressively toned samples allowed the teams music to come off as markedly different when compared to its peers.

Jelinek shouldn’t be perceived as innovative in the same way, but the German born producer does share a penchant with the Bomb Squad for plucking out odd samples and incorporating them into a larger piece of music. Instead of being willfully aggressive, though, Jelinek’s work often just escapes being ambient in nature.

The first album released under his own name – and not as Farben or Gramm – was Jelinek’s 2001 Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records issued through the Scrape imprint. The tag IDM is pretty tired at this point and it’d be difficult to peg any of the eight tracks here as dancefloor bangers. But compositions like “Moire (Strings)” boast a beat, just a minimal, glitchy one. Whatever snippet of strings the producer’s mined for the main melodic sample – that term melodic being applied pretty liberally – barely progress from its first voicing. While not advancing that portion of the song, various watery sounding droplets make their way into the track working to add some sort of rhythmic variation.

What’s engaging about Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records, though, isn’t its broad and sweeping musical gestures. It’s the fact that the most simple of samples can be manipulated and spun out into something clocking in at six and a half minutes. No, there’s not a lot that goes on here, but the atmosphere’s nice. Maybe this is for making love as opposed to fucking.

A few years on in 2006 Tierbeobachtungen found its way to the public. There’d been a few releases between the two albums, but for the most part Jelinek turns in a pretty similar effort. The marked difference between this long player and its antecedents is only that the noisy samples are actually allowed to be a bit noisy – “Palmen Aus Leder” would have been too aggressive sitting in the middle of Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records. So, while there’s not great derivation in the guy’s catalog, that only works to make it a completely enjoyable, digital ride.