Philip Jeck - Sand
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Philip Jeck

Although there are other musicians that haunt similar territory, the work of Philip Jeck has stood out as fairly unique now for the past several years that he's been making it. Only a couple other artists working with similar setups (such as Saule) are as easily identifiable on first listen, and time after time Jeck stands out with his time-ravaged ambience. His last full-length 7 arrived several years ago, but that doesn't mean Jeck hasn't kept busy, contributing a stunning piece to the Spire: Live In Geneva Cathedral Saint Pierre and teaming up with Alter Ego and Gavin Bryars on the recent reworking of The Sinking Of The Titanic (1969-).

By Jeck standards, Sand is fairly familiar in terms of overall construction and output. His work has been steady and sure for some time now, and despite a couple small ripples, it's not like you're doing to get dramatic changes from one album to the next. If anything, though, this newest effort might be a bit more dynamic overall, as it's imbued with his usual sense of decay while also having a couple downright triumphant moments and some blasts of sheer noise. Both "Unveiled" and "Chime Again" start off in familiar territory, but it's during the latter where some soft loops of orchestral swooning peak through the mist for just a moment, hinting at things to come.

Offsetting the remaining tracks on the release are three tracks that all use samples of Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare For The Common Man," and all of them have an understandable level of grandiose beauty that sounds just a slight bit more uplifting than one normally hears on a Jeck release (especially the slow-building "Fanfares Forward," which clicks along with weird squeaks and scrabbles before plowing through a submerged, but still glorious finale. In other places, "Shining" and "Residue" are much more minimal, drifting with some soft humming drones and looping crackles of static that feel like giant come-downs after some of the other highs on the release. At this point in his discography (this is his fifth full-length for Touch Records), Sand is probably essential mainly for hardcore followers of his work, but like other artists working in such unique and specific ways, it does at least show some slight progression in sound, no matter how subtle.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2008-05-15 20:51:06