Thomas Jirku - Immaterial
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Thomas Jirku
Immaterial

Looking at the titles of the 4 tracks on this release, I have to believe that it's some sort of a slight bit of irony. Named after particles that have an ultra-short halflife (like "Pion"), none of the tracks on this release run under 13 minutes long. In fact, the four tracks just sort of blend together into one large hourlong piece, creating a long wash of subtle tracks that may not grab your attention at first, but will suck you in if you give it the chance. Like much minimal electronic music, this release isn't something that you want to listen to with a short attention span. With subtle melodies and rhythms that ebb and flow, it's best combined with a big set of headphones when you're settling in just before dreamtime, or if you're working on something and need a steady pulse without something that demands all your attention. Comparable to Mille Plateaux artists like Vladislav Delay or even Wolfgang Voigt (Gas), Jirku mixes drones, beats, and field recordings in a rather hypnotic manner.

Personally, I sort of inadvertently stumbled upon quite possibly the best way to listen to this release. It was just the other day that I saddled up my bicycle again and put this release in my discman as I pedaled off to work. As a sidenote that will become more pertinent later, instead of imparing my biking abilities, I actually think that wearing headphones makes me _more_ aware of my surroundings simply because I know that one of my senses is slightly impared. I pay more attention to things visually, and indeed I notice things aurally that I probably wouldn't even parse if it weren't for the overcompensation with the headphones on.

Getting back to the music at hand, the opening track "Meson" opens up with a crackle of static and some mechanized drones that would be rather harsh if they were any louder. Finally, a click-hop beat slowly fades in, and the track begins pulsing along. It was the perfect track to begin my ride, and just about the time I reached the halfway point to work, "Gluon" starts with a rumbling low end before a kick beat comes in alongside some different pitched drones. Meanwhile, the ride to work is fairly calm, and although there are few cars, I actually hear the sound of birds through the headphones and at one point a far off siren.

On the way home from work, I again turn on the discman, and this time start with track three "Baryon." The quiet intro is very short before the almost slippery beat slides into the track and starts it on the journey (which is fitting since post-work traffic is much worse than before). Eventually, an even slightly harder beat rumbles in, and it mingles with the heavy sounds of traffic on the way home, as well as different conversations that weave their way in as I ride by different groups of kids walking home from school. I'm again at the halfway point home when I hit the worst of the traffic, and "Pion" lets the city sounds have the edge with layered, dark tones. Car horns honk, and at one point I even hear the squeak of a womans sneakers as she runs just in front of me at a crosswalk. A few minutes later, I'm out of the cringe zone, and the beat has started in, lulling me the rest of the way home until it fades out as I reach my street and coast home.

Although the disc is enveloping enough to fully surround you when cradling headphones or listening at a sufficient level, I've always found that artifacts of my environment (traffic, bits of conversation, even the squeak of sneakers) are something that makes minimal electronic music great. Sure, it can stand alone if need be, but it can also act as the backbone for a soundtrack that you create every time you listen to it while letting sounds from your environment drift in. Immaterial sounds well in either situation, and on his second release Jirku has created a warm and subtle disc, as well as another fine disc on Substractif.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00