Jan Jelinek’s releases have always been about exploring subtlety and nuance. Perhaps none more so than on his latest album, Zwischen, which translates as ‘between’. The album is about magnifying the sounds between words, layering and manipulating gentle stammers, nervous laughter and pauses for breath.
Jelinek’s source material comes from 12 interviews with public figures, ranging from the likes of Lady Gaga to Marcel Duchamp or Max Ernst. The vocal collages are linked to a synthesiser, triggering discordant reverberations, cloud-minded atmospheres and free-jazz style incarnations of glitch.
It’s a project delivered with sincerity and humour in equal measure. Jelinek has titled each piece with a question from the corresponding interview, ranging from the nonsensical: ‘John Cage I’ve been told to ask you the following question: Where are you going?’ To the potentially uncomfortable: ‘Yoko Ono, you were born into a rich, aristocratic family in Tokyo. Do you see that in yourself?’.
Similarly, we are presented with a range of manipulated responses. ‘Lady Gaga, you once said in an interview that you write music for the fashion industry. Is fashion as important to you as music?’ is a sultry and inviting listen, her effortlessly stylish intonations supported by a bedding of warm, gently fluttering ambience. In another example, Slavoj Zizek’s characteristically rambling and chaotic vocal delivery is fermented into a paranoid expedition into the inner psyche.
Across each offering, Jelinek has managed to distill something of the character of each of his subjects, with typical style and poise. He is one of the few composers able to present considerably abstract, conceptual work, and make it a joy, rather than a chore to listen to.