Encore: Jan Jelinek - "glitch" from the cracks, pops and hisses of vinyl

Jan Jelinek, photo: www.tinymixtapes.com

Dig through your collection and put on a dusty piece of vinyl and listen to it crackle and pop. There is something warm and comforting about those tiny imperfections that is never present in the pop music of today. Jan Jelinek is the type of musician who loves that old sound. In fact, Jelinek likes it so much he scours through his record collection looking for those perfect inbetween moments. He uses his laptop and sampler and records the hisses and pops of old vinyl and the micro fragments of beats from classic jazz and soul records. From it he makes a type of ambient music called glitch, which is steadily gaining a following worldwide. Jelinek has Czech parents, but he makes his home in Berlin. I recently spoke with him in his Berlin studio.

"I think a lot of artists who are producing a lot of electronic music are more inspired by software development and inspired by music development in a way. So what they are doing is music by accident actually, because the medium they are doing something with the computers is more important than the medium of music. I think different in way. I would not say that technology has a big influence, but I was always more interested in music as a media into history of music. So you can call me something like a fan or a collector of music cause for me it was always important to communicate the medium of music as well and not the medium of technology. But I know there are a lot of artists who think in the opposite."

What types of music do you like the most and what do you typically use for sampling?

"It depends on the project I am working on. For instance, for the Loop Finding Jazz Records album I did 2001 on Scape records, like the title says it. I was focused on sampling jazz records. But now I am producing a new album, I try to finish it the end of this year, and I am more focused into sampling folk records and guitar-based recordings. So actually it depends on which project I am working on. And also it's hard to answer for me because what kind of music I am actually listening to just because I am listening to a lot of genres of. Actually I have a wide field of influences. So of course I am really into soul music and to jazz music, but I also really like some rock or pop music as well. So it's hard for me to answer. Actually, I am not listening to that much electronical music when I am at home. Maybe just because of this phenomenon we talked about before that there are existing so many clones of existing music that I was a little bit bored of it. Actually I am more retro-orientated, I am looking always to a lot of old stuff the seventies or the sixties much more than to contemporary stuff.

Better than any explanation would be an example of how you do it. Could you maybe show us how you take a sample and work with it?

"So this is a loop which is based on one sample which is - I don't want to tell you the source - maybe I will have problems. But very often while I am starting producing these kinds of loops, so it has something more like a harmony a melody and now I am starting to put layers on it, like rhythmical layers chords or whatever. For now I just prepared an organ, just a second layer. [Loud noise] Oops, that is too loud now. There is also a second loop. So far I haven't prepared much more. [Music fades low] And this takes, the whole process is actually nothing else is like editing/adding, more layers, and after I have prepared about eight layers I try to arrange them and that's it."

So what brought you into music, what was the inspiration for it, do you have like a musical family?

"Yeah my father is teaching piano and guitar, but actually I was never interested into playing instruments because I am not interested into learning these automatisms, bodily functions, these bodily automatisms about how to learn guitar chords and stuff like this. I never realized that I am making music since a label was asking me if I am interested into releasing something just because my friends they were all also producing music, but they were all focused on producing electronic music, so their gear were drum computers and synthesizers and stuff like that. And so I borrowed very often this gear and I never realized while I was using a drum computer its music what I am doing. It's more like I am playing a computer game or something like this. It was just to spend my free time on something. So I never had plans on how to compose or whatever.

"I think it's a European phenomenon. Actually, I am receiving a lot of demos from artists that are from Mexico for instance and Latin America who are also producers who are also focused into this kind of music or to this kind of sound. I think that also a lot of European producers were influenced by North American producers as well. It started with this influence from Detroit, and after that may be the European did something else with these influences."

When you come to Czech Republic do you think its a bit of a homecoming?

"Uh, not really. Of course my parents are Czech, but I was born and grown up in Germany so for me I have a real abstract relation to the Czech Republic. Till the nineties it was not able for me to go to the Czech Republic, of course my parents were political refugees, so I don't have a close connection to the Czech Republic.

There were some articles in Czech newspapers and magazines with this issue that I am actually a Czech son or whatever but I think it is a typical Czech phenomenon that there are a lot of artists, people who were grown up in other countries and don't have this special relation to the Czech Republic any more, but they have a real Czech name, a typical Czech name, and maybe they can speak the language because they have Czech parents or whatever, but all these people don't really feel Czech. Tomas Jirku is also an example for this. He grew up in Canada and I once read an article in a Czech magazine with this special issue. It was about Tomas Jirku, Josef Suchy and me. All these children of immigrants who grew up in foreign countries. Yeah I don't know but, Czech people know about us, a special Czech phenomenon or whatever that these kind of immigrants don't have this close connection anymore. So I guess they really know that they are not really sons of Czech Republic."

Magic Carpet - world music in the heart of Europe

Petr Doruzka
Magic Carpet is Radio Prague's monthly music magazine that looks at music from Czech, Moravian and Silesian towns and villages. The programme covers a wide selection of genres, from traditional folk to the exotic and experimental.

It is presented by Petr Doruzka, one of the Czech Republic's foremost music journalists.


18.07.2004: The history of the Prague band Jablkon reaches deep into the past. In 1977 they started as an acoustic trio with two guitars and percussion and their music was in stark contrast to every existing fashion.Jablkon blended instruments with voices in very unorthodox way. The musicians invented a wide spectrum of howls, wails, screams, grunts and other deeply human sounds, and used just the right amount of this vocal seasoning to build a pattern, a momntum of a non-verbal message, or just a joke. Their music was like a well crafted building with a wild back yard; in the large scale architecture you can feel delicate melodies and musical forms of a sophisticated European origin.As years went by, the classical elements of their music became more apparent in 90's, when the band played with the classical violinist Jaroslav Sveceny, and made a rare appearance with a symphonic orchestra. Last year, the band celebrated the first 25 years of it's existence. On a memorable concert in the Prague Archa theatre, Jablkon performed with the Moravian Symphony orchestra and other guest players. Magic Carpet features the live CD from this concert.

Link: www.jablkon.com

15.08.2004: In the era of major companies and global pop it takes a lot of courage to be independent. The fretless bass guitar player Sina and her partner, guitarist Daniel Salontay, formed Slnko Records in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. In the beginning, they burned the CDs on their home computer, packaged them and sent by mail - but with growing success of their company this became harder more difficult. With their band, Dlhe Diely, they were one of the brightest surprises of last years Colours of Ostrava festival. Magic Carpet features both Dlhe Diely and Sina's solo albums.

Link: www.slnkorecords.sk

For copyright reasons we are unable to archive the programmes in audio, but here at least are a few words about some of the recordings featured recently in the programme.


23.5.2004:At the beginning of May the Czech nation celebrated joining the European Union. In Prague a big festival was held: The United Islands, with live music played on the 10 islands on the course of the Vltava River in the city. Yet the final concert took place on the mainland, with the Gypsy Kings, the world famous band from Southern France topping the bill, plus two promising local Roma bands as support, Gulo Car and Bengas. Why are the Gypsy bands so popular? Is this just a short lived fashion, or are Czech audiences bored with the non-Roma mainstream? And what can the Roma bands offer to international audiences?

Link: www.bengas.cz

20.6.2004:For generations the zither was one of the best loved instruments in Czech households. But now the delicate wooden box with a generous array of strings looks more like an antiquity than an instrument people play. The decline of zither in the Czech lands started with independence from the Habsburg Empire. The instrument was often identified as a German import, and the next generation choose to play guitar instead. Now the zither is coming back. One of the most gifted Czech players, Michal Müller, chose to study the instrument at the Vienna conservatory. He graduated 3 years ago, and now he's the one and only Czech zither teacher with a diploma - and also an adventurous and prolific musician.

Link: www.michal-muller.cz

25.4.2004:The six-member group Quakvarteto, led by the violinist Dorothea Kellerova, relishes moving between different musical styles with wit and irony, mixing piano and violin with woodwind, tuba and vocals. In Petr Doruzka's Magic Carpet we hear from their latest CD, adapting Chick Corea's Children's Songs.

28.3.2004:With village music in decline, Petr Doruzka introduces us to one of the Czech Republic's most original and imaginative groups bringing new life to traditional folk songs - the Moberg Ensemble.

See also The History of Music.

Magic Carpet Archive.