“Perhaps this will be the one that does it”, I thought after the opening moments of An Ark For The Listener, trying to fight back the eternal sense of doubt felt when tackling Philip Jeck’s music. Even recognizing the value of some of his earlier projects, many characterized by deeply evocative landscapes interspersed with episodes of utter humdrum, my elevation of Jeck to the top rank of turntable-elicited pathos is postponed pending further evidence. Realized with a typical array of turntables, keyboards and effects (plus bass guitar), Ark is “a meditation on verse 33 of The Wreck Of The Deutschland“, a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins dedicated to five exiled Franciscan nuns who drowned in 1875. A distinctive dramatic poignancy emerges in the two chapters of “The Pilot”, “The All Of Water” and the final “Chime, Chime (Re-rung)”, a sense of regretful recollection recalling William Basinski or Janek Schaefer, but alas, there are stretches where nothing relevant happens, insipidness prevailing upon emotional substance at certain junctures (“Dark Rehearsal” comes to mind). Even so, Jeck’s fascinating selection of misshapen images and smoggy sunsets places the album at a well-above-average level. Still waiting for a genuine masterwork, though.


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