um bleep bloop – uh – um mmmmmm glitchy swooshing – ehhhhhh – uh chewing sounds – hahahahaha!…and that’s pretty much how the new Jan Jelinek album, ‘Zwischen’, goes.
It’s almost 30 minutes of near-ASMR glitch composed of the non-linguistic part of human communication. As a strangely human form of sound art, I find myself pretty amused that forms of autonomous sensory meridian response are being exposed to a more mainstream audience these days. ASMR itself is bizarrely engrossing, making any unassuming listener’s skin crawl in either repulsion or tenderness.
While ‘Zwischen’ might not be strictly ASMR-related, Jelinek pushes what the art form can do by creating a radio play that literally breaks down the between-word noises made by often-famous interviewees (Zwischen is German for “between”). Who even guessed we’d get a Jan Jelinek album featuring Lady Gaga at some point as well? This is an interesting record, made by and featuring none other than strictly human sounds, warped and deconstructed until it falls in that uncanny valley of dissociative humanism.
"Every vocalised sound on the record is programmed to trigger some series of effects, some being very disorienting; the sound design borders on phenomenal and enveloping at all times."
Most of what we hear on the record is non-melodic, the closest to any conventional tune being found on the aforementioned and excellent album centrepiece, “Lady Gaga, You Once Said In An Interview That You Write Music For the Fashion Industry. Is Fashion As Important to You As Music?” Every vocalised sound on the record is programmed to trigger some series of effects, some being very disorienting; the sound design borders on phenomenal and enveloping at all times.
However, the record is very single-purpose, begging the question of repeat plays the moment you finish it for the first time. Maybe it’s something you’d want to return to in a while, like an episode of your favorite TV show that comes to mind occasionally that you leave on the watch queue for months and months. I don’t see myself returning much to this record at all, but it’s something I’d love to experience again, just to pull myself out of my being for thirty minutes. It’s certainly not a bad record for sure, but it just doesn’t have that Jelinek pop-magic sprinkled all over albums like Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records.
Some of the sounds here might come off as disgusting, a mixed bag of ways we can be repulsed by our own bodies and selves. But at the same time, it could be considered an exercise in learning to find enjoyment and/or contentment in something that could be seen as a collection of the intellectual and physical limitations of the human mind and body. Zwischen is a deeply human ambient album, but a strange, alienating one at that. I can only imagine this won’t be an easy album to swallow (yes, pun intended) for some folks, but one others will be fascinated by.
Zwischen is scheduled for release 4th May 2018, order a copy from Bandcamp.
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