Tender Buttons: Jan Jelinek’s Sensual Data

Hmm… there’s something sexy going on around here. Jan Jelinek’s mysterious and subtle collection of clicks, pops and hums is sexy in the way that libraries are sexy. This is a designated quiet zone in which the normally drowned-out sounds – pages turning, chairs creaking, and shoes padding across carpet tiles – are amplified into something mysterious. One might say that this music is repetitive, and you’d be somewhat correct (“repetitive” and “boring” are not synonymous after all). In the case of ‘Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records’, however, it’s a curiously natural, even unstable kind of repetition. We know what a crackling fire sounds like – does every fire crackle in the same rhythm? Would anyone say that listening to the sound of a fire is repetitious and could they memorise its pattern?

On the surface, the music is austere, maybe even clinical. The cover looks like that of an antiquated hardback physics textbook, but like such a book, Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records provides logical thrills that become emotional ones. My dad used to tell me that maths was beautiful. Being bad at maths, I disagreed. How could such cold and dry information invite sentiment of any description? I only started getting close to what he meant when I explored this record. On my first listen, it sounded like “almost nothing”. It was atmospheric, which is why I decided to return to it a few more times – possibly because I missed those stolen glances at my attractive fellow students at the university library – but how smoothly “almost nothing” transitioned into “something special”. I’m in no doubt that Jan Jelinek slaved over this record, but the result of that hard work is a record that resembles a natural process, as if it exists by accident. All data, machinery and equations happened to be in the right order, and the results are miraculous simply because the system makes sense.

More than anything, however, ‘Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records’ is an intimate record. You could turn it all the way up to 11 and it would still sound quiet, and you can only appreciate it if you choose to be silent and still. It’s the sigh of a well-maintained air conditioner, a sparse eddy of dust in a pool of sunlight, an indecipherable whisper between bookshelves, the squeak of saliva as you run your tongue across the roof of your mouth.

2 Comments

  1. Love this, and lovely to have it. Will explore. Damn, you can write.

    Btw just posted this (below) on the socials, where I know you are no longer. Didn’t know how else to credit you!

    XM.

    Like

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