An overlooked clicks and cuts gem from Jan Jelinek.
When Jan Jelinek reissued Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records in 2017, it was met with justified acclaim. Reducing slithers of jazz to a ghostly, barely-there murmur, Jelinek extracted a warmth from minimal techno-adjacent methods that few have managed to capture since. Thanks to the purity of Jelinek's concept and the brilliance of its execution, the LP, first released 18 years ago, is as hyped as home-listening electronica is likely to get. (Personal Rock) is not quite as widely shouted about. But for diggers thirsting for more of Jelinek's sublime work, the album, recorded under Jelinek's Gramm alias, has long been an out-of-print (and prohibitively expensive) holy grail.
(Personal Rock) was originally released in 1999 on Move D and Jonas Grossmann's Source Records, a label that often gets overlooked despite its remarkable contributions to deep, leftfield techno in the '90s. Jelinek had only released a few records under another alias, Farben, at that point, and was a couple years off exhaling the drowsy fumes of Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records into the atmosphere under his own name. At the time, Jelinek was dismissive of any great distinction between Farben and Gramm. As he once toldIgloo Magazine, "I produced both at the same time and in the same way," and credited any stylistic differences to record label preferences. With 20 years' hindsight, it's possible to map the creative arc from Farben to Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records, with (Personal Rock) as the glue in between. (Personal Rock) is more languid and dreamlike than the former, but more pronounced in its use of percussion than the latter.
Jelinek has been preoccupied with sampling throughout his career. It seems like jazz source material was as integral to (Personal Rock) as it was on Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records. If Jelinek had a trademark style from this angle, it would be the gauzy chords processed beyond recognition. As on Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records, these chords set a cosy, delicate tone. At times the samples are more explicit. A double bass phrase comes through clearly towards the end of "Type Eins," sounding oddly conspicuous in the wider context of Jelinek's work (but certainly not unwelcome). These ingredients lend the record a human touch, one of the key factors in what makes the music so compelling.
Like many of Jelinek's releases, (Personal Rock) drifts by with a processionary calm, but on some tracks some purposeful switch-ups arise late on. On a system with enough bass presence, the sustained low-end drone at the end of "Non-Relations" has a powerful, ominous effect. The string-laced final passage of "Type Zwei" has an elegant, haunting quality, the expressive potential of his spartan musical components let loose.
These understated touches draw you in. The key shifts on the noirish strings on "Legends / Nugroove™" are seductive. A snare's crack on "Ment" juts out at an obtuse angle, creating a curious funk against the gossamer backdrop and micro-dub ripples. (Personal Rock), like so much of the best clicks and cuts music of the era, rewards deep scrutiny, but it's equally satisfying as a background murmur. It's a remarkable distillation of personable minimalism and synthetic soul.
Tracklist01. Legends / Nugroove™
02. St. Moritz
03. Type Zwei
07. Type Eins