Switched On – farben: textstar+ (Faitiche)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This release brings together a series of four EPs released between 1999 and 2002 by the celebrated electronic musician Jan Jelinek, using the pseudonym farben.

The selection has been mastered from the original tapes, with two additional pieces also included. Jelinek also includes Polaroids of his home studio in Berlin at the time of recording.

“Every sound is a text” is the theme behind Jelinek’s thinking – “a bearer of meaning in search of a reader. Hoping the ideas inscribed in its autonomous existence will be understood as intended. While its beauty lies precisely in misunderstanding, in reading the coded message a new way every time. A thousand colours of sound, a thousand different ways to hear, to see, to understand.”

His description is a helpful accompaniment to the music as it takes hold.

What’s the music like?

Darkly cinematic. The way Jelinek works minimal material into something very descriptive is captivating throughout, and on headphones he effortlessly draws the listener in. With seemingly simple bleeps and clicks he can create atmospheres, while the subtle rhythms create surprisingly funky backdrops. These basic elements all help to form impressively constructed longer tracks, adding wider perspectives to draw out the listener’s aural view.

On the first track, Live At The Sahara Tahoe, 1973, the bleeps and clicks are complemented by shady pad sounds, while on FF things break out into a really strong, low-end funk. Beautone is an introverted, studio-bound track – and yet its chordal sequences hint at something much more active and the low-end squiggly bass is a treat. farben Says Love To Love You Baby has snatches of melody, rather like walking past a jazz club and hearing fragments of music.

The musical language is friendly and often with snippets of humour, easily glimpsed on the warm-hearted farben Says As Long As There’s Love Around, beats ricocheting around the stereo picture. farben Says So Much Love nails a more conventional but excellent deep house groove along the lines of Matthew Herbert, while the turntable scratches lend Raute extra warmth. Finally farben says Love Oh Love offers a watery backdrop, like its album companions setting a deep, nocturnal scene.

Does it all work?

It does, providing the listening environment is the right one – clubs or home stereos will bring out all the subtleties of Jelinek’s basslines and his intricately processed percussion.

Is it recommended?

Enthusiastically. You could even call it textual healing!



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