Philip Jeck | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Turntablists from Jam Master Jay to the X-ecutioners have indulged in flashy displays of scratching, but despite its name, the technique doesn't necessarily despoil a DJ's record collection. Philip Jeck, on the other hand, prefers his vinyl thoroughly despoiled. The 51-year-old Liverpudlian treats the hiss and crackle of his exceptionally distressed records with the same respect he does the music in their grooves; looped snatches of barely discernible tunes ascend through thick layers of surface noise like bubbles of swamp gas rising out of a murky primordial ooze. Jeck also eschews the wheels of steel preferred by his DJ brethren--instead of the usual pair of Technics SL-1200s, he uses obsolete castoffs from flea markets. His work seems to lament the passing of the medium it celebrates: in 1999 he composed a series called "Vinyl Coda," and in '93 he and Lol Sargent collaborated on the installation Vinyl Requiem, which included 180 vintage Dansette record players. But Jeck's efforts are also an act of defiance against extinction--spinning a loved-to-death platter on a discarded machine in effect brings them both back to life. The pace of his music ranges from leisurely to downright arthritic; on "Pax," the emotional centerpiece of his 2002 Touch release, Stoke (ironically, Jeck's work has only been pressed on CD), a gospel singer slowed to 16 rpm lows pleadingly through a sheer curtain of organ chords. On paper this might seem grotesque, but it sounds sublime. This show, sponsored by local nonprofit Lampo, is Jeck's U.S. solo debut. $10. Saturday, June 12, 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago; 773-227-3617 or 312-666-0795.

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