Berlin musician Jan Jelinek has been making music under various guises for almost 20 years. Early on (meaning the late 90s and early 00s), Jelinek was primarily known for being one of the pioneers of glitch house, a genre in which the skips and scratches of damaged CDs and brief snippets of music are restitched into a twitchy, highly digitized form of house and techno music. Under monikers such as Farben, Gramm, and his own name, Jelinek distinguished himself by making dance music that was glitch-heavy but also warm and sumptuous. Textstar (Klang Elektronik), a collection of highlights from a series of 12-inches he released as Farben, is a landmark release in minimal-house music and early-00s electronic music generally. But the increased amount of attention Jelinek received from the dance-music crowd redirected him in the opposite direction, towards droning electronic and ambient music heavily reliant on improvisation.
In the late 2000s Jelinek quietly started his own label, Faitiche, and has been steadily releasing albums ever since. The most famous of these releases are probably “reissues” of music by Ursula Bogner, who according to Jelinek was a British woman who made homemade electronic music from the late 60s until the late 80s on synthesizers and reel-to-reels that sounds not too far off from Raymond Scott and early Moog experiments. What’s curious about this reissue is that many people don’t believe that Bogner ever existed, and that she is in fact Jelinek performing under yet another pseudonym (and Jelinek mentions in a 2008 feature in Resident Advisor that his next project would be a “fake reissue”).
Earlier this year, Jelinek released Farben Presents James DIN A4 on Faitiche, an album in which he remixes ten tracks by German audio- and visual-collage artist Dennis Busch. It’s the first full-length LP released by Jelinek under his Farben moniker since Textstar was released in 2002, and it’s also the best release by Jelinek in years. What’s most interesting about it is the way it resembles the lush textures of the early-00s Farben releases while also exhibiting some of the sounds and styles Jelinek has picked up over the years via his more analog excursions on his label. The music is fresh, odd, and endlessly listenable, a patchwork medley of wonky synth honks, unusual samples, trash-lid percussion, muffled dance beats, and cut-up snippets of music. It’s one of my favorite albums of the year, and highly recommended for anyone into left-field takes on contemporary dance music. Today’s 12 O’Clock Track is “Lucifer Rising,” one of the album’s highlights, featuring clanging percussion, rumbling bass burbles, and a gradually blossoming synth patch. Listen to it below, and buy Farben Presents James DIN A4 directly from Faitiche’s quirky and marvelous website.