A 16-track, 73-minute mixture of minimal broken beats, radio receptions & deep melodic lines long held a secret by its author, it is only now that this fairly unique item finally surfaces onto CD format. Closer in style to Tomas’ material under the name The Viceroy (previously released on the No Type web site), Bleak is yet another example of the composer’s seemingly innate ability to balance all of his sounds into an atmosphere that is at once quirky and comfy.
If the ’Jirku touch’ is instantly recognisable on this album, it will be obvious to the listener that Bleak is fairly different from the rest of the composer’s published work on labels such as Alien8, Force Inc, Klang Elektronik and Intr_version. A rawer production, simpler means, no needless processing, but above all, a singular melancholic velocity that is genuinely affecting and never too heavy for its own good. Bleakness is conveyed indeed, but in no way is the music itself bleak! Add to it a certain unity of purpose which brings it closer to a ’concept album’ than a simple collection of songs, and you’ve got yourself a very appealing oddity in Tomas Jirku’s already eclectic discography. This album is definitely NOT just for completists! Stop watching the news, put on Bleak from start to finish, and repeat as needed…
Tomas Jirku’s music was first heard in 1999, when he sent out two demos to (then strictly online label) No Type director David Turgeon, who immediately invited him to join the label. Through a limited CD-R edition of his first web album, Immaterial, his music reaches the ears of Alien8 co-director Gary Worsley, who signs him on the spot. Meanwhile, Tomas had started a very special project on No Type, called Variants: regularly, he uploaded, changed, deleted tracks. All in all, nearly sixty tracks were composed this way. The eponymous disc (on Alien8) features 12 of these tracks and obtained great popular and critical success.
Hot on the heels of Variants, Tomas Jirku was invited to the first edition of Montréal-based festival Mutek, where he opened for the well known German minimalist Thomas Brinkmann. This show was such a success, Tomas was immediately invited to release a CD on the prestigious German label Force Inc: Sequins. This CD was followed with a “reworked” reissue of Immaterial, on new Alien8 sublabel Substractif.
As he became increasingly in demand, Tomas performed in numerous live shows, in Canada and across the world. New music was released on various compilations (Clicks & Cuts 2, The Freest of Radicals, Elektonische Musik Interkontinentale 1 & 2) as well as on many 12” singles. He could also be heard remixing artists such as Process or Electric Company. Finally, he released the Entropy CD for Montréal-based label Intr_version.
The following year was dedicated to collaboration, with a GI Joe Killaz album (a silly gangsta hip-hop project featuring the famous cartoon characters), as well as a more serious project with his accomplice Robin Judge, which yielded the CD Plusism on the Onitor label.
In 2003, Tomas Jirku is finally back on No Type with the long awaited release of Bleak 1999.
We are very pleased to introduce Tomas Jirku, a fantastic newcomer to the IDM and minimal techno movements.
Jirku’s sound is an excellent and really fresh approach to the minimal techno genre. At times it seems highly influenced by the Cologne scene, with very slow throbbing minimal dub and plenty of electronic glitches, scratches, noises and echoes. It’s also reminiscent of material from the Chain Reaction label, only far more enjoyable for people who find that imprint’s style too housey much of the time. Jirku works solely with computers, giving him a very rich and modern sound, with a lot of punch.
We discovered Jirku via MP3 label, Notype (www.notype.com
), and were lucky enough to be passed one of only 20 copies of his CD-R release, Immaterial. The Immaterial MP3s were generating so much attention, that even Spin mentioned notice of Jirku and the Notype site.
After Immaterial, Jirku started experimenting with pieces he called “variants”. As he would complete new pieces, or rather, new variants, he would upload them to the Notype web site. Throughout this process, Jirku created 59 compositions at a furious pace and just as quickly deleted them, making it difficult for people to keep up with the project. Each “variant” within a “group” is a remake/restructuring/refinement of those that preceded it, while the first piece in each group is a new idea all together. Jirku undertook the project to expose his creative process.
We approached Tomas about the idea of releasing some of his work and he came up with the idea of reworking his favourite results from the Variants research.
At times Variants is reminiscent of Pole, with dense production and dub-like beats, but the end result is not nearly as dubby as that overly hyped German act. Imagine if Mego artists started doing minimal techno and then you’re beginning to get the idea. Jirku’s work is all the more enjoyable for his restraint: he doesn’t over-work his tracks, or feel the need to keep adding extra sounds to them. Rather, he manages to construct really solid bouncy bass backgrounds, that are very rich in sound. The minimal nature of the recordings are what really makes Variants interesting on a more experimental electronics level, with beats that are really catchy and current.
Variants is recommended for fans of SND, David Kristian, Pole, Porter Ricks, Senking, and Vladislav Delay.
The Variants launch marked Tomas Jirku’s Montréal debut, when he performed live withThomas Brinkmann and Triple R at the very hip Mutek festival which took place in Montréal June 7 through the 11.
As electronic music is a virtually faceless beast, it is noteworthy when a regional breakout of excessive talent occurs, as such is the case with the current influx of Canadian artists who are taking the global scene by storm. The likes of Akufen, Tim Hecker, Deadbeat. and Tomas Jirku have been using Montreal’s Mutek festival as a springboard, employing a hometown advantage to work their sonic goods to the max; ensuring that at night’s end they are taken home by the most seductive of tourists. Case in point, after opening for Thomas Brinkmann at the first edition of Mutek, Jirku was signed to Germany’s Force Inc. label to produce his Sequins disc.
Rather than sticking with an instantly recognizable regional sound and identity, each of these artists has developed their own unique voice and direction stretching out the confines of electronic music. Jirku’s 12" collaborations with Robin Judge, which were eventually compiled by Onitor as Plusism, set a precedent for the combination of abstract beats and convulsive motion. Together they produced the sounds you expected to become commonplace in your childhood Bradbury/Heinlein visions of the near future. His own work offers an entirely different perspective, leaning towards minimal techno, incorporating rhythmic glitch, ambient and even taking a potshot at cartoonish gangsta rap (as the GI Joe Killaz).
Bleak 1999 is the fifth solo release from Jirku and a return to his Canadian label of origin, No Type. The disc revolves around a medical theme, with medications (though nothing so obvious as narcotic acronyms), vital sign readings, even what appears to be a couple of chest x-rays in place of the traditional song title. This is a fair representation of its sound as Jirku’s brand of minimalism in techno has much more in common with the sounds of hospital machinery than the dancefloor.
Every track of Bleak 1999 segues together masterfully to produce a work of clinical starkness, perfectly suited for nightshift workers everywhere. The smooth static field of "Glucose" duplicates the hum of life support; until a distant viral code shuffles to the fore, breaking the stasis of the hum like a live wire loose in the gears. All ensuing ambience dissipates as the code is assaulted by the antibiotic "Cefuroxime", cranking up the distortion with a pronounced dub-drenched beat, a la M4-M7 aka Maurizio. The onset of "Haloperidol" introduces a gentle off balanced scraping; not unlike a warped and dirty 78 rpm running quarter speed; smoothly building momentum till trifled upbeat Detroit synth touches break the bleak atmospherics. A respirator’s cyclic oxygen output invades the throbbing delay of "Input Fluid", furthering the incessant brooding aura, drawing strength from the sense of loss that permeates hospital corridors.
Throughout Bleak 1999, Jirku uses a mix of analog inventiveness and concrete ambience to produce electronic music that squeezes out of its canned genre, demanding to be studied intently for clues to the unsolved riddles of machinery.
By Everett Jang Perdue