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I first heard the music of jenghizhan (aka John Parker) at the Brooklyn space vertexList, and described it enthusiastically here as "mysterious, sexily-filtered ambient industrial keyboards." He has since posted those performances on this page of his website, as "live improvisation with the Elektron Monomachine." Track 4 is one of my favorites, and I did a "remix," consisting solely of lopping off the intro and cutting straight to the monster, four-note hook that first grabbed my attention: [4.7 MB .mp3].

Later I heard him perform with Man from Planet Risk, his duo with Cave Precise (Ron Ramey), both in a live club setting and on CD. In a post on the band I commented on the differences between their live and studio sounds:
For all its echo-y horror soundtrack atmospherics and Black Sab-like bass riffs, the CD is much lighter [than the live playing]: the beats are spryer, with turntable twists & jazzy piano riffs livening up the doom and gloom. "Triphop" comes to mind because the sound is truly trippy: jenghizkhan approaches music like a painter (and is in fact a visual artist, exhibiting under his non-nom de plume), taking advantage of all the filtering and timestretching capabilities of modern keyboard tech to make layers of artfully mangled sound. Imagine Ennio Morricone eclectism shot through with the kind of dreamy, smeared psychedelia of San Francisco post-punkers Chrome, or the European hardcore tech of The Mover set to a hiphop beat.
Since then, I've listened to jenghizhan's solo CDs Hooden Knooks and Brooklyn Sucks. It's great stuff, what the late lamented Throb records would file under "braindance" and what I would call "art electro." By way of comparison, I went back and listened to the Ischemic Folks compilation, which many considered a watershed for this kind of intensely digital electronic music, and found I like jenghizkhan better. Except for a couple of lush Richard Devine compositions, the IF CD is brittle and analytical, with too much of the Miami Bass parent DNA decanted out in the name of art.

Mixed in with jenghizkhan's trademark doomcore riffs one hears a lot of humor, and a strong melodic sense even when he's furthest out there in the drill-and-bass, sound-bending zone. As audio abstraction it's more frenetic de Kooning than faux-febrile Richter, and for all jk's insistence on "modern digital synthesis" over retro styles and sampling (more on this soon), his compositions have the verve and warm texture of early analog and tape recorder music (e.g., Mario Davidovsky, Otto Luening, Richard Maxfield), as opposed to the rather cool "glitch" sound of Oval, Phoenicia, et al. Check out these tracks from the CDs: "Sidewinder Circus" [1.4 MB (excerpt) .mp3], where the digitally scrambled phrase "sidewinder heat-seeking missile" sniggles in and out of overdriven-soundcard-like raunch, and "Outlet Nightjar" [ 3.56 MB .mp3], in which a synthetic bowed string keeps sounding the same ridiculous note in counterpoint to a heavily reverbed pseudo-guitar.

[coming soon: Part Two--how Man from Planet Risk differs from jenghizkhan solo work, and a discussion of gear]

- tom moody 9-27-2004 3:44 pm [link] [add a comment]